Early retirement, second career, new beginnings — whatever you may call it, you’re at a unique place in life where your wisdom, experience, and flexibility have never been greater. It is an excellent time to consider missions. Among all the opportunities and open doors before you, this one might be the most unexpected.
And the most rewarding.
Beginning missions later in life
(Three reasons why you need to pray about this.)
1. It’s easier to go. Parental duties are pretty much behind you. Financial independence or retirement income may allow you to go quickly, without the time consuming task of support raising. A lifetime of social networks makes raising prayer or financial support easier. Your years of experience can help you go out (and settle in) more efficiently: leaner, lighter, faster.
2. The mission field needs people like you. Young people have traditionally led the way in missions, and there’s a great need for a little more gray hair on the field. You may bring some very well-honed skills to the work, but your wisdom and experience are priceless contributions. You bring perspective, patience, and people skills. You may be a voice of one who’s walked further in their spiritual journey. You may bring strengths in management or leadership. Whatever your gifts, they come with maturity and enrich the broader work.
3. It will still change you. Old dogs, new tricks – you know how that saying goes. Well, forget it. No matter where you are in your journey, no matter what’s in your past, this is something new. Serving in missions is challenging and humbling work and it changes you in beautiful ways. If you think God still has more to teach you in life, this might be the perfect classroom.
Could Africa be what’s next?
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Following careers as a police officer and social worker, Frank and Cary wondered what God had for them next.
Frank is a retired police officer and Cary, a social worker. In 2005 they moved south to a beautiful town in northeast Tennessee where they thought they’d serve in a local church and grow old together. But one Wednesday evening as Frank was waiting for choir practice to start, his thoughts turned to all the blessings God had provided in their life. Then an uneasy feeling came over him, a feeling that God wanted more; He wanted it all.
God began bringing people into their lives as they investigated what missions could mean for them. After a mission trip to Kenya, they believed Kenya was where God was calling them. But what kind of positions are there for a retired police officer and social worker? They had friends who were dorm parents with AIM at Rift Valley Academy and it seemed like something they could also do. But God seemed to close that door.
Frank and Cary were then offered a position in Nicaragua hosting short term teams for two summers. After the second summer, Nicaragua fell into political turmoil and they began to pray about what God had for them next. He led them back to their first love: Kenya and AIM. They applied, now with a better understanding of missions. God continued to bring amazing mission-minded Christians into their lives, walking with them and pouring into them. With an open mind to where God wanted them, they accepted a position in Africa Inland Mission’s Eastern Region Office in Nairobi, Kenya and have been serving as Short-term Coordinators, investing in young men and women serving through AIM’s short-term program.