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Marilyn Barbosa*

Missionary Associate to Europe

WIM: What is your position and general job description? How long have you served in this position?

Barbosa: I'm a missionary associate (MA), and my job is to assist the missionaries in the church where I serve in whatever capacity is needed. I have been an MA for 5 months.

WIM: What steps/preparation led you to this position?

Barbosa: I've had a heart for missions most of my life. I have been on several short-term mission trips over the last 15 years. I felt God leading me to a more full-time position. After much prayer, I contacted missionaries I knew and asked if they needed my help, and they said yes. I then got my application from Assemblies of God World Missions, completed it, and waited for approval.

WIM: Is this role a vocation, a "calling" for you? If so, how did you live that out?

Barbosa: It is a calling that I would also love to be my vocation. At this point I'm not sure, but I'm waiting on God. Living out the calling has involved going on short-term mission trips, and supporting missionaries financially and with prayer. I have also been a missionary in my own town, not waiting till I was on a foreign field somewhere, and I have been involved in missions in my local church over the years.

WIM: What are the joys of this role?

Barbosa: Wow! So many joys! Building relationships with people from all over the world. Seeing lives changed by the power of God as they enter into the Kingdom. Administrating in some areas and knowing that I am helping to build a stronger, better equipped body of Christ. Seeing women empowered with knowing who they are in Christ. Watching people grow in the knowledge of the Lord as they learn more of Him. Ministering with amazing people on the church staff who have the same vision. And freedom to be "me" in ministry and not fit into some mold of what an MA is supposed to be or do.

WIM: What are the challenges of this role?

Barbosa: Limited authority to carry out what I see to be needed changes. Operating alongside a mindset that limits the spiritual growth and maturity of the body because of the perceived idea that each people group might be offended. I would prefer creating a culture of the collective body where we respect each other, but don't limit God due to fear of offending.

WIM: What would you tell another woman aspiring to work in this field in terms of preparation, needed skill set, etc.?

Barbosa: She needs to be sure of her call or very confident in her vocation before she even gets started. Spend a lot of time in prayer and seek wise counsel as to the direction the Lord is leading you. Do others see this same gift and call in you? Know the culture or cultures where you will be serving as much as possible. Learn at least some of the language before going. Know at least one missionary who has gone through the process and can help you navigate. I found the whole process unnecessarily difficult since I did not have easy access to people who could steer me in the right direction. I may have given up. Some might think that this a weeding out of sorts, but what I found was that there were things I needed to know that I didn't know I needed to know! Don't give up. Find a mentor or mentors in your field who can guide you along.

Always remember that God chooses you for you. He sees a place that you need to fill with your personality, skills, gifts, talents, maturity, etc. Pursue the call!