originally written October 26, 2020
I feel like experience after experience, interactions and small world connections keep layering on top of one another. It’s hard to see clearly what it is God is up to, but I know with confidence that He is in control and sees clearly what my eyes have not brought into focus yet.
What I know— God has used this time home to equip me for what is ahead. He has provided me with learning and examples and reassurances that I may need reminded of later, because I could sometimes be considered an irritant. And sometimes I grow weary.
What? you may say. If you have a role in the church or involvement with a missionary and have been around me any length of time, you know what I mean. An irritant in the mouths of oysters. This is a phrase that I heard at the missionary care conference a few weeks ago, and I think it goes along with Paul’s advice:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
I think being an irritant and advocating on behalf of those serving on the front lines, carrying out God’s mission of reaching the lost among those who otherwise have no opportunity to know the grace and redemption of God’s love is worth it.
And maybe it will even develop into pearls.
This past week, I loaded up in a van with a few people from my church and headed toward Jersey Shore, PA to a place called Wayumi. Ethnos360 runs Wayumi as a mobilization center to plant the seed of tribal church planting through church and youth retreats. We were only there one full day before we headed back, but the impact it had and the understanding it gave was well worth it. I was glad that after mentioning it for three years, I didn’t give up asking for this trip to happen, and that I was here to join in when it did.
The week before that, I attended a conference about missionary care held every year by Barnabas International in North Carolina. What a reassurance it was to hear from others who advocate for church-based missionary care. This means that the church is engaged with and involved in their missionaries’ lives in a way that ensures they will be aware of it if something is physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally awry. And that they’re in a position to help sustain their missionaries through those times.
Right now I’m getting ready to start a second missionary care discussion group involving six churches with missionaries in PNG. The first round of calls went well and were an encouraging time of sharing ideas. My hope is that the conversations will result in deeper connections for each of the churches and their missionaries. These calls focus on shepherding, sharing, relationship, sustaining, sending, praying and receiving. It’s been such an encouragement to see how receptive those who will be part of this next discussion group have been to joining. They’ve each already been looking for ways to engage more with their missionaries. Some of these same people I contacted a year ago and never heard back from. But God has brought it about in His timing.
A few weeks before that, I attended a debriefing training on how to walk missionaries in transition through their stress, grief and loss and how to help them care for their souls in those times, directing them toward their loving Father. I hope to combine concepts from this training and the debriefing I participated in this summer to lead a second ladies retreat for a few of my PNG co-workers in mid-November. I almost gave up on the idea, but I received news today that another person may be interested.