Bruce Wall, who matches LCMS groups with short-term mission assignments on behalf of LCMS World Mission, says it’s definitely a good thing that he’s received requests from Hong Kong and Macau for 160 to 200 volunteer teams to serve there over the next 12 months.
There is a “huge need” for Americans to teach English in Asia, Wall said, and he could easily feel overwhelmed at the idea of filling so many requests.
But the cheery Wall puts it all into perspective: The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has 6,000 congregations, and if each team is sponsored by a separate congregation, “it’s a small percentage.” About 1 percent of LCMS congregations could provide enough teams to fill the need, he says.
Virtually all of the requests are for groups that can teach English as a foreign language to children and adults. No experience is necessary, according to Wall.
“As long as you can speak English, that’s the only requirement,” he says.
Teams can have from six to 20 members — preferably all from the same congregation — and they serve assignments lasting from 10 days to three weeks (although longer terms, up to six months, are available).
The cost per person ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, depending upon airfare and available housing, and LCMS World Mission provides each group with ideas for raising the funds so that individuals who want to serve can do so, regardless of their own financial situations, according to Wall.
To date, no team has failed to raise enough travel funds, he said.
Teams teach English primarily in Lutheran schools, where the curriculum is Bible-based, he said, and typically only about 20 percent of students are Christian.
Groups with “special gifts” are encouraged to use them on the field, as well. One group, for example, performed skits for elementary-school classes.
Wall said he hopes that congregations that sponsor short-term mission groups also will develop ongoing relationships with the people they serve by responding to their specific needs, supporting them with prayer, and sending teams on a regular basis.
On the flip side, he says he’s confident that the overseas experiences also will “challenge and encourage” stateside Lutherans to serve more than once — perhaps even as long-term missionaries.
The program “is a great way for congregations to be involved in mission work,” he said.
For more information, contact Wall at (800) 433-3954, Ext. 1306, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teams also may apply online at www.lcmsworldmission.org (click on “Service Opportunities,” then “Short-Term Teams”).
Posted Aug. 11, 2006