If you’ve ever attended a local or regional missions conference, you’ve probably strolled past dozens of mission agency booths—perhaps even Wycliffe Canada’s. You may even have talked with a mission rep to learn more about their organization, or picked up a brochure or magazine to take home.
For decades, such events have proved helpful for thousands of people who are pondering how their skills and interests might fit in missions. But for some, the sheer number of agencies represented, coupled with the staggering number of service options around the world, can be overwhelming.
That’s why Wycliffe Canada’s director of mobilization, Lois Anderson, and her cross-Canada team of mission coaches are exploring how to better connect with people considering short-term service or a career in missions. That means moving beyond a single conversation at an event, by walking alongside interested people over time in a “journey of discernment.”
“We’re here to walk with inquirers, their family and their church through the process of discerning God’s call,” says Lois.
Addressing the Need
Mindful that around 2,000 language groups still need Scripture in the language they know best, Lois is passionate about helping people channel their skills and experience for the sake of Bible translation.
“Discovering God’s call can be overwhelming, risky, costly and frightening,” Lois says, “but no one has to do it alone.
“We help people identify and take the next step.”
Lois is also motivated to provide resources for Wycliffe’s partner organizations around the world—resources that include skilled personnel. For that part of her role, she brings an insider’s perspective.
An MK, or “missionary kid” who grew up in Papua New Guinea, she served in Cameroon for 20 years as a teacher and administrator at Rain Forest International School.
“I was director of the school and I had to find people to fill a variety of positions. That’s a problem all over—there’s just never enough people in any position.”
Lois admits that helping someone discern how and where they can find a good fit for their particular skill set can be challenging. In fact, after weeks or months of corresponding by email, chatting on Zoom and praying together, an inquirer may feel that Wycliffe isn’t a good fit for them after all—and that’s OK.
That’s because Lois and her teammates work closely with other mission agencies and networks. The collaborative approach and spirit of generosity that unites the agencies helps ease the fears of prospective candidates, while exposing them to a broad variety of opportunities.
Relationships are also being forged with campus ministries like Power to Change and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
Opportunity to Innovate
Despite these and other encouraging links with like-minded organizations, Lois admits the pandemic has complicated her team’s commitment to walking with individuals on a journey of discovery. Even so, they are finding ways to connect with people through online events.
In October, an online event called “Beyond Your Back Yard” drew 43 participants. Nearly a third of them requested follow-up with a mission coach, to explore how their skills might be used in missions.
Additionally, those interested in linguistics can join in online chapels held by Wycliffe Canada’s training partner, the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL) in B.C. and Ontario. And although Wycliffe’s adventure fundraiser, “Race to 2025” is on hold, past race co-ordinator Sam Wuermli is working to maintain relationships with Christian schools and colleges across Western Canada through their online programs.
Not Just Students
While school campuses and conferences like Urbana are popular venues to meet young people with a heart for missions, the mobilization team is also keen to connect with “restless professionals”—people from 20 to 35 who already have a profession but feel they want to be more involved in missions.
“Figuring out what works best for them, and how we communicate best with them, is probably the most challenging part of my job right now,” says Lois.
Even as she works to help people find a fit for their skills in missions, Lois is pleased that her role with Wycliffe allows room for her to teach—through an online Bible class she leads for Rain Forest International School.
“That brings me a lot of joy,” she says. “In terms of my work in mobilization, I would say anything that involves talking to people, presenting, being able to share translation and personnel needs in person—that’s what gets me fired up.”
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