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For a younger person who engages in short-term mission they bring enthusiasm and energy and, hopefully some practical skills. As a long-term missionary I valued the visit of a young artist who could develop appropriate visual aids for our team to use. Years earlier I spent some time doing painting and decorating in a mission hospital in north Africa between school and university. This experience also impressed on me the needs and opportunities there are for mission in this world. So some people may find that short-term mission is a way of testing their call before committing to years of training for long-term service. Not all short-termers are young however. There are opportunities for retired people, men and women, to help on the mission field. This could be in the the form of book-keeping, auditing, teaching missionary children etc. My Bible College Principal retired in his 60s and promptly joined a missionary society and served until his death overseas. The prayers, fellowship and encouragement of an older saint means a lot to a younger worker perhaps struggling with difficulties, isolated for long periods from home or the company of others in his missionary group. They may want to talk about things they feel unwilling to express to colleagues, for fear of misunderstandings - e.g. sexual, national issues (inter-national teams can have their frictions), or personality differences. The downside of short-term service is that they are dependent on the established missionary to show them around, communicate with locals etc if they come to a country where they do not speak the language. They may find the cultural restrictions puzzling and be tempted to do things the way they are done in the homeland - not realising that they could upset matters for others later. On the whole short-term missions are a good thing, so long as there are not too many in a group, and that they come at the right time of year. For example student holidays in America and Europe may mean that the only time a helper can come out is during the hottest and most disease-ridden time of year in parts of Asia. (Those from the southern hemisphere fared better by coming in our 'winter' months). Make sure the prospective visitor is physically fit before travelling. It is always best to be screened and supported by the 'home office' well before-hand. Short-term helpers must come with a humble spirit, be willing to learn and to fit in with local customs and accept senior missionary advice. A hardy constitution will help. Perhaps the most valuable asset is to bring your testimony of what the Lord has done/ is doing for you. People all over the world want to hear this, and God gets the glory. That way, whatever one's experience on the mission field, the gospel is advanced and the worker grows in maturity. And supporters get a blessing when they hear of what was done in Jesus' name. Hopefully a short-termer will one day become a career missionary, as the Lord directs him or her.
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