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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Visa problems

I often hear of missionaries getting down to the time that they need to leave and having visa problems. I would like to share a few ideas with you about how to handle your visa. First off you should never get to the end of your deputation and have to wait on a visa. You know where you are going. You are a leader. You should be planning ahead. If they tell you it takes two years to get a visa then start when you are two years away from getting all of your support. There really is no excuse for not having your visa when the time comes to go. Look for creative ways to get into the country. Often you can not get a visa as a missionary but you can go in as a tourist. Go in as a tourist and then cross the border to pick up your visa. It may not be the most convenient thing to do but at least you are not wasting the church’s money waiting on your visa to come in. Get in touch with the right missionary to know what to do. A friend in Argentina has served his entire first term and still does not have all the paper work done for his visa. I knew people in Peru that lived their for 10 years on a 3 month tourist visa and just kept leaving the country. Don’t use the visa excuse to stay in the US because you are getting apprehensive about getting to the field of your calling. Do whatever the law says that you have to do. It is amazing that many times a missionary has to leave a country for visa problems but he is the only one. It is hard to deal with when you are the one that didn’t leave and a church asks you about the other guy. You want to be nice but I was in a church in north Georgia many years ago. A missionary had left Peru due to terrorism and had made it sound like all the missionaries had been kicked out. The people asked me if I was leaving. I knew that he was about the only independent missionary that had left the field for the reasons he gave. How embarrassing. What do you say to the pastor. You get the idea. Get help on your visa when you start out. That is the only way to do it.

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