Ray Busuttil, a mobiliser with European Christian Mission (ECM), says there has been an encouraging increase in the number of retirees participating in missions, and for the most part, joining the mission field for the first time.
“It’s encouraging that opportunities in missions have become more available for people in retirement. And online platforms and social media have made it easier for people to be informed about what’s possible.”
Ray says that ECM have had very positive outcomes with retirees participating in short term missions, some as long as two years. He says their mature input has provided moral and practical support to missionary teams, having a very positive effect on team dynamics.
“Retirees can reach a different demographic and help build new contacts and bridges in communities. The advantage is that this influence can be passed-on to other team members.”
“There has been an encouraging increase in the number of retirees participating in missions, and for the most part, joining the mission field for the first time.”
Ray says it's normal for retirees to have doubts and fears and feel they might not be cut out for it, but he encourages them to understand that God is leading them and it’s not just about fulfilling a role.
“It will be a stretching period in your spiritual walk – but you will grow, stepping out in faith and being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
“You will be blessed and you’ll be a blessing!”
One of Ray’s roles as a mobiliser is to mentor new missionaries. Below he addresses a few key points concerning retirees and missions.
Retirees often have years of experience in the workplace and possess many valuable skills that are still very useful. These can be of great service on the mission field. However, we help prepare retirees to not have too high expectations in how successfully they can contribute. Generally in the workplace, success relies on our performance measured by outcomes, but that doesn’t necessarily transfer to a cross cultural setting. I counsel retirees to relinquish control and depend on God and I remind them that their spiritual maturity, and life experience, are valuable qualities in a ministry context.
Concerns about health is often a topic raised by retirees but if you’re in reasonably good health, most concerns need not restrict your participation. Depending on the condition, it can often be worked around and a mission agency will help you work out the right insurance cover along with discussing any risks. A mission agency’s intention is for you to not be alone and your safety is paramount so they will help ensure you’re connected to doctors and hospitals with access to medication if needed. At ECM, most retirees have managed well as most conditions can be addressed responsibly.
It is important that retirees who undertake short term missions, whether that be for three months or up to two years, are connected to supporters at home. As retirees are mostly self-funded and unlikely to have financial support from a church or sponsor, as is the case for long-term missionaries, they are more vulnerable to feeling disconnected from their communities in Australia. It can’t be underestimated the benefit in knowing that people are praying for you. So we encourage retirees to have people supporting them in prayer and to keep them updated with regular emails or newsletters.