The AGWM Application Journey

Serbian Orthodox chandelier

Because I have no pictures to represent a missions application, here is a completely random picture of a chandelier in a Serbian Orthodox church in Croatia.

Applying for AG World Missions is quite a process. They take great care to make sure you’re called, able, prepared, and willing to abide by the rules and procedures of one of the world’s biggest and yet most family-like missions-sending agencies. You’re not only representing yourself and your church as a missionary but you’re also representing a fellowship that spans the globe. They invest heavily in you as a missionary. You’re not just going out as an individual facing the world. You have a whole vast group of people behind you supporting you, from the leaders of the World Missions Board to the person designing the program that sends you emails when you get new supporters.

To prepare before ever applying, I studied for two theology degrees, applied for a ministerial license, and worked to pay down my loans as fast as possible. Once all those things had come together, it was time to do what I’d been looking forward to doing since college and requested an application for full-time missions from AGWM.

An outtake from the photoshoot

An outtake from the photoshoot.

Just to do that, I had to go through my district (Montana) and ask them to recommend to AGWM that I be sent an application. This means that as a missionary, I have my district behind me. They knew of me from my licensing application process.

The application was massive. I received it by email in July 2012, and it took me until January 2013 to complete it. I had to have eleven references from such people as district presbyters, college professors, and assorted friends. I had to have a physical. I had to poll all my family members for any obscure diseases in our history. I had to write a ten-page paper on my call, my family history, my strengths and weaknesses, and so forth. I had to have a professional photograph taken. I had to hunt down my immunizations and take a psych/personality test. I had to permit a background check and a credit report. I had to evaluate my language proficiency. No simple thing, this application.

Once I turned it in, by email and by mail to two or three different AGWM addresses, I waited until February to get news that it had been received. In April, I took a second psych/personality test. In June or July I received the news that my application had made it past the first round of approvals. There are multiple levels that you have to pass through: an initial examination of your application, an interview with someone from Personnel and Member Care, a second examination of your application if the interviewer recommended you to continue in the process, an invitation to Candidate Orientation in the fall of that year, a round of interviews at Orientation, verbal approval by the World Missions Executive Committee and Board, and finally official approval in writing.

It’s scary but a bit neat going through the levels. Every time I received a notice that I was approved and passing on to the next level, it was a mini celebration. I had my Member Care interview with Butch Frey in July 2013. It took about an hour and a half, and I cried through the whole thing. Despite the fact that I am quite an even-keeled sort of person, I do tend to cry rather a lot at certain things, such as talking about my call to missions and watching the end of the “The Dark Knight” Batman movie. Butch started me out talking about my call to missions, I lost it, and never regained it during the entire interview. It didn’t seem to faze him. He asked about everything. My strengths, my weaknesses, my family, my personality test results, my dreams for the future, my views on authority and marriage and local church leadership… I felt utterly wrung out by the time we were done. But he told me he was going to recommend my application to proceed in the approval process.

In the end of August, I received an official invitation to Candidate Orientation in Springfield, Missouri, in October. And there was much rejoicing. I’d been told before that if you’re invited to Orientation, there’s only a very, very low chance that you won’t be finally approved.

I’m going to have to write a completely new blog post about Candidate Orientation, because it was so terribly splendid and long that it deserves its own blog post. Suffice it to say that after 8 days of meetings, classes, and interviews, I received a letter on October 17, 2013 welcoming me to Assemblies of God World Missions.

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