When you have clearly stated goals for your mission trip and well-defined strategies for meeting those goals, then you will know whom you should take with you and what skills they will need.
Most people who want to go with LST have the basic skills to accomplish their tasks effectively, but some people do not. LST mission trips are 90% building relationships through friendly conversations with people who want to improve their English language skills. One young man from small-town USA wanted to go with us one year, but nobody could understand him when he talked because he mumbled badly and swallowed his words. LST sometimes has university students from non-English speaking countries who want to go with LST teams—and who often speak English very well for a non-native speaker—but we advise them not to because our experience is that people in other countries do not want to practice their English with non-native speakers.
Some people hate to make small talk; others are not empathetic enough to understand why others can’t speak English right! Some people hate travel; others hate sitting all day. These are not moral failures or lapses in righteousness, just different gifts for different members of the Body!
People who are painfully shy or hard-core loners will probably find an LST mission project challenging. These same people will have all the skills for a different kind of mission trip, however, where verbal and social skills aren’t so critical! The organizers of mission trips must pray for wisdom and discernment—and then not be afraid to use them in recruiting and selecting the best workers for their project.
Here’s a short list of suggestions for you:
- Determine what tasks are required by the objectives of your mission project
- Recruit workers who have both the desire and gifts to accomplish the objectives of the mission project. Every member of the body is made for the work that he/she does best.
- Don’t be afraid to suggest alternatives for some people! Asking somebody to do something that they can’t do is not being kind, nor is it putting the health of the Body first!
- Be responsible for the well-being of everyone that you take with you! We actually took the mumbling young man—but we spent a lot of extra time making sure both he and the people he worked with were happy.
So now we have clearly stated the objectives and goals of the mission trip and we know who needs to go on the trip, so the next step in designing our preparation and training is to determine good ways of either developing or honing the special skills we might need.
Skill training for short-term missions will be the next topic in our series on Preparing for Short-term Missions.