A missionary is a person who enters another country or culture to spread the tenets of his or her religion and to assist others with their physical and spiritual needs. Missionaries are most commonly associated with Evangelical Christian culture.
Traditionally, missionaries traveled to foreign countries to live and work among the people and spread the message of their religion. However, modern churches also focus on domestic missions, such as missions to the inner city to evangelize and serve the homeless or the underprivileged.
Missionaries seek to impart the teachings of their church to people who may not have been exposed to the message. They seek to help these people make better moral decisions or find spiritual peace. Missionaries also endeavor to do good in the community. Missionaries in a foreign country, for example, may bring badly needed medical supplies and care, build schools and hospitals, or fund digs fpr wells to supply fresh drinking water.
Some mission trips last a few days or weeks. But, long-term missionaries may live in the culture for months or even years, cultivating relationships and learning the local culture, in an attempt to better understand and respond to the needs of that community. They generally try to become fluent in the language and may even facilitate a translation of their church’s scriptures into the local language, if a translation is not already available. Missionaries often live in sub-par living conditions, similar to the people they are trying to help, in order to gain the people’s trust and better sympathize with their situation.