Dear Career Doctor:
I’m still in high school, but really need to make the decision of what to go to college for. I know that after college I want to be a foreign missionary so that I can help people and share Jesus with them, and because I would find it interesting spending years in other countries. My problem is I don’t know what I can do for them. What they need most are doctors and teachers, but I can’t teach or handle blood. So I really need help deciding what I can study in college that would be helpful in the mission field.
If you feel that you are too shy to teach, or too afraid of blood to go into the medical field, these are issues that may be overcome with therapy or practice. But if you are simply not interested in medicine or teaching, there are many other ways of helping through studies as diverse as ecology, agriculture, marketing, finance, or architecture.
Missionaries often work in areas where people are desperately poor. Many live in areas without clean water or sanitation, so bringing simple technology to alleviate these conditions is literally life-saving. Similarly, there are agencies that not only provide farm animals but also show how to increase crop production and create bio-fuel from animal waste. Other aid workers help people produce craft products, but there is often a lack of ability to sell these products, so it is crucial to set up Internet marketing or connections with stores like Ten Thousand Villages.
Some of the most dramatic changes in people’s lives come by helping mothers get micro-loans to start businesses and earn the money to better feed and educate their children. But if people don’t have decent housing or schools, it is hard for children to learn, so architects who specialize in low cost building techniques can vastly improve the lives of the poor.
There is the saying, “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” but your job is to discover how you want to help people help themselves. And as you can see, there are many ways to do this other than teaching or medicine.