For-Profit, Non-Profit, Missions Work - What’s the Difference?

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When I talk about my workday to some of my friends, there have been times where they said that they were jealous. Having come from a long day of work and office politics in their for-profit companies, my day of shorter office hours and independency seemed like a dream to them. They then talk about their thoughts of doing a career change and wanting to come over to the non-profit side because they think it’s “easier”. However, I remind them that the grass is always greener on the other side.

People with similar values and interests are normally gathered together in a non-profit organization. As far as general teamwork and using your time and energy at work goes, working together shouldn't be too difficult since you are working for similar values and interests as your coworkers. Although you may clash with their working styles, you keep at it since you feel more committed to the organization’s purpose and cause (compared to for-profit companies where money is always the bottom line). 

For the most part, in a non-profit organization, your voice matters. You are always checking back to your organization’s vision and mission statement when you’re doing your tasks and making decisions. While doing so, if you feel that what you and your team are doing doesn’t align with the vision, you can speak up. Don't be afraid to state your opinion as it most likely will be heard and the tasks could be re-evaluated. The finances for non-profits may be limited so using time and money on something that doesn’t fit with the organization’s vision and values would be a waste so the sooner you speak up about a concern, the better it will be for the whole organization. In corporate settings, you are just one fish in the big sea, therefore, you must follow the leader. It’s hard to bring up your opinion and even if do and people in your team agree, if the higher-ups say to do so, then you have to follow and just do it. Granted it might be since they have the bigger picture in mind, but it doesn’t make doing the work any easier if you feel that it’s a waste of your individual time. 

Since the resources of nonprofits are limited usually each employee has to wear many different hats to get the job done. I’ve had to be the operations, admin, finance, marketer, and janitor all at once when working at a non-profit. Although the normal office hours may be shorter, you make up for it with the unlimited hours you put in to complete an upcoming project - possibly staying in the office till midnight, then going home to keep working at it because there simply aren’t enough hands to help finish it. Also, even though the office hours might be shorter, many times you’re still on work-mode even at home (which is the case for many corporate jobs as well). You have to learn to be flexible and work with what you’ve got.  

In my personal experience, the main difference that I could state between working at corporations or an NGO is that if the NGO is missions/religion related then you don’t have to worry too much about being questioned about your religious beliefs/values by co-workers or your clients. Missions teams/religious NGOs are usually formed with people who share the same religion, beliefs, and values. You can also comfortably talk about it out in the open as well as that is what you are most likely working for. There are also times where as a team, we can spiritually build each other up, openly praying for one another and being able to have real and deep conversations.

There are many other differences but at the end of the day, there are also many similarities so there really isn’t one “easier” job. You have good days and you have bad days; you are physically tired one day and the next you’re emotionally tired. It’s really what you make of it that will determine your happiness and contentment at work - regardless of you working at a for-profit company or a non-profit organization.


Caring for your Missionary

Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

This blog is for the senders. For the families, the friends, the church members, the pastors who walk alongside the missionaries as they prepare for the field and raise support. Those who drive the van to the airport loaded with trunks filled with what can seem like the most random of things (Cake mixes! Several years’ worth of deodorant!) Those who receive emails in the early days, hearts filled with so much empathy for their tired, language-school-brain-fried, cultural-transition-overwhelmed friend. Those who pray, write, send packages, Skype- most importantly those who want to care for their loved ones serving overseas and want to care for them well. These are some ways big and small you can love your missionary well through the different seasons of their service.

1. Know that they’ve changed

Who you said goodbye to at the airport or during their commissioning service doesn’t exist anymore. They have learned a new culture, language, formed new relationships. Their past ways of viewing the world don’t all work anymore and their worldview has shifted. Their priorities and context are different now. Just keep this in mind as you stay connected and love and support them while they experience being changed by their new lives and work.

2. Let them be real

For many missionaries it feels like they can’t fully express their challenges and worries to the “back home” crowd, even those who are in positions to support them. They don’t want to worry friends and family, they don’t want to look like they are failing or struggling for their church community, they don’t want to worry about losing financial support. There is nothing “abnormal” about the struggles missionaries go through and they need a place to be real, struggling people just like the rest of us. It’s okay if you can’t relate to all their struggles, you can still be a support and give them a safe space to be real about their challenges without worry about losing financial support or “looking like a failure.”

3. Normalize the need for regular counseling.

Missionaries are undergoing a lot of transition adjustment, stress, loneliness, and theological questions. They need to process their grief, big and small ways they feel like a failure, the questions are struggling with about their faith, where God is in suffering, etc…and all the ways they wish they could do more. Counseling should not be just for when things have gotten too severe as a last ditch effort. Counseling, member care check-ins, spiritual directors are great things to have regularly for missionaries to thrive. If you are supporting the missionaries as a church, help enable counseling or soul care to be a reality for your missionaries. If you are a friend or family member, normalize the need for counseling and soul care.

4. Stay in touch

In the early days on the field the emails from a longer update to a “Was praying for you today” can be so encouraging. As the months and years go on, though, your missionary now has a new home and community and life and for them to keep up regular communication can be quite tough. So please do extend grace if they don’t respond to every email. However, staying in touch shows your intentionality, care and it can help keep them connected to their other life.

5. Care packages

Care packages can be such a treat! Little tastes of home, thoughtful notes, something they don’t have access to can all be a great gift. Do take a little time to research the practicals, i.e. what you can/can’t ship to their country though (Once a dear friend shipped us a great deal of baking supplies but it surpassed our country’s customs allotment and ultimately ended up being thrown out). Other things to consider- valuable-ness (may be taken by customs or post office workers) and of course, no used tea bags (ha).

6. Support them well on furlough

Know that visits back/furlough aren’t usually a “vacation.” These trips are usually a whirlwind of speaking engagements, connecting face to face with supporters and meeting with friends and family. Often the trip home can be more tiring than the day to day life on the field! Remember when they first arrive to be thoughtful about what you might want if you’d flown around the world (possibly with small ones in tow!) Also, practical helps go a long way such as a car to borrow, a place to stay or babysitting so parents can go on a date. Simply asking “How can I support you during this furlough?” is a great question to ask.

7. Finances

Financial support is obviously a great and very practical way to care. In addition to monthly support, special one-time gifts like “go on a date” can a huge blessing, especially as missionaries on support can often feel guilty to “splurge” on a date night or a rare bag import potato chips spotted at the market. However, these things really do help sustain those on the field and show that you care about them and not just the outreach or the unreached people.

8. Prayer support:

We know prayer is powerful, but sometimes “prayer support” can seem like a throwaway. It is definitely not, of course. What can be particularly meaningful are some quick emails “prayed for your health today” or for myself, sometimes prayer partners have sent their written out prayers now and then which is an encouragement. As a missionary, the thought of “being forgotten” can be a common one, so for someone to say they are praying and then show how reminds those serving they are not forgotten. Also, for churches-organizing different prayer groups assigned to each missionary serving on the field can be a good idea for continuous prayer support.

For short-term teams visiting the field:

Much has already been said on how short-term teams can either be a blessing or a challenge for the on-field missionaries, so I won’t say too on much on this topic. It is important to remember you want to support and bless the missionaries in their on-going work. A way to make sure that your trip is a blessing to the missionary and the community are to plan the trip based on what the missionaries actually need. Here are a few other pointers regarding trips:

1. Be intentional to connect with the missionaries: A lot of teams (especially those doing work in communities) want to focus on the kids and connecting with local people. This is great, but remember that spending intentional time to connect with the missionaries is very important, too. Connecting with the missionaries can have a long-term impact on their ministry. When you spend time to pour into the missionaries it can help strengthen them and enable them to thrive to do the long-term work on the field. You don’t need to be a pastor or counselor to support the missionaries and love them well-simply spending time to ask how they’re doing, pray for them, give safe space to share can be a big blessing. Then the ripple effect of an encouraged, supported missionary ends up impacting the whole community.

2. Always be mindful what you’re leaving behind! The missionary is the one that stays so be mindful not to leave a mess- literally or relationally. It’s best to not make promises to community members to come again or to send something. If there is a chance you are unable to keep your promise it could lead to a broken relationship can impact the ministry on the field. Also, be very mindful what you post on social media, especially after visiting a sensitive country context.

Finally, something that is true for those visiting as a team and those supporting from home:

Remember, at the end of these day missionaries are just regular people who are doing a courageous thing and answering God’s call- but they are still regular people. The desire to honor them is wonderful, but if they get put on a high pedestal it can put undue pressure to be perfect or create a space where they feel they can’t share about how they may be struggling in their faith, or what is hard about the field. Let them be a real, broken, growing through the ups and downs Jesus-follower just like yourself.


Putting the FUN in FUNDRAISING for Missions

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

 

I know, I know, the title sounds a bit pretentious. (It may even feel like the equivalence of putting the…) But really, if you have ever attempted to raise funds for missions, it can seem like anything but fun. After all, you are usually asking people to give from a place of non-budgeted finances that they may or may not have, and that can feel super uncomfortable.

Fresh out of college, I started working full-time for an NGO where I was required to raise funds for my income. Initially, because I didn’t know how on earth to ask people to give me money, regardless of how good the work was for our community, I was terrified. I almost felt as if I was asking people to sign up for a shady pyramid-scheme (For the record, I was not working for a pyramid-scheming company). Even after 4 years of working for this NGO, I was working other part-time jobs and living full-time with my mother (No shame!) just to make ends meet. In the end, I think I was bringing in 10% of my goal. It was really sad.

Moral of the story: Don’t be like I was. Instead, take a look at what I learned and hopefully it will help you in your quest to raise the necessary funds to do the work you were called to do on the mission field, whether short or long term.

1. Adjust Your Mindset and Approach

People need to trust you and the cause or mission you are representing. It feels a lot like marketing and selling because it is. But don’t let that hold you back from realizing that is how many people can view it because they may only get a glimpse of what you are actually going to do in your mission work. However, if you can be as specific, transparent, and concise as possible in how you present the offer to the potential donor to partner with you, it will make a difference. Ask boldly and confidently with the mindset that people like to give to good causes and to people they trust. Generally speaking, it is often a positive and even fun feeling that people have when they give!

2. Be Creative

Use your God-given skills and talents to have fundraising events. Offer a service or goods that people often gravitate towards that could help serve others while they give. People love to be entertained and they love food, so the more of these things that are involved, the more fun people will have in the process. Taking it a step further, find ways to include other organizations or businesses in the community to help with the event, as it may grow your platform and network of those that could be potential donors and partners. Usually, these types of events are more for those raising for a one-time, short-term mission trip, but there is no rule saying that we cannot use these same creative approaches in the long-term game too!

3. Update the Donors 

Once you have begun to grow your donor base, or even a list of those who want to be informed but are not giving (yet!), it is essential to update them with what good has been going on with your mission work. If you are doing short-term, this usually happens when you return home, but for those living in the field for the majority of the year, this should come at least every 2 to 3 months. This will give people a deeper glimpse into the work you said you would be doing as well as reaffirm what has been done because of their support. You have to work at your relationship with them to make them as much of the mission work process like you initially asked them to be. And in doing so, this is often a fun way for people to connect with a bigger work in the world, even if they are not there themselves.

Friend, if it still seems daunting to fundraise for yourself, in the end, if you are called to it, God is already in it! You can trust that He will provide in a variety of ways as you anticipated and also as you least expected. Put your best foot forward and pray before and after every conversation and effort that God would work in the hearts of people to give so that you can freely travel, live, and give to those in the field itself.


And Lord-willing, in the end, you will not just be putting the fun in fundraising, but also the funds.

Faith With the Flow

Photo by  Hunter Bryant  on  Unsplash
 

So you have a mission, do you? Destination chosen? Check. Fundraising goal met (enough)? Check. Bags packed? Check. Initial itinerary ready? Check. Faith activated? Eh…still working on that one…

The Scriptures say, “For without faith, it is impossible to please God.” And what is faith but the evidence of what we cannot see and the reality of what we are hoping for? This isn’t a matter of hoping that things will work out, but actually that God is in control and He is the one guiding us, equipping us, and carrying us to do the mission we have been called to do. There are different periods of time when our faith is checked to see if we are still fully relying on God and not in our own plans or in the circumstances around us. Here are a few:

Faith When You Go

Any time one prepares to leave for the mission field, there are a number of questions that we  that require faith in the Father to answer them. Am I going because He’s calling me or for my own reasons alone? Am I going to make a difference when I get there? Will there be a community that will accept me and help me to grow and serve well? How long will I be there? Regardless of whether we have the answers yet or not, our faith in God is what gives us the true strength we need to have our best start. We probably already have enough faith stories in the preparation to remind us that God is orchestrating it all, and is probably in the face of some kind of push back. I believe these are reminders to us that God can see ahead and is making the way straight, so our faith in Him is right where it needs to be as we head to our mission field.

Faith in the Slow

Sometimes as things get adjusted and somewhat grounded some time after we arrive, there can be a season of slow-moving, which may leave us questioning what we’re doing wrong. Things take time to be established (relationships with natives, relationships with our team or networking partners, strategic planning, a need for financial resources, etc.) and there will always be times that feel at a standstill. I believe these times can be good for us to take inventory of everything that matters most. Is the mission still maintaining its integrity? Are the field workers keeping a team mentality? Use the time to do a survey of your mental, physical, and spiritual health and keep in mind that God is still working and moving beyond what we can see or sense. And sometimes, the slow road is the only way to get to where we are going.

Faith in the Low

Because missions work happens in reality and the reality of life is that it can carry a load of frustration, pain, or even loss, it’s important for us to keep our faith firmly rooted in God, who does not waver. It can feel lonely and often leaves us feeling like nobody can understand what we are going through. Sometimes, we are even led to feel we are beyond our breaking point. In some cases, that may actually be true and having faith in God that He is still present and cares for your healthy state is essential. Getting the necessary help we need to find safe space to recover and heal (or possibly transition somewhere else) is not a failure in God’s eyes. Give yourself grace either way and remember that He is much bigger than any circumstance and mission, and that we can have faith in Him to show us which way to go next, even if it is just one step at a time.

Faith When You Sow

When we have invested so much of our lives to a people and a place, there is a sense of belonging that we have because we are so connected. It has become a part of who we are and it’s a beautiful thing. However, whenever God is showing us the way to go elsewhere and for whatever reason, it’s important to remember these things found in His word. Some plant, some water, but God brings the INCREASE. Missions work has happened long before us and will continue well after us. It will thrive because of God’s work through us, but also because there is an unstoppable force to the gospel, so we can have faith that whatever is sown by us, that it will be reaped as part of God’s plan to grow His Kingdom, regardless if we ever see the fruit or not.

So whether, you are about to go, you are in a slow-time, you are feeling low, or transitioning elsewhere, our faith that God is faithful is paramount to our steady pace in the mission field. And no, it’s not easy, so don’t feel like you are missing something if you find yourself struggling. But more importantly, don’t feel like God has given up on you in the midst of the struggle either, because we need to have faith in the flow of all stages of life and ministry, because this is the reality of life. And please remember in the process, “He who has started a good work in you will bring it unto completion…


2019 Church Planting Boot Camp

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Footstool partnered with Torch Trinity Graduate University to provide 20 Torch Trinity students and 8 local lay leaders and pastors with a Church Planting Boot Camp. The Boot Camp was a 7-day course from June 17-21, introducing the different stages of church planting and some of the major start-up issues the planter may face in the first year of starting a new church. The class was for people interested in church planting, church planters looking for more insight, pastors ready to plant a church, or seminary students generally interested and looking for more information to one day plant a church.

With the support from international churches in Korea, Footstool was able to bring Dr. Ray Chang all the way from Southern California to South Korea to teach the class. Dr. Ray Chang has an extensive academic history from Biola University, Talbot, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Trinity Divinity Evangelical School along with many years of ministry experience in second generation Korean American and multi-ethnic ministries. He has taught many Church Planting classes, helping to guide several pastors and lay leaders to plant a new churches in their communities. Throughout the class, he invited local pastors to speak and share their own experiences church planting in Korea

It was an extensive class that introduced, inspired, and equipped students to make their own path. It also provided students coaching on how to plan, strategize, and launch a new church. Everyone who attended the class left feeling completely empowered to cast their vision and one day plant a church to further God’s Kingdom.

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Maintaining Relationships Thousands of Miles Away

Photo by  Josh Hild  on  Unsplash

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

 

“You weren’t here,” or “It doesn’t matter because you won’t be here anyway.” Hearing comments like these when visiting home, trying to catch up with family and friends can be really stressful even if they weren’t saying it with any ill-intent. Being away from home, you’re bound to miss out on a lot of things. As someone who was always in-the-know (or at least tried to be) about family things or friend’s lives, having my curiosity and eagerness to know what’s been going on brushed off, it made me feel like an outsider or complete stranger. Although it wasn’t their intentions, I ended up feeling guilty for being away on the mission field, away from my family and friends.


Why did I come back? Should I not go back?

Is this really God’s plan for me? What went wrong?


I didn’t expect distance would have mattered to the closest relationships (family, best-friends) - I was always thinking of them, and I had hoped, they of me even if we didn’t communicate with each other as much as before. With the time difference and everyone’s busy schedule, it’s inevitable that we wouldn’t be able to communicate with or see each other as much as we had before when I lived on a college campus with them or at home with my family. But perhaps because the relationships are so close, they need that much more love and care, to get the assurance that it matters.

To have healthy and strong relationships, communication is key. I realized that before I left for the field, standards and expectations should have been established as far as communication. As much as I wish, I don’t have the superpower to read people’s minds so I shouldn’t expect others to have it either. Even if I am always thinking of them, it still needs to be communicated to them one way or another, but it also goes both ways. It was the first time my family and close friends were separated from me for such a long period of time, miles away, so both sides didn’t realize how much effort was needed to maintain the relationship.

Conversations and the habit of reaching out to one another (not just one side) has to be intentional and with an open heart. It should be a priority to maintain the relationships, even while out on the field as they were the ones who prayed and possibly helped send you out in the first place. It’s not easy and there has to be some vulnerability and time taken out as well, but in the long run, it is so worth because they are your support system and it will make it that much easier to transition back home in the future.


Community on the Mission Field

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Once again, it’s that time of year that many of us in overseas missions work experience a lot of transition. Some are getting ready to go to the field, some are getting ready to leave the field and some of us are continuing to stay. But even for those who are staying on the field, the transition truly never stops. On the mission field there are the expected transitions to and from the field, but what is often more unexpected is the yearly transition of community that many of us missionaries and expats experience. Everyone is experiencing hellos and goodbyes in their lives, but for many of us in overseas service, it is a yearly event. Well-loved friends and team members leave and we prepare to welcome new faces to our community. Those who stay need to say goodbye with full hearts and then open our hearts to the newcomers. And we do it again and again and again. We live a life of perpetual hellos and goodbyes. 

There is something quite special about our community on the field. Recently a group of expat friends and I were discussing what made our friendships and community in Korea so special and rich. We agreed that one year of friendship had the depth of three years and that it was likely because as foreigners we were all in a vulnerable spot together, that our neediness was more on the surface. It was harder to hide, harder to pretend we were completely independent and had it all together because as foreigners we so clearly did need help and support. Also, due to the regular turnover of people in our greater community, when we did make a close relationship we were able to value it for the treasure it was.

Because the field can be a lonely place. The many goodbyes can make it hard to have a stable, intimate community group. We are often too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed to do the hard work of trying to connect with others. And sometimes it seems like there is just no one we can really ‘click’ with. Sometimes with the tiredness and the inevitable goodbyes and all the effort it takes it can seem better to just keep to ourselves and do our thing. To not keep trying for this fabled community and to just be independent operators.

However, the truth stands that we need community and we need to keep our hearts open. It’s very easy to want to protect our vulnerable hearts from the pain that goodbyes bring and to stop opening up. It is easy to make the conscious or unconscious choice to just be that independent operator. Perhaps it’s even easier to choose being an independent operator if you come from a more individualistic culture, such as the United States.

 

For those of us who do live in a context of perpetual hellos and goodbyes, there is a distinct challenge to having godly community. However, the family of God is not just a concept- it is a reality to be lived out. Our God is relational in His Trinitarian nature and we were created as relational beings. This doesn’t mean we can just instantly choose to have a meaningful, trusting community, particularly in a very transitory context. In fact, there do seem to be distinct seasons that are lonelier than others and this is a part of life and a sacrifice that is made to do the work we do.

While it is rarely easy, particularly in our context, it is so important to stay open to new relationships and work for that trusted community. Community is the space where we represent God’s love to each other and bring a little of the divine into daily life. It takes risk, it takes effort and its hard work. Sometimes it forms easily and effortlessly and sometimes it requires a lot of intentionality. It can be formal or informal and can be practiced in so many ways from an accountability group to a workout group to just starting to open your home to others.

In community, all our needs aren’t fulfilled but in the space of community we can encourage each other, love each other and bond together as imperfect people who are committed to bring the Kingdom of God in ways big and small to their relationships and the world.

Short-term Pilgrimage

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As we approach a season of short-term summer mission trips, it’s always good to know where you are headed, have all of your funds raised, and create an itinerary of activities that will make this the most epic trip yet. But at their core, mission trips are truly modeled after pilgrimages.

A pilgrimage is an expedition to meet God in a faraway place, where people hope to return a different person from the one who left.

With this in mind, it is vital that we focus on the fact that God is not only with us, but also in the places we are going, and amongst the people we are going to. In order to allow this all-important fact to drive our motives and actions, here are a handful of aids to make our pilgrimage, by definition, most effective.

  1. Educate yourself about the culture. Whether it be a trip outside or even within your country, it is a good idea to be aware of how people think and do things differently than where you are from. Learning more about who you are going to will also help you connect more with the people and give you a better perspective to what the struggles and mindsets are that you are working with. Even better than this, it allows you to see how God is already doing great things and what it means to celebrate those moments.

  2. Do things “with” and not “for” others. There is a term that gets used to describe people that believe they have all the means necessary to “save” others, called the “Messiah Complex”. While it’s noble to want to help other people and meet their needs, we are not capable of being God, so it’s necessary that we temper our expectations there first. Secondly, to be unified with the long-term missionaries means that we are coming alongside them as a teammate and not coming in to fix what isn’t broke and push our own agenda.

  3. Clothe yourself in humility. Wherever you are going, you are on someone else’s turf. That means you are stepping inside of their everyday environment and whether you are staying in their home or not, you are still a guest in their community. A humble attitude to remember the privilege of the place and people you are with can help you see God’s presence there. As a matter of fact, most people who travel in humility are often the ones that say they are more blessed by the people there at the end of the trip.

  4. Be sensitive to other’s privacy. As we step into another person’s life, possibly uninvited, it is also crucial to be aware of how we are coming across. Many people desire for human relational connection, but just because we are present, it does not entitle us to relationship with people. All we can do is offer our sincere words and actions, and if they are received, then we can build from there. This also means that taking pictures or videos of people should never happen until there is consent from the organization you are with and most importantly, the people.

  5. Remember you are not on vacation. This goes without saying, but short-term pilgrimages are not times for us to travel with our friends and family to indulge in loose-minded behavior and self-serving expectations. If we take this approach in any way, it is easy to lose focus of the purposes you went in the first place. In addition, the chance for us returning home with positive, God-initiated changes within us, will be significantly hindered. This does not imply that we aren’t supposed to have fun and enjoy ourselves with the things that are planned, but we should do them with the focus being put on the people we are there with.

So, as you prepare to take this short-term pilgrimage to whatever place God is calling you to, whether near or far, please consider these tips to keep your mind focused, your heart humbled, and your spirit moved in the direction that God is already present. In doing so, you are setting yourself up to fulfill the calling that has sent you on such a journey to begin with.

Missionary Appreciation Luncheon 2019

 

Footstool hosted their 4th Annual Missionary Appreciation Luncheon last Monday, April 22 in Seoul, Korea. This year, 4 local churches were able to support Footstool’s mission to appreciate and honor those who serve in various forms of ministry outside the local church context.

 

There were 49 individuals from 29 different organizations and churches who attended and had the opportunity to network with one another. Through the networking, organizations were able to meet and get to know other ministries that served in similar or different sectors in Korea, meet potential partners, and also pray for and encourage each other.

 

It was a special time not only for the ministries but also Footstool, enabling us to again see in action our vision - Missions Through Unity. We had received many feedback saying that it was the best one yet! We hope to continue improving our events and programs, making sure to provide the space and opportunity for all of God’s workers to come together to eat, pray, network, and encourage each other!

 

 

Before Leaving for the Field

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Written by Carolyn Klejment-Lavin

 

Part of our work at Footstool is offering practical training courses for missions. One of the courses we offer is Long Term Missions Training, which prepares individuals who are going to serve long term on the field. The training sets a strong Biblical and theological foundation for long term missions work as well as practical tools to thrive on the mission field in all areas of wellness.

When someone is leaving for long term service on the mission field, there is always a very big checklist of to-dos. The focus usually gets put on raising adequate support, packing and moving and all.the.paperwork. However, in the hustle and bustle of the move and also the enthusiasm to actually get on the field and start to dive into the work, many often overlook the very important aspect of preparing for emotional wellness on the field.

It’s true that having your visa in order does seem more pressing when departing for the field than preparing for emotional thrival, but when we look at the top reasons that missionaries leave the field, it is rarely due to visa issues. One of the top reasons that missionaries leave the field is problems related to mental health. Thus, the importance of addressing emotional wellness before leaving the field can’t be overstated.

There are a number of areas of emotional wellness are good to address before departing, but I’ll list the categories I’ve observed to be the core areas. Consider this an emotional wellness pre-departure checklist. Hopefully instead of adding to the to-do list burden, this list can be helpful for both those departing for the mission field and those who are sending and supporting them.

 

1. Stress Management and Self Care

Studies have shown that missionaries have very high levels of stress in their lives. Areas of stress can be related to environment, lack of resources, sickness, trauma, culture, spiritual warfare, etc.. There is no getting around the fact that this tends to be high stress work! The long term impact of high levels of stress can’t be overstated- there are a myriad of symptoms related to chronic stress, but what is particularly important to note is that as time goes on our brain actually rewires itself to respond to continued stress. And this isn’t a good thing- it means we become emotionally agitated, have memory problems, trouble thinking clearly and our default emotional responses become worry, anger, discouragement and depression.

An important part of preparing for the field is to be able to learn to name the source of your stress, recognize your personal signs and symptoms or stress and learn to take the necessary steps to manage these stressors in a healthy way.

Self-care is also critical aspect to managing stress and protecting against burnout. It is important to “put on your own oxygen mask first” before you serve others. Before missionaries leave for the field, in our Long Term Training we usually try and create a self care plan which primarily focuses on daily, affordable, realistic activities to “keep your bucket full.” Some questions included in the brainstorming process are: What has helped you feel refreshed and renewed in the past? Are there things you used to enjoy doing that you’ve let slip away? What brings you pleasure and joy?

 

 

2. Sabbath Rest

It’s important to consider our theology of work and the necessity of Sabbath rest before leaving for the field. Most of us need to think about the importance of ceasing work and embracing rest and any issues we may have related to that. Work and rest are not opposing forces, but should work together in a rhythm to make true rest and good work possible. It’s important to remember Sabbath rest is Biblical, a form of worship, it fuels our work and is a way to practice faith in God’s sovereignty by embracing our fragility and the fact life is not completely in our control.

 

 

3. Good Goodbyes

One of the greatest takeaways from my pre-field training before departing for long term service was the concept of ‘good goodbyes.’ Essentially what saying good goodbyes means is that we have a desire to bless one another in the process of saying goodbye and to celebrate what we have come to mean to each other. Although a quick “see you later” can feel much easier than the vulnerability of telling someone how much they’ve meant to us and how much we will miss them, vulnerability goes hand in hand with wholehearted love for those we will leave. Saying goodbye well is also part of the gift we are giving to those we are saying hello to as it prepares us to risk offering the gifts of our hearts anew.

 

There is much more that could be said about preparing well for emotional wellness on the field, but this gives a snapshot of some of the key areas. May you head to the mission field having said good goodbyes, with ‘full buckets’ and some tools to care for yourself well as you prepare to pour yourself out for Kingdom work.

 

Resources for Further Reading:

Stress and Resilience: https://www.headington-institute.org ,Overcoming Compassion Fatigue by Martha Teater

Sabbath Rest: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan, Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen

 

Livin’ La Vida Mission

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Written by Ryan Smith

 

Wouldn’t you agree that it is easy to fall into the flow of life’s responsibilities and get distracted from living with purpose? Anytime I have prepared to step into a new season of life in Asia or back in the States in the last decade, I always envisioned just how missional I would be living but then find it a challenge to maintain the same approach after getting into the grind. Essentially, to live missionally is to embody the heart of God’s mission to make disciples of all nations that all have been given by God, wherever they go.

 

I think there is always a new energy about us when we step into a place we believe God has called us to. However, although our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak. We need daily reminders and times to realign our minds and hearts on what God has called us for. In other words, we need to work towards living with purpose, on purpose. There’s no doubt that this is closely, if not the most, connected to our time spent with God.

 

We cannot only rely on the busyness of our job responsibilities that may include vital ministry elements to guide our missional living, but it must always come from a personal and habitual interaction with the Living God. Scripture reading, prayer, and conversations about Kingdom work are essential in building a ministry, but we need to actually take a step back and think about why and to what God has called us as individuals to in the first place. After all, He cares about the health of our heart before He cares about what our hands and feet are doing.

 

Many people think that being a “missionary” is only for those who move to another country, and therefore are not truly held responsible for the missional life. Whether living in the U.S. or abroad, I have always been challenged the same to consider the people that are within the circles of relationships in my life and evaluate how well I am showing them God’s love. From the middle school student I see every Sunday morning to the guy on my basketball team or from the field worker on the other side of an email to the man that also brings his child to the playground in our neighborhood, I am being sent as a representative of light on behalf of the good news.



If you’ll make the time to generate space for His direction, God will show you who you are, how He’s made you, and guide you in fulfilling your purpose wherever you are. Also, although it may seem strange at first, take some time to write down the people that you come into contact with on a regular basis, from the most personal to the most casual of interactions. Finally, ask God for wisdom and boldness to lead you in these interactions as you walk in your missional life. Then, I believe you will see the steps clearer that God has laid out for you to live a truly missional life, no matter where you are.

MCR 2019

On January 30th - February 2nd, Footstool Missions Center held their 3rd Annual Member Care Retreat in Seoul, South Korea. The Member Care Retreat is a time for those serving cross culturally in Asia, giving them time to rest, reflect, and go back out onto the field with a renewed passion.

The speaker for this year’s retreat was Dave Gibbons who is the Lead Pastor of Newsong Church in Orange County, California. His experience as a speaker, advisor, and author for both ministry and business-related areas allowed him to be an effective speaker for all those who attended.

We had 100 individuals coming from 10 different countries all over Asia who were excited to see what the hype was about our retreat. Many of the individuals who come are in desperate need for the rest, refreshment, and rejuvenation the retreat hopes to provide. 53 Volunteers and Staff served to make this happen in many different areas such as hospitality, children’s ministry, youth ministry, worship, prayer, and operations. We also had professional practitioners volunteer their time and services to provide not only spiritual but physical, emotional, and medical needs such as health-checkups, haircuts, physical therapy, and pilates. All the volunteers put their heart and energy into making the retreat a success which was felt by all of the fieldworkers.

We want to give a big thank you to everyone who supported us. Whether it be physically through volunteering time, financially through donations, spiritually through prayers, or something else, we appreciate it very much. It was definitely a time to put our mission statement to action - missions through unity. Thank you and many blessings always!  

Interview: John Mehn

 
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In the past year, Footstool has expanded its network and partnerships with ministries in Japan. We sat down with John Mehn, longtime church planter and author of Multiplying Churches in Japanese Soil (2017), to learn about missions in Japan.

How long have you been in Japan and what kind of ministry have you been involved with?

Hi, I’m John Mehn and I work with Converge--formerly known as the Baptist General Conference. I have lived in Japan since 1985 and been involved in church planting, leadership development, and directing the Japanese Church Planting Institute (JCPI) for the past 20 years.

 

You recently came out with a book--can you give us a teaser about it?

The book is called, Multiplying Churches in Japanese Soil. Japan is very unreached in that it has the second largest people group in the world but there are only a few churches in the country. Basically, this book includes a lot of that information in an updated form to see what’s working in Japan and what’s not to reach the lost. Through this book, I am hoping to provide a lot of practical help for the pastors and missionaries working in Japan.

 

What are the greatest challenges for the church in Japan today?

One of the biggest challenges for the Japanese church is to become more "missional" and to have a vision for planting churches. Right now we are going through a large upheaval in the church where many of the pastors are over 70 years old and are retiring or dying and are not being replaced. Much of the focus of the church is just to survive--yet we have hundreds of communities that do not have a church. In all, we currently have 24 cities that still don’t have a church so we need to plant more to reach the 99 percent that are not believers in this country.

 

What do you envision for the next generation of church planters in Japan?

It’s hard to predict what my young colleagues will be doing in the next several years, but I think we will see a lot of innovation. Up until now, there was really only one way to plant a church. In the book, I outline six ways that are effective in not only planting churches but also in them reproducing themselves. I think we will see dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways to make the church relevant to Japanese culture and to plant it in Japanese soil. I would love to see that--it would be so cool.

 

Can you tell us a little about your story and what first drew you to Japan?

I came to Christ right after high school and was involved in student ministry. I then felt the call to missions after about a year of being a new Christian. Originally, I wanted to go on a medical mission but I felt like God was saying, “I want you to be involved in church planting.” My focus turned immediately to Asia because 60% percent of the world lives in Asia. When we came back from an internship in the Philippines, my wife and I heard from God that He wanted us to serve in Japan. That was in 1981 and we have followed that as best as we could since.

 

How can the global church be praying for Japan?

There is a whole section in my book about praying for spiritual breakthrough in Japan. We have seen other countries open up because of the prayer.  In 1970, there were very few Christians and now there are more and more Muslims coming to Christ than any other time in the history of the church. Fifteen to twenty years ago, Mongolia had only 4 Christians, but now they have a goal to be 8% Christian in their nation. As far as Japan goes, we believe that there is spiritual oppression and spiritual warfare involved in this place and I covet anyone’s prayer for the nation of Japan--that God would have mercy and open hearts.

 

What word of encouragement would you give those who have a heart to serve in Japan?

You are coming to a place where you are really needed. JCPI has a lot of help here for you. We have a conference you can come to every two years, plus a lot of other training that we do throughout the year. I would really encourage you to lock arms with others and their networks to be able to be more effective for ministry. There are a lot of resources out there that a lot of people are unaware of. There are a lot of very encouraging stories about the church that many people are not hearing as we often only hear the bad stories. There are a lot of good stories out there and you should be encouraged.

 
 

Member Care Retreat 2018

 

This past winter, Footstool hosted our second annual Member Care Retreat. We were able to serve a total of 42 missionary units consisting of families and singles. For four days and three nights, 97 individuals serving in four different countries in East Asia gathered together for a time of physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation. 

 

 

The retreat schedule consisted of worship and main sessions in the mornings. Attendees were given free time in the afternoon to spend with their families and friends, hold meetings that might be difficult to have on their mission field, participate in optional planned activities such as hiking and board games, and/or rest. Professional practitioners volunteered their time and services to provide massage therapy, medical consultation, counseling, pastoral prayer, haircuts, manicures, art therapy, music therapy, and family portraits.

 

We would not have been able to do all this without the generous donations of our donors and the help of our amazing volunteers. Our team of 42 volunteers helped in various ministries--hospitality, children's ministry, youth ministry, and worship team-- to make this retreat a success. The feedback from this year's attendees was overwhelmingly positive and full of gratitude. There is a clear need for member care in the mission field! We at Footstool are overjoyed to be providing this much-needed time of refreshment and encouragement to the missionaries who attend.

 

 

If you know someone serving in long-term missions in Asia who could benefit from this retreat, please feel free to contact us: admin@footstool.org.

Missionary Appreciation Luncheon 2018

 

The 3rd annual Missionary Appreciation Luncheon was hosted by Footstool to honor ministers, missionaries, and lay people that have committed their time to serve in Seoul, South Korea.

The event was a great opportunity for all 54 attendees to connect, network, and build relationships that can lead to greater Kingdom work and unity in the body of Christ.

Partner Highlight: Hesed Home (Karen Lim)

Karen Lim has been working in orphanage ministry for nearly a decade since she first moved out to South Korea. In 2017, Karin started Hesed Home, a ministry housed in her own home that provides a safe space for orphaned kids to hang out, enjoy home-cooked meals, and celebrate special occasions together. Read on to find out how she began ministering to orphans in Seoul...

 

What brought you to Korea?

I was born in Korea but at the age of 2½ my brother and I were adopted to the States. I went through this art therapy program, which had a very profound personal impact, that brought a lot of healing from my past and early trauma. I had a dream that I wanted to come back to my orphanage...that I used to live in before I was adopted. I always had a curiosity about Korean culture and my roots, so in 2007 I decided to come out here.

 

How would you describe your time in full-time ministry?

There have definitely been some ups and downs, some challenges... but I feel it’s definitely brought me closer to Christ. It’s taught me to be more dependent on Him and I really have to seek daily what He wants me to do and be more connected to Him.

 

What do you envision for the kids that you work with?

I was adopted to an American family in the States, and I experienced the comfort and security of a home. I feel like the kids get support in the orphanage while they grow up, but once they graduate high school, there is very little support for them. I really hope this home can provide a safe place for them to know that they always have somewhere to come back to, celebrate holidays, have a place to hang out, and have dinner. I want this home to be a place where they can always come back to if they are in trouble or in a bind so that they know they always have a home.

 

What is the meaning of the name of the ministry?

Hesed Home has a very significant and personal meaning. When I was brought back to God I could just really feel His love. Hesed love is that unfailing covenant steadfast love of the Lord. And I really pray that these kids can really taste and experience a love that is deeper than anything that they know or anything that they have experienced. That they really can feel and know their Father's love.

 

How would you define 'mission' and how can people be involved?

I have heard it said that [mission is] finding out what is on God's heart and joining what He is doing. If I were to take that a step further, I would describe it as finding those areas and places that we are gifted and using those things that God has given us to help a group of people or person that could just benefit from something that you have. When I am painting, cooking, or doing something really creative, I feel God’s heart and I have found that now I can use it to really be able to spend time with these kids and build relationship with them. Sharing life with them just doing what I love and in that showing love to them and just spending time together.

 

What is the 'orphan spirit'?

I feel like it’s for any of us that don’t feel our Father's love and don’t know our true identity in Christ. I think for me and for true orphans that didn’t have parents to speak those affirmations and identities to us, we grow up with fear of rejection, abandonment, lack of trust; we can’t trust people and it's hard to build relationships. Not being able to receive love is very difficult. I know that I went through it myself.

 

Are there any stories of transformation that you have experienced with the kids?

I really sense the orphan spirit at the orphanage where I volunteer, there was one girl in particular who was very withdrawn. She never really smiled and never really acknowledged me. Over time as I kept going there, I would show her extra attention. I would always make a point to say, "Hi!" to her, smile, and show her extra love. It took years, but over time I could sense that she would come out sometimes to see what I was doing. One summer in particular, as I was going to go back to the States for a couple of weeks, I said, "Bye" and, "See you next time!"--she would never respond--but this particular time I got a reaction from her. I got a response, and she said “See you next time,” and waved. I felt like that was a real breakthrough with her, that she would even acknowledge me and talk to me. I felt that I really reached that level of trust with her, that she really believed that she would see me next time.

 

Do you have any prayer requests?

I would like to ask for prayer that the kids would really be covered in their Father's love. That they don’t believe the lies that they are not loved, that they really know their place in the Kingdom. Jesus says that the least of these are the greatest in the Kingdom, and I pray that these kids know that and that they have a place in God’s heart. Even if they experience discrimination and stigmas in this life, that they know their true place and their identity in God’s home. I just really pray that this home is a taste for them of their mansion waiting for them in heaven, that they really know that they are the most special in God's heart and most valuable.

 

Where would you direct anyone to get involved here in Korea?

You can find my project page on the Footstool website and I can post my email and other contact info on there as well.

CHANGE TOGETHER: 7 PRACTICES OF A LIFESTYLE MISSIONARY

Matt Whitlock is a speaker, writer, and founding director of The Tribe, a global network of Lifestyle Missionaries working for the common good of their cities. Footstool had a chance to sit down with Matt and chat about his recently published book.

 

How do you define a lifestyle missionary?

A  lifestyle missionary is someone that doesn’t have to change their physical location but they’re changing the posture of their heart toward the area that God already has them living in. Everyone should be on mission with Jesus—I think it’s more of a heart attitude than a geographic thing.

 

What was your inspiration for the book?

I spent a number of years with Youth With A Mission, (YWAM) a traditional missions organization. I had the privilege of traveling with the founder of that organization, Loren Cunningham, doing tours through Korea, New Zealand, Europe, and different places in the US...

 

I would get chances to share the stage with him and at the end of it he would do an altar call for traditional missionaries. I would be a part of that and people would come up and usually, if we were really lucky, we would get maybe 10% of the congregation. After a while of doing that I started thinking about the 90% that was sitting there. They have non-Christian friends. They are in their workplaces with non-believers. They don’t have any visa issues. They don’t have financial issues because they don’t have to raise money. They’re paid to be there. In some ways they’re kind of positioned to be better missionaries than some of the traditional missionaries were.

 

[That got me] thinking about this idea of missions as not just a career for some but a lifestyle for many. So then I started thinking of the ways that we have lived for so many years as traditional missionaries, and how we can translate the language for people to be lifestyle missionaries where they are. That was kind of the beginning of the lifestyle missionary message. In fact, I believe the first time I even spoke on the idea of the lifestyle missionary was at a YWAM location. I got up and spoke and then I just felt prompted to do an altar call like I would do with Loren for traditional missionaries but did an alter call for lifestyle missionaries and the entire audience came to the front of the stage. That is when I realized that this is something that is in people’s hearts right now, and we have to get this message out.

 

How do you involve your family in the ministry?

I try to do as much as I can with my family in everything that I do. If I’m going to the beach, I’ll bring my kids. If we try to be regulars at a restaurant, we bring the kids. If we do any kind of events in the community, like serving the homeless dinner, we bring our kids. It opens doors for doing work and I think it’s also shaping their worldview right now. They are realizing that if my parents can be on mission I can be on mission as well. I think they are getting to see that firsthand. And now, my daughter, who is 7, if she sees someone on the side of the road, she either asks, “Can I pray for them?” or “Can we give them something?” They can only learn that by seeing how we are living. I think it’s vital that we do those things as families and don’t separate that as 'This is my ministry thing,' and 'This is my home life.'

 

You used the phrase “as you are already going” in your book. What do you mean by that?

[In Matthew 28:19] when we read “go make disciples” in English it implies that you are sitting down, you need to get up and go. But in the Greek, it implies that you are already moving, already going. My heart with this book is that people would not read it and say, “Now I need to get up and go.” My heart with this book and the ministry is to help people realize that they are already going but they are not seeing that they are already going.

 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about already being in the place that God has put you, so you are already in the place that you are supposed to be. Jesus says you are already going, but the problem is we don’t realize it. The heart of the book is saying that missions isn’t a supplement to your life or a weekend event or a summer thing that you just chose to go to, but that your faith already puts you in a place of being on mission and you’re either aware of it or you’re not. When you read this book my heart is not that you feel like there is another thing you need to do. It’s more like “Okay, I’m already praying, but this is how I should be praying, since I am already in missions. I already read my Bible, and this is what I’m supposed to do with what I’m reading, since I am already in missions. I already have community with my friends, but this is what we could be doing with our community, since I am already in missions.”  The idea is that you are already in it, you are already in the midst of it. Now what are you doing with it?

 

What is the message you want people to take away from the book?

Around the world, it feels like we are consumed with this “find my purpose” quest right now. I think we are consumed with it because people feel like God is not answering, but he’s already answered. And the answer is: You are already in it. Jesus is already on a mission around you and He’s calling you to join that mission!

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Church Planting Boot Camp 2017

On June 26-30, 2017, Footstool hosted for the second time the Church Planting Boot Camp taught by Dr. Ray Chang from the Regenerant Network. The boot camp was held at Torch Trinity Graduate University (Seoul, South Korea) and was offered as an intensive summer modular course for Torch students. It was also open to non-Torch practitioners (i.e. current or potential church planters), and offered for the first time as a bilingual course with Korean translation. In total, over 40 people attended the week long training.

Participants of the boot camp were equipped with effective strategies for launching a church planting team and cultivating healthy, propagating churches. Throughout the week, Dr. Chang invited previous participants of the boot camp to come and share their church planting experiences with the class. These church planters were able to discuss what worked well for them, as well as the difficulties and failures they faced.

According to a class survey, 11 participants are either currently involved in church planting or committed to church planting in the future. Footstool is excited to be a part of starting a church planting movement in Korea and beyond.

"The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting." 

-Tim Keller

2017 Basic Missions Training

Written by Joy Choi

 

Footstool wrapped up a month of Basic Missions Training (BMT) at Jubilee Church for those going on short-term mission trips this summer. 

During our four-week training course, a group of 20 missions-minded individuals gathered with Footstool instructors Ryan and Joy to learn and discuss God's heart for missions to all nations. Participants from this training will be sent out on short-term trips to Indonesia, Cambodia, EUC (English Unification Camp), and Mozambique in the coming months.

On July 24th and July 1st, Ryan and Joy will provide an abridged version of the training course to the youth of Seoul Bible Baptist Church, who will go on short-term missions to the Philippines in July.

 

Every summer, Footstool offers the four-week BMT course in preparation for short-term mission trips. Our four sessions of BMT cover the following topics: 

  1. Biblical Basis for Missions
  2. Cross-Cultural Missions and Contextualization 
  3. Spiritual Realities 
  4. Unity

If your church or ministry is interested in Basic Missions Training, feel free to reach out to admin@footstool.org. We would love to partner with you!

Member Care Retreat Follow up

On January 19-22, Footstool Missions Center held its first ever Member Care Retreat. We hosted a total of 78 individuals (adults and children) who are serving throughout Asia. This retreat was the culmination of years of planning, dreaming, and praying on the parts of many individuals and organizations.  

We have seen that missionaries rarely take vacations. During the few times they do take a break from "the field" to go home on furlough, they usually end up working anyway. They spend their time speaking at churches, meeting with current and potential supporters, and sharing what God is doing through them in their ministries. 

For most of the missionaries we served, this retreat was their first vacation in a long time. Their feedback on the retreat has been overwhelmingly positive and filled with thanksgiving. The retreat was, quite literally, an answer to many of the missionaries’ prayers. Not only were the missionaries able to rest and be cared for, but in the process they were encouraged and refreshed to go back and continue the work in the under-reached places they serve. This is the very vision Footstool was founded on: to be a basecamp for missions to the 10/40 Window-- in other words, a place for field workers to rest and get refreshed to continue their work.

Most member care retreats cost up to $500 to $1,000 per person, which does not include spouses or children. With the help of some generous churches, organizations, and individuals, Footstool was able to cover the expenses for this retreat. All the missionaries were able to participate in our retreat free of charge; all they had to do was book a flight to Seoul, and Footstool took care of the rest.

We would not have been able to run the retreat without the help of our volunteers. We had about 30 different people volunteer their time, resources, gifts and abilities to help us make this retreat possible. Thank you to all the volunteers who served, we appreciate you very much! 

 

 

WE HAD A SHORT Q&A SESSION WITH A FEW OF THE MISSIONARIES ABOUT THEIR TIME SERVING IN MINISTRY, AND HERE IS WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY:

* Answers are posted anonymously to ensure the safety and privacy of the missionaries. 



 

MISSIONARY A

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SERVING IN THE FIELD? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A BREAK?

2.5 years this term.  (2.5 years before that in another city, with 2 years in the States between the two.) Last break:  Last vacation was June 2016.  Our mission organization in Japan had a country-wide retreat at the end of December as well.  Not sure that is actually a break, though.

 

WHAT DOES THE TERM “MEMBER CARE” MEAN TO YOU?

Caring for team members from preparing them for the field, orientation and integration into the team, to long-term care for their social, professional, spiritual lives, and also readjustment to life back home.  It also includes enabling members to care for themselves.

 

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT BEING ON THE FIELD?

That life overseas is, in many ways, not that different from life in the States.  One must do laundry, pay bills, etc. here as well.  And being intentional about evangelistic living is not easier overseas;  if one doesn't share their faith at home, they likely won't overseas either.

 

 

MISSIONARY B

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SERVING IN THE FIELD? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A BREAK?

2 years. Last break was January 2016 for ten days.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ENTERING THE FIELD ABOUT SELF CARE?

You don't know you need it until you get it. You need to be aware of what's below the surface while on the field so it does not blow up when you are relaxing or decompressing. Deal with it gradually as it arises. Make daily or weekly time to deal with emotional and spiritual issues. Get a mentor!

 

 

MISSIONARY C

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SERVING IN THE FIELD? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A BREAK?

7 years. Last visit home was 3 years ago.

 

HOW CAN WE AS A CHURCH BETTER SUPPORT FIELD WORKERS LIKE YOU?

The best way to support field workers is to break down the barrier between missionaries and non-missionaries. All believers are field workers in every vocational calling. If the church really believed that and taught that, then every field worker would be supported. We don't need to lift up missionaries more, we need to lift up all vocations to the same level so all work becomes holy.

 

 

MISSIONARY D

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SERVING IN THE FIELD? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A BREAK?  

We've been out for about 3.5 years.  We got to go home for my brother's wedding for 2 weeks last summer, though it was pretty busy since I was the best man.  Other than that, this was the first time we've had a break since we've been out.

 

WHAT DOES THE TERM “MEMBER CARE” MEAN TO YOU?  

Member care to us is the consistent caring for the needs of workers abroad - listening patiently, learning what they experience and what they go through, understanding their needs and desires, lifting them up, knowing them well enough to ask good questions to help guide them in making decisions (helping them to have good eyes to be able to see themselves and their situation clearly so they can make good decisions), being close enough with them that you can be involved in their life (helping them to be authentic and open with where they are in relationships, their work, and helping them to see blind spots that will cause them problems), and providing restful and growing respites from their work in the field.

 

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU WISH PEOPLE  KNEW ABOUT BEING ON THE FIELD?  

That we are like them.  We have fears and doubts.  We have weaknesses and struggles.  We want to be known not just receive support.  And we want people to come and participate with us so they see and feel and understand themselves.

 

 

MISSIONARY E

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SERVING IN THE FIELD? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A BREAK?

I have been on the field for about 4 and half years.  The last time I took a break was about two years ago when I traveled to the states.

 

WHAT DOES THE TERM “MEMBER CARE” MEAN TO YOU?

To me, the term ‘member care’ means caring for the missionary- body, soul and spirit.  A lot of people just focus on one or two parts but not the whole person.  For example many missionaries are supported well financially but not always supported on a relational or spiritual level. I think a lot of people often have a unrealistic view of missionaries and think that they are super spiritual people who “have it all together” when actually we are real people who have the same struggles that any Christian would have.  Having regular accountability and pastoral care is important and very much needed as well as prayer and financial support.  

 

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT BEING ON THE FIELD?

I think I would like people to know that it’s really difficult sometimes and although we take joy in our work, we also struggle a lot with the demand and pressures we face. The spiritual warfare is real and at times very intense and having prayerful covering is absolutely vital to our sustainability.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ENTERING THE FIELD ABOUT SELF CARE?

I think I would tell them that missions is personal, you can’t separate yourself and your personal life from your labor because who you are comes out in what you do. Being intentional about spending regular times with God is essential, not letting the work overtake your relationship with God. That should always come first. It’s from the place of our connection with God that the ministry should flow out of. I would also stress the importance of community whether it’s on the field or back home.  Be in community and find people who challenge you and encourage you.

 

HOW CAN WE AS THE BODY BETTER SUPPORT FIELD WORKERS?

I think first it’s important to really believe in the vision of missions. If you don’t really value missions you won’t value missionaries. Once we have a heart for missions and see the value and necessity of it we can seek to support the missionary.  For me when I come back to my home country I often become disappointed when people just don’t ask me how I’m doing or what it’s like etc. When I meet people who are genuinely interested and care about the work and care about me it means so much. These are the people who are usually our biggest supporters and who have trekked with us for the long term. When someone just drops me a couple of lines in an email saying they are praying for me or asking me how things are going- it really means a lot!  It makes me feel like I’m not forgotten. I also think rest is a big one.  A lot of missionaries I know struggle with the workload and often burn out. Helping missionaries to get the rest and refreshment they need is huge and helps sustain missionaries long term.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THE RETREAT?

I felt honored. It think that was really big for me. This retreat made me realize that there are people who really love and care for missionaries and who are acknowledging what we do.