Looking for tomorrow's missionaries

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--"Hands On" is "a recognition of the need to mentor a younger generation in missions," said Chad Stillwell, one of the coordinators of the new initiative.

"This is so we'll have career missionaries for the future, but also people who are active in local churches and have a heart for what God's doing around the world," Stillwell said.

The International Mission Board's various Hands On projects, beginning in January 2008, will give 18- to 29-year-olds experience in the nitty-gritty of overseas missions as they consider a long-term commitment, particularly college students willing to forgo a semester of study in order to experience missionary life abroad.

Sub-Saharan Africa will be the pilot location for 2008. The program will expand to other parts of the world by 2009, Stillwell said.

Hands On will immerse young adults in a culture and language for four to five months so they can share the love of Jesus. Volunteers will work in both rural and urban areas, with projects ranging from inner-city evangelism to auto repair.

There are 60 openings for Hands On volunteers for next 2008 and a need for 100 volunteers for the fall of 2008. Applications for spring 2008 are due Oct. 20, 2007.

The individual cost for a 2008 Hands On volunteer to travel to Africa and live in his or her assigned country for a semester will be $2,600, plus passport and immunization fees.

Although the full cost per person is $7,000, the International Mission Board is subsidizing the difference to make the endeavor more affordable for young adults, Stillwell said.

"We wanted to remove a barrier for the participant," he said. "Our goal is that they will decide to enter the journeyman [two-year overseas missionary] process and might feel God's call to career missions by being part of an experience that's longer than a couple of weeks or even two months in the summer.

"Sometimes [the real experience of] daily missionary life can be avoided while on a week- or month-long trip," Stillwell said, "[but] this is a chance to be immersed in it."


Lydia DeGozo is a writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. Information about Hands On ministry opportunities can be accessed at www.hands-on-africa.com or via e-mail to handson@gowestafrica.org.

Download Story