Have you ever been in a situation where someone from your church has been on a short-term mission trip and you aren’t sure what to ask them about their experiences?
Well, here are four questions to try:
1. What do you miss about your host country?
Welcoming a short-term worker back home is exciting! But do remember that moving between countries – even returning home – can be difficult practically, emotionally and spiritually. If you can show interest in their everyday experiences, and understand that they may be grieving for the life they built in their host country, you will not only help them to make a healthy transition, but you will probably hear more interesting stories!
2. How can we pray for your friends?
Short-term workers often get asked a lot of questions about their host countries – and although that is interesting, they may not be fully up-to-date with the political climate, or technological advances of that country. If you ask about people, and about the relationships they built, you will hear stories that they’re really passionate about. It will also be a comfort to the worker to have people willing to stand with them in prayer for the people they have grown to care about so much.
3. What did you see God do?
However proud you may be of your short-term worker, remember that they are just a person with weaknesses, failings, and struggles. Don’t expect them to have an amazing repertoire of stories about their skills and achievements. Instead ask them how they saw God work through them, and what they learned about his character. Often workers abroad know very keenly that any fruitfulness they have seen overseas is absolutely not because of their own strength! Give credit where credit is due, and praise God together for their safe return and for all he is doing in their host country.
4. What did a normal day look like for you?
Short-term workers might feel pressure to only share dramatic, insightful stories about culture and conversions, but let them know you’re interested in their day-to-day reality too! It’s good for them to talk about their experiences of cross-cultural living, language learning, and homesickness. And you’ll gain a much more rounded understanding of life in the host country. If you ask this sort of question you’ll probably hear some more humorous stories, too!
From a Serve Asia worker