Monday, October 29, 2012

Going on Short-Term Mission? 10 things you must know before you leave...

I recently presented a workshop at The Forum, an annual gathering of the Fellowship of Short Term Mission Leaders.

As an on field host receiver, I was asked to talk about short-term mission from my side of border, or as one who receives teams.  Here was my somewhat lengthy title...

10 Things Every Host Receiver Wants You To Know Before Bringing Your Team.

So here they are... think of this as Dave's Top 10 for Short Term Mission Teams...

1. The pace here is different.  There are not many places in the world where the pace of life is as it is in the United States.  Stuff just doesn’t get done here on the same time schedule as it does back home.  And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Make it about relationship, not project.  Come to be, not do... And generally, you’ll get to do.

3. Adopt the "When in Rome" attitude.  Be a local... eat, dress, & act like a local... Learn the culture...Be an American when you return home.

4. Don’t overwhelm us with people.  We need and want smaller teams for longer periods of time.  

5. It’s not wrong, just different.... Corollaries... You’re not in Kansas anymore and You are not all that!  Just because we do it differently on the field does not make it wrong.  Also, things are different here, because sometimes they have to be.  Finally, and this is hard for a lot of folks from the US, but many people from other countries are not quite as enamored with the US as we think they should be.  

6. We drive the bus... or what is important to you, may not be what’s important to us.  You read that right.  The field missionaries are the folks in the front seat.  We are on the front lines so trust us.  Need more on this?  Check out the US Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

7. Don’t be critical with us.  Offer us ideas and support, but remember, life on the field can leave us feeling pretty fragile, and vulnerable.  We know where we are failing and coming up short.  Just like kids, we sometimes need people to come alongside and love on us unconditionally.  Be a blessing!

8. Think creatively when you give.  If your host receiver has kids, offer to baby sit so they can have a night out, or a day without the kids.  Schedule your vacation in a way you can take us with you.  Our finances seldom allow us a break from ministry and many nationals are reluctant to use what little financial resources there are for this.  Get a time share from one of your church members and bless your missionary host once in a while.  You might also bring a few I-Tunes gift cards so we can get some new music the right way while we are serving overseas.

9. We will still be here when you get home.  When you get that plane for the ride home, remember, we will still be here!  Our ministry does not just happen when you are here, it is ongoing 24/7!

10. The major work has already been done!  That's right.  The book has already been written about our great missionary focus and we know how it ends.  God Wins!  Praise Jesus...

After I presented this list, I asked a few of the other receivers in the room if I had missed anything.  They said I pretty much got them all... at least the ones we could share publicly.

That list is probably another post...


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Shaw Kenawe said...

Hi Dave,

Thought you'd enjoy reading THIS.