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This Baby Boomer Couple Is Shattering Preconceptions About Short-Term Mission

If your mental picture of short-term mission includes a 20-something kid searching for adventure and self-affirmation, think again. At Serve Asia, our desire is to help individuals transcend this limited view and find their place in God’s mission, whether it’s for the short or the long-term.

Don and Shari-Lou are one such couple who have begun to find their place in mission, and come from the rising demographic of the retiree mission worker.

Meet Shari-Lou

After getting sick on previous mission trips, Shari-Lou, a retired teacher, was afraid of going on another mission placement where she would only get sick again. As she read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, she surrendered her fears to the Lord, who gave her confidence for what lay ahead.

Shari-Lou went on to spend 6 months in Taiwan, a placement that turned out differently than she had expected. Because she had been trained to be flexible and adaptable, she was able to face the unexpected.

Other experiences for her required 2-3 hours of preparation each night for teaching all day. The verse “I can do all things through Christ” was a reminder “I’m not doing these on my own, He will provide.”

In addition to the time in Taiwan, God has taken Shari-Lou and her husband Don to Thailand six times since 2012! They serve at the James O. Fraser Biblical Training for Life Centre in Thailand where students study English at the residential centre while being discipled in preparation to study Bible Theology. “Some students think they are Christian because their fathers are pastors but through time, tears and a surrendering heart, their heart changes.”

Witnessing the changing hearts of students has been an encouragement to Shari-Lou, who shared she has, “never been happier than to be here. But only God can give that joy and peace, this is in his will. I wouldn’t want to be elsewhere.”

  Meet Don

A former business manager, Don always had a desire to be involved in mission. So, when retirement approached, he wanted to be more involved in kingdom work. Through the Perspectives programme, Don learned a disproportionate amount of time and money is spent on countries that already have the gospel. As many people in Asia have not heard the gospel, this built a compelling case to go to where the need was the greatest.

Don expressed the challenge of being away from family, including their eight grandchildren, missing birthdays and even Christmas together. Yet, paralleled with this is the pain of leaving the students in Thailand who have become like a second family.

Although it is a struggle emotionally to leave their second family in Thailand when they return home, Don explains developing relationships is one of the benefits of returning to the same Serve Asia placement over the years. With the continuity of service, they have come to know the families of students and even attended weddings. By returning to the same place, Don has seen the help it is to long-term missionaries who, “don’t have to hand hold” them during their time on placement.

“We really see work in the graduates – just in the seminary, half a dozen or eight full time missionaries. Our prayer is that these tribal students don’t keep it to themselves – but they go out.”

Don and Shari-Lou demonstrate that short-term mission has many faces and no matter your age or skill God has a plan and a purpose for you. Don stated, “Only God could create this position that works for us both. God willing, if we go back next Sept/Oct, we will be covering for another missionary going for home assignment.” As Don and Shari-Lou follow the call God has on their lives, would you pray for them and others like them?

One last word of advice, “don’t let them (obstacles) stop you from making inquiry (to mission), whether language, family ties, lack of theological training – these things are not obstacles, as long as you are willing.”


Will you pray?

There are many able-bodied, educated Christian baby boomers who could be in places helping and sharing. Pray they will find their place in mission.

Pray individuals will realize as Don did that you don’t have to be a theologian to be of use on the mission field.

Pray for unity amongst 10 of them there on the team and for nationals as they begin to take on leadership roles.

Pray missionaries would be outward looking and love people who are different from them.

Pray for Don and Shari-Lou to remain healthy and for problems with knees.

Pray for their children and grandchildren to know the Lord.

Pray for renewal of visas.

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