Adopt A SM

12-14 years, 14-16 years, 16+ years
Anticipate Time
1 hour min
2-5, 5-15, 15-30, 30
Kindness, Love, Nurture, Service


Pathfinders select a student missionary who is serving in a remote situation and put together a package to send to them.

Scripture Focus

Memory Verse

Hebrews 10: 24
Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.

Not all can serve in far-flung places, but those who do make sacrifices: isolation… loneliness… long hours… Their lives are enormously enriched by serving, but the reality of isolation can often sting. They can easily think they are alone. They can easily assume their work is incidental. They can easily perceive their role to be inconsequential. They are wrong. God sees and smiles. Will we see and act?

This Pursuit will show Pathfinders that there is a larger church out there to care about, and show a student missionary that a larger church cares.


A list of names of Student Missionaries (particularly those in more isolated places) should be obtained from the Volunteer Services Coordinator at the Division Office (refer to Resources for contact details). It may be the Co-ordinator knows the person you select. Gather as much information as possible about them and their interests. If an email address is available, you may like to contact them yourself prior to doing this Pursuit. You can then get some direct input about the details of their life and role.


Session One
  1. Share a story, letter, or experience which captures the loneliness of a missionary’s life. (If you have no contacts with former missionaries or stories, refer to the Appendix for some ‘missionarying reflections’ ). Share highlights which also make up for this loneliness, so that a balanced view can be portrayed.
    Ask: If you were in this situation what things would you miss?
  2. Outline the intent of this Pursuit: that your group is going to select a name of a student missionary serving in some far flung place, and identify a number of items that they would really appreciate receiving from ‘the homeland’. Think creatively about what kinds of basic things they could really be missing. Urge the participants to plan their contribution to this activity.
    NB. It is important that this project doesn’t lose momentum. If the next meeting is too far down the track, you may have to organise a special get together with the group.
  3. Brainstorm together a list of non-perishable items that could be donated for this project. Such items could include:
      • Stationery items (particularly novel, unusual ones).
      • Cool wipes (if the environment is hot).
      • Writing Paper.
      • A Sunday Paper.
      • Sticky notepads.
      • Recent Insight Magazines/The Record/The Edge.
      • Hard lollies
      • Small inspirational books/poems and stories (they will not only uplift the SM, but they provide great resource material for the worships and sermons the SM is invariably involved with).
      • Marmite
      • Chocolate from your Homeland
      • Tiny national mascot toy or small national flag
      • Notes of encouragement gathered from a number of people indicating people are praying for them
    Invite the participants to bring items such as these back with them for the second session of this Pursuit.
Session Two
  1. Invite the participants to sit in a circle around the box, a tape recorder and a blank cassette.
  2. Turn on the machine and allow everyone in turn introduce themselves, tell three facts about themselves, and share what they are putting in the box. The group can also share current events, songs, jokes, ask questions – whatever they decide to do. (It will be important for them to plan this response so that the taping session doesn’t disintegrate due to unpreparedness or embarrassment)
  3. Close with a prayer for the Student Missionary. Seal the box and prepare for shipping. (A note inside the box from you as the leader, inviting a response from the SM, may ensure that the Pathfinders feel a sense of satisfaction and positive reinforcement from this Pursuit.)


Leaders, be sure to follow up on discussing when and how the Pathfinders saw the memory text in action throughout this Pursuit. 
Select from the questions below:

  • How do you think the Student Missionary will feel on when they receive this? How would you feel?
  • Who would like to serve one day as an SM? What ways do you think your life would be made ‘better’ by your service?
  • Is a random act of kindness such as this worth the effort? Why or why not?
  • Jesus came to us as a missionary. How could we let Him know we appreciate His efforts?
  • In what ways are you a ‘missionary’? (Any Christian is really a missionary). Talk about the type of missionary you might be and what unspoken messages you are giving all day long.
  • Each morning this week, set a time to pray and ask God to send His Spirit to you so that your ‘messages’ to others about Him are true ones.


Reflections of Two Volunteers in Africa

Paul Crawford

After spending several weeks thinking long and hard about whether or not I really did want to go half-way around the world to work my fingers to the bone for nothing but a slap on the back and a warm fuzzy feeling, I finally decided to take the plunge.

After several weeks of organizing details like travel documents, personal supplies and having massive vaccination needles jabbed into my flesh, I spent about 20 hours on planes before arriving in deepest, darkest Africa!

The first challenge I met after walking across the tarmac towards a passenger terminal pock-marked with the scars of earlier wars was to get through immigration and customs only to find that there had been a mix-up with my arrival details. The people who were supposed to meet me were nowhere to be seen! I was alone in a foreign country with no knowledge of where to turn. So began a year of immense challenges to my personal, spiritual and professional development.

Life as a volunteer in central Africa brought for me enormous rewards, but there were also times of extreme exhaustion, anxiety and homesickness. I recall one time when I had been living in a tented camp in north-east Rwanda managing a food distribution project when I had cause to drive the 2 hours to Kigali, the capital city. Part of the journey took me through some bush dominated by gum trees. The soil in that part of the country is quite red in colour, similar to parts of Western NSW where I had spent a lot of time. The imagery and feel of the place brought a wave of homesickness, almost making me cry. The stress of the post-war weeks, combined with the loneliness of being posted in a remote part of the country without any form of communication had worn my tolerance thin. Just the smell of the gum trees made me think about the people, places and things that I’d left behind. Although I don‚t regret making the decision to volunteer in Africa, the reality is that there were some very tough times to be weathered. Having occasional letters and faxes from friends and family in Australia were amongst the high-points which carried me through.

Nigel Koolik

What’s it like coming from Australia to a developing country like this?

You feel apprehension, nervous, you hear stories about life in the third world…violence… crime… Is it all true?
You are leaving behind friends, family – everything familiar.
Will we find find friends?
There is so much we miss… Family, friends, movies, reliable and quick correspondence, food like chocolate, smiths crisps, grapes, apples, oranges…

There are no supermarkets, no malls, and very little English.
People point and stare, everybody thinks you are rich, we’re so easily identified as an outsider,
friends are few…

I think life is more different than difficult. However for the local’s life can be very difficult in Rwanda. About 80% of the population live on less than US$1 per day, about 12-15% of the population is HIV positive and rains are becoming more sporadic (greenhouse effect?). There are high levels of trauma in the society from the war/genocide a few years back – orphans, child-led households, widows … are a way of life.

Want to try and live like an ADRA worker in the third world?

  • Only spend 5 minutes every day connected to the internet – and connect at 7.2kb/s. Connections in the developing world are not reliable and sometimes we go or days without having a connection.
  • Boil all your drinking water
  • Get all of your water (drinking, eating, showering, toilet etc) from the back tap
  • Live on bread, rice, potatoes, dried beans, tomatoes, bananas, oil, salt, sweet potato, pasta, butter, jam, a few herbs for the week (3 meals a day)There is not enough water pressure often to use a shower – and there is no running water on project sites.
    To have a shower you can either:
  1. Have a cold bucket bath (fill a bucket with water and get a mug and pour the water over you soap up and rinse off)
  2. Leave a bucket in the sun during the day to warm the water then use it for a bucket bath,
  3. Heat water up on the stove and put it in a bucket for a bucket bath,
  4. Use a kettle to heat the water for the bucket bath.Challenges are everywhere.