Volunteering Abroad


The definition of  a 'volunteer' working overseas in development or mission can be very muddy; A'volunteer' could be someone who;

  • works for an organisation without a salary or payment of any kind and the volunteer finances recruitment, preparation, travel, insurance, support, accommodation and food  all from their own pocket. Mission placements are often like this. Of course, a local church or relatives may help the volunteer with these costs.

  • is recruited by a UK volunteer sending agency where some of these costs are met by the supporters of the agency or by grants to the agency.  There may be an expectation of a financial contribution but this may be  no more than a token contribution to some of the costs of any placement.Some volunteer sending NGOs are like this.

  • works for an UK agency or international placement provider and is provided with a sufficient allowance or local salary to meet all local costs and even maybe an air ticket for international travel to the placement. The 'volunteer' would still consider themselves a volunteer if the volunteer felt that they were 'sacrficing' a good salary back in the UK in order to help the placement with the skills or experience that the volunteer offers.VSO, for example, is like this.


Christians Abroad is a faith based organisation. As such, Christians Abroad volunteers tend to be Christian, however anyone sympathetic to Christianity can apply.  Please note that we do require all volunteers to be willing to work supportively in a placement overseas which is managed by a Christian trust or a local Christian church or agency. There are placements where being a Christian helps or is necessary. 

Every month, two or three opportunities will be promoted on the front page of the website. You can see all available opportunities by clicking on 'View All Opportunities'. You can suggest a placement that we do not list but we would need to go through a fairly detailed process which might include an early visit from us to the provider before we could support the project ourselves.


Some travellers and mission partners like to tread the middle ground. Associate Volunteers are those experienced travellers who approach Christians Abroad to make arrangements for them to work in a project that we have identified but do not want to have the preparation, support and debriefing package.  We accept such experienced travellers as associates and help them make the arrangements that they need to make through us.

Technically, anyone who uses our support services but is not placed by us overseas, is considered an 'Associate Volunteer' of Christians Abroad and this includes travellers who only use our insurance services.


Apart from its secular use, the words 'mission', 'mission partner' and 'missionary' have had a chequered and sometimes rocky history. Missionary activity historically was closely associated, in Britain, with British colonial history. Colonial attitudes of superiority, privilege and power closely followed the word 'missionary' into post colonial times. 'Mission Partner' is often more acceptable because it implies equality with the community you ar working with and acknowledges a shared learning experience.

Our terminology is 'Mission Associate' for a person responding to a sense of vocation as part of a life long commitment. Christians Abroad can associate with you to help you learn from our collective experience, avoid pitfalls and prepare for challenges that you might expect, some that you do not expect and some that none of us can predict.


Christians Abroad has no wish to compete with any other 'mission' agency.  We would encourage anyone in membership of a particular church to research and apply for support in their vocation through recognised 'mission' agencies associated with their church or any other church that might be sympathetic. It is likely that such an association would be able to offer much better resourced support for a vocation than Christians Abroad could offer.

There are individuals, however, that for one reason or another, do not fit into the 'mission agency' structures of their member churches and have not found the appropriate support that they need for the sense of vocation that they experience.  In some such circumstances, where there is still a clear sense of vocation and participation in God's mission, Christians Abroad may be able to offer a degree of flexibility which will provide the minimum of support for a vocation overseas in terms of accountability, administrative and pastoral support. You can see a description of the Associate Mission Partner programme under Special Projects on the main menu of the website. If you find yourself in this position, then please contact support@cabroad.org.uk.