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Questions about starting an after-50 missions career

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Thinking about making the transition to missions after 50? Here are some questions boomers and retirees frequently ask about starting a missions career during their “second half.”
Q: Should I involve other Christians in my plans?
A: Solicit the prayers of others throughout the process. “You have to bathe this totally in prayer and wait for [God’s] answer,” counsels Evelyn Malone, 51, who’s heading for a mission assignment in Mexico. “And don’t wait until the last minute to let others in on what you’re doing.” Your church can be a valuable resource in moving, packing and preparing spiritually.”
Q: Is there an age limit?
A: Not for International Service Corps or Masters Program missionaries. Your health will be the determining factor. If you wish to pursue career missions after age 45, you can apply as a missionary associate.
Q: What should I do about medical care?
A: Update your medical records and keep several copies handy. You will be asked to fill out a preliminary health questionnaire to receive medical clearance. As an associate, you will have a thorough physical examination.
Q: Do I need to buy my own health insurance?
A: Only if you are a short-term volunteer. ISC, Masters and associate missionaries will have health insurance provided by the International Mission Board.
Q: Do I have to provide my own financial support?
A: Only if you are a short-term volunteer. The board provides financial support to ISC, Masters and associate missionaries.
Q: What if I still have financial commitments?
A: Candidates for Masters and International Service Corps must have very low debt — no more than $75 per month for singles and $125 per month for couples. For associates, the total debt limit is $1,500. Volunteers who provide their own financial support should make arrangements for these payments to be covered.
Q: What about my house?
A: If you’re close to paying off your house, you might want to finish before you go overseas for longer terms. If not, make sure you’re at or below the manageable level of debt for your category. You may choose to sell or rent your house while you’re overseas. Make sure to start the proceedings early so you aren’t strapped with excess debt or red tape at the last minute. You also can give someone power of attorney to look after your property and financial affairs while you’re away.
Q: Can I go ahead of my spouse if he or she is delayed?
A: No. The International Mission Board chooses not to separate families, so your leave date will be postponed until both of you can participate in your assignment together.
Q: What kind of living conditions should I expect?
A: Economic conditions, living standards and climate vary widely from place to place. The board will help you select the location best suited to your health and other personal needs.
Q: What about pets?
A: The best choice for pets of ISC and Masters participants is to find a suitable temporary home for them. In longer-term situations, pets may or may not be able to accompany you based on the regulations of your country. Quarantining pets for a specified time may be necessary.
Q: Do I have enough education to qualify? Do I need seminary?
A: For International Service Corps and Masters, a high school diploma is sufficient, although higher education will make you eligible for a wider range of assignments. Volunteer qualifications vary based on assignment but generally do not require a college degree. For associates, college and seminary requirements depend upon the assignment.
Q: Will I able to return home during my assignment?
A: For ISC or Masters workers, it’s possible to take a vacation — at home or elsewhere — after a certain length of time. Associates get one month of vacation each year but can return to the United States only after completing language study.