Hopefully you now have a mentor and you are ready for the journey to begin. The only problem is, you don’t know what you and your mentor are supposed to do? Or maybe you came across this article because you are a mentor and you don’t know what to do. I have good news—it isn’t that hard! Treat this as an open letter to all mentors. Feel free to pass it on to your mentor or to others who are mentors.
As mentors, you have five basic jobs:
Pray with your friend. If they haven’t gone on the trip yet, make regular appointments to get together and include prayer. Continue to do this even after your trip. You should share prayer requests and pray about decisions together.
Encourage your friend. Here’s a cool way to encourage your short-term missionary. Write several letters and collect several encouraging letters from others and secretly give them to the team leader with instructions to give them to your missionary throughout the trip. Another way to encourage before the trip is to help with raising funds. Help with fundraisers or even be an advocate in asking for donations. After the trip, you can encourage your friend by listening to their stories and pointing out positive change that’s happened already.
Prepare with your friend. There are a lot of last minute errands to run when packing. Help your friend by running errands or even by helping him pack. Don’t forget about the spiritual preparations also. Do something to stimulate spiritual growth in each of you before and even after your trip. This could be studying the Bible together, serving together, or even just getting together and praying together.
Listen to all your friend’s stories. I mentioned this earlier. Your friend will come home bubbling with excitement, stories, and enthusiasm but most people won’t take the time to listen. Show your love by investing your time to attentively listen. While you are listening, look for how God might be guiding and changing your friend. Sometimes an outside perspective is what returning short-term missionaries need. Be on the lookout for the STM blues. Some people become discouraged by the “real world” when they come home. (Check back in the next couple of weeks for an article on the STM blues)
Report your findings. After you have listened and observed your friend following their short-term mission experience, evaluate what you have seen and heard. Encourage your friend by sharing the change you have seen—or confront them about the lack of follow through on change they desire. This will help you be a catalyst in their life. You can’t make decisions for them and you can’t make them change, but you can make their change more powerful!
Much of this information is taken from The Next Mile Mentor Guide. You can download the Mentor Guide as a free PDF. In it you will find helpful ideas, timelines for planning, questions to ask after the trip, an evaluation form, and much more. I know it will be a useful tool as you mentor your short-term missionary.