The staff and volunteer Special Assistants to the Short-Term Mission desk prepare individuals and teams to be the best ambassadors they can be in global Kingdom building. They are prepared using the manual written by Rev. Dr. Ann Borquist, Going With God and a most recent manual co-written by Rev. Borquist and myself, entitled Short-Term Mission Team Essentials – Together On The Journey https://www.amazon.com/Short-Term-Mission-Team-Essentials-Together/dp/1098334833/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1O5A6MW827IY7&keywords=short-term+mission+team+essentials&qid=1671632597&sprefix=short-term+mission+team+essentials%2Caps%2C76&sr=8-1
Since June 2020, we have had to shift and make the orientation sessions happen using zoom or video chats. Prior to 2020, my predecessors and I conducted over 100+ sessions annually, trying to prepare over 900+ individuals eager to serve alongside global servants on short-term mission where they had been asked to come. These orientation sessions would be held at airports, through conference calls, Skype or in-person wherever meeting places could be arranged.
We are now entering a new phase in our preparation of teams. I/We are re-learning to be physically present in the same space. Experiencing in-person orientation sessions is like wearing a new outfit or a new pair of shoes, which has not been worn in a long time. Before 2022, we faced many choices of platforms to use to do the necessary orientation sessions to keep all short-term mission opportunities and volunteers God-centered. Now it truly is like being surrounded by all sorts of shoes, and we decide the ones that will best fit the context, the audience, the servants. The sessions are much more contextualized and individualized. They are a gift.
I was recently invited by Rev. John Marshall, Senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Plainfield (IN), to facilitate orientation sessions with his team of five adults. The team and I spent over twelve hours being immersed in God’s word and what it meant to be emotionally, spiritually and physically prepared to be God’s ambassadors cross-culturally. We delved into the meaning of “Being a Stranger” using an article written by one of our partners, Dr. Olu Menjay.
The team was invited to journal and to reflect on ways God had and was about to stretch them. The team did a simulation exercise where they had to work together (or so they thought) in solving a puzzle. They lived the intimacy of Jesus’ table when we shared a meal at a local Thai restaurant, and discovered new spices and dishes to explore. They lived a core principle of the Team Essentials, to enter a new space with “Observing, Asking questions & Listening (OAL).”
The Holy Spirit weaved in the power of truth telling with gentleness and love while challenging what it means to journey together as siblings in Christ. Witnessing God’s hand before my eyes, as each member shared from their hearts, were challenged by some hard questions, cheered as they recognized gifts and talents in one another, and affirmed whose they were and the purpose of the “Yes” was SOUL nurturing to my heart. Living transformation with five of God’s beloved servants was transforming and affirming to me. I realized how much I had missed facilitating orientation sessions in-person.
We also realized that as a facilitator who did not look like them, God had sent me to start cross-cultural conversations in a new way. The depth of dialogues needed to happen before they arrived in their country of service. Each team member opened their hearts to being proximate with one another in and with love. I was humbled to witness what it meant for each one of them to be God’s beloved and chosen for this season in their faith journey. I was privileged to see verse 16 in chapter 8 in the Gospel of Luke “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light,” be lived before my eyes. What a gift!
God’s light continued to shine on Sunday morning during worship services, when we all shared communion at Jesus’ table, and when the team was commissioned and sent by the Body of Christ, to be light, mercy, peace and love.
What a humble privilege it was for me to receive and be blessed by God’s anointing that early weekend in December, in Plainfield (IN)!
“God’s tender mercy rose, touched and healed many hearts into the paths to peace.”
These blessed servants in Indiana have embraced Romans 12:10, a scripture we ask teams and individual volunteers to memorize: “to be devoted to one another in love. To honor one another above yourselves.”
I am deeply grateful to have experienced a godly moment in Plainfield in 2022. I ask that you join me in prayers, as we cover the team, the hosts and all the logistics in prayers.