Monday, May 02, 2011

Missions Prep with Bay Area Comm Church

Short term mission teams are notoriously unprepared. This, however, is starting to change, especially among church based teams. I had the privilege to join Bay Area Community Church for their short term missions team 'one day prep retreat' over the weekend. Really fun time, here's some content and observations.

+ Sessions included the Biblical Basis for Missions, How Short Term Teams Fit in with the Task Remaining, How to Travel as a Gracious Guest, Staying Healthy on the Field, and Bay Area Logistics.
+ The first two sessions were led by two of the local ACMC guys, Dave and Joe.
+ My session was How to Make the Most of your Missions Trip, which included tips on before, during and after. See the notes here.
+ About 60 people, all ages. 1 team of college/high school students going to El Salvador this summer. The host there was a Bay Area member who moved there long term after going there on a short term team. Other teams included Poland, India and Mexico. Another team going to Ghana, but they weren't there today.
+ Bay Area has medical evacuation covered in their missions insurance policy.
+ They had a great resource table for missions books and every person got a copy of The Short Term Missions Workbook [you know how much I love that one right?]
+ Casely Essamuah is the missions pastor there. He was at Park Street Church in Boston for a number of years, before coming here. He's originally from Ghana and his wife is Ugandan and works as a medical doctor for the state government. He is the archtype of the Western American church missions pastor of the future [another post]. Here are some gems throughout the day from him:
- On time versus human interaction focused cultures: "Take off your watch the whole time you are in Africa, except for the last day, because on that day, we have to get to the airport on time."
- Home Depot is a cultural icon in America. It represents a can-do spirit.
- Do you know the independence date of the countries you are going to?
- On recent revolutions in the middle east: "How does a country that has a siesta every day do revolution?"
- On learning another language: "You can learn a lot of language if you practice on google for 5 mins every day for a week."
- On if you are left handed and traveling to a middle eastern country: "Depending on where you are going, you might need to learn to be right handed for 2 weeks".
+ At the very end of the day, Casely had everyone find out where their shirt was made from and we went around the room and told everyone what country. People would then respond with "God bless ." Amazing list of countries and incredible perspective.

Bay Area has done this type of thing the last 3 or 4 years for their summer short term teams. It requires a lot of work but the investment is worth it. [Related, but not really, check out the Sent Network, a separate but affiliated org they started focused on church planting.]

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