Names in this piece have been changed or omitted for security.
When is the best time to go into overseas missions? Most of Rosedale International’s workers go on the field after finishing college or having a few children, but as Colleen observed, “we never reach an age when we’re exempt from the great commission.” As the Director of Human Resources for Rosedale International (RI), Colleen mentors and supports workers during all stages of their time with RI. While few retirees decide to be overseas workers, Colleen thinks they might be an untapped resource for missions. She is excited for one long-term RI worker who plans to pioneer this concept.
In 1973 Dan followed God’s call to work with Rosedale International in Central America in his early twenties. He engaged in missions in Nicaragua and other places around the world for the next few decades. As mission opportunities opened up in southeast Asia, he made another big move to Thailand in 2004. He spent the next 13 years sharing the light of God with people in Thailand and other nearby countries. Two years ago, Dan moved back to the U.S. and continued to serve God through ministries in Columbus, Ohio. This year, after retiring from work with RI, Dan plans to persist in following the call of God through what he calls “retirement as missions.”
“I want to continue with what God has called me to: contributing to the efforts to reach the nations with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ,” Dan said. “I see this as another life transition – continuing something I have worked at all my adult life, but in a new setting and in a new way.”
Most people look forward to retirement as a time of rest and reward for a life of hard work. Dan admitted that he does not have the energy he had in his early career, and finds traveling more difficult than he did when he first moved to Nicaragua, but he knows that he is still valuable on the mission field. With an older body comes all of the knowledge and wisdom gained through decades of life experiences.
Colleen mentioned that in her years of working with Dan, he often used lessons he learned in previous work to lead future endeavors. “Learning from mistakes in the past and helping guide RI has been a really important part of his role here,” Colleen said.
Colleen has seen Dan’s strengths as an overseas worker grow over the years and she is excited to see those gifts utilized again. Those who have worked with Dan notice his apostolic and prophetic gifting. He is quick to challenge the status quo and inspire fellow workers to think outside of the box. Colleen noted that even in the last two years of being in the U.S., Dan has brought fresh vision and approaches to the ministries he has joined in Columbus as well as the fellowship they both attend.
Back when she was on REACH in Thailand, Colleen was highly impacted by Dan’s ability to call out truth in the lives of others. “The main reason that I went back long-term was that he invited me to be a part of their team in Bangkok,” she said. “He pointed to specific things that he thought would be an asset to the team. I think he’s honed in to people’s potential and sees a lot of possibilities. I think in his own way he’s been a good recruiter for missions.”
“God has given much experience to retirees and we need to use our time of retirement to make a difference by engaging, not retiring from God’s work.”
It is not surprising that Dan’s forward thinking has led him to pursuing missions in his retirement. He said, “God has given much experience to retirees and we need to use our time of retirement to make a difference by engaging, and not retiring from God’s work. It is important to know what God is doing in reaching the nations – both worldwide and in our specific location. All retirees can find ways to use our experience and expertise to contribute to the work of God locally and globally.”
One benefit of retiring overseas is that in many non-western countries, the cost of living is significantly cheaper. For example, Thailand provides excellent medical attention at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. – this could be especially important to someone who needs extra health care. Dan recognizes the financial benefit of retiring in a country that would make his money last longer, but he also sees a need. He said, “I want to invest in others who are younger and have the same calling to reach the nations with the good news. The work goes on led by dedicated people of younger generations and many nations, and I can mentor and encourage them in the tasks God has called them to.”
Retirement may not be the best time to begin life alone in a new city or country, but there are plenty of options to join existing teams. It takes many believers working together to make a difference in one location. Dan said, “I have seen significant changes in the lives of individuals, families, villages, cities, and people groups through hearing the good news of Jesus. If we work together, momentous transformation is possible.”
Colleen mentioned that support roles would be a perfect way for a retired person to join a team overseas. RI workers would appreciate and benefit from having someone as an intercessor and a mentor who lives in their community. Having previous overseas missions experience would be an added bonus, but even general life experience would be valuable to younger families, couples, and singles on the field.
“It feels like it’s an open door for a lot of people in that age group,” Colleen said. “There are many countries that would extend a visa to older people as long as they have money to support themselves. I think that retired people could be a new mission’s force to support long term workers or to live intentionally without needing a job or work permit. I think it is more credible in some ways in countries that are closed to overt mission work.”
RI is grateful for the example Dan is setting, and is excited by the possibility of others joining him.
Colleen said, “While he can probably find people to invest in wherever he is, I don’t think he is ever going to be someone who retires and kicks back or goes to the golf course. He is always going to be living out his life missionally and intentionally, but how he goes about that changes depending on his phase of life.”
“We live in an exciting time where God is advancing the cause of reaching the nations in exciting ways.” Dan said. “There are opportunities all around us. As retired persons, and people planning retirement, we need to seek appropriate ways to become involved in God’s work.”
If you are retiring or nearing retirement and are interested in retirement as missions, please contact RI at firstname.lastname@example.org.