November 08, 2021
Each paragraph below describes the variety and depth of resources we have been providing to cultivate health with global servants within our mission agency over the last several months.
Growing Edges meets the last Tuesday of every month: Growing Edges is an opportunity for Global Servants to gather once a month for community and conversation as we discern together how God is growing us during unprecedented change. Topics over the last 6 months have included the Spiritual practice of attentive listening (with God, with others, with ourselves), Community & the body of Christ juxtaposed against the isolation during the pandemic, Leadership & resilience, Discernment during risk assessment, Imaginative gridlock, and Becoming a servant-leader in a cross-cultural context.
Walking with Global Servants in First Term: Ministering and walking with global servants during their first term is a critical piece of our work. This is when one's identity in a new culture is shaped. Self-awareness is key to adapting and thriving. This year we have worked closely with colleagues in South Africa, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
Countries in Crisis: We continue to provide on-going emotional and spiritual support to global servants who serve in Haiti, Bolivia, and Lebanon due to the political and economic instabilities of these countries.
Candlelight Memorial Service: October 1, Joyce helped facilitate a memorial service for staff and global servants to honor the memory of all the loved ones we lost during 2020-2021. Twenty-five persons attended. It was a time for community to lament together, and to express hope together.
Hear the Call Retreat: Every year, IM hosts a retreat that is designed to help people explore a call to missions. Several years ago, we were asked to provide the spiritual formation pieces of this retreat. This conference was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, IM decided to hold it virtually. The planning team met for six months deliberating how to take a Friday evening to Sunday afternoon in-person retreat and re-design it for a 2-day, 6-hour virtual event. It was a challenge! It really forced us to evaluate what we needed to keep and what we needed to let go. The event happened October 8-9. Eleven people attended. And, it was an amazing success! It reaffirmed that God does indeed show up in virtual community. The opportunity to meet, guide, and listen to persons at the beginning of their missionary call is a humbling, sacred space.
Theological Reflection: In late October, Joyce launched a 3-week seminar with Dr. Elmo Familiaran on the topic of "Understanding Conflict in a Cross-Cultural Context." Dr. Familiaran says: "Conflicts always arise in the context of human relationships that exist within a culture. Culture is deeply imbedded in conflict because culture shapes, frames, and forms the ways we respond to conflict. This seminar/workshop will explore the complex nature of conflict, its perils and promise, and the unique challenges that emerge when conflict arises cross-culturally. Through personal testimonies, peer learning, social, cultural, and psychological analyses, and then insights from scripture, we will attempt to identify constructive ways to respond and navigate through conflict." Twelve of met for conversation that was rich and informative.
Debriefings: When global servants return for their year of U.S. assignment, sometime during that year they have what is called a "debriefing" with home office staff. Debriefings are a structured process to review life and ministry events that occurred during your last term of service. It is an opportunity to share concerns, process challenges, discuss growing edges, and give feedback to the organization about where improvement needs to occur going forward. We are now invited to the personal debriefings of each global servant. During the last six months, we have had the honor to sit with 4 global servants during their debriefing.
Commissioning Services: Commissioning services for global servants now occur in their home churches. (When we were commissioned in 1999, it was included as part of the World Mission Conference in Green Lake, WI) Due to the pandemic, many of these events are now being held on-line, or as a hybrid service. The joy of the added virtual component is that many of us can now attend this momentous occasion in the lives of our new colleagues joining the IM family. We were able to attend the commissioning of Moises Joseph (Mexico) and Tim & Stacy Reese (Dominican Republic) in September. Celebrating joy with our colleagues is just as important as walking with them during sorrow.
Frequent Communication: Every week we are communicating with global servants via small groups in Zoom, one-on-one counseling through zoom, What's App, Facebook messenger, and email. In the last 2 weeks alone we were in conversation with 53 of our colleagues. We continue to be honored and humbled by the privilege of listening and holding their stories as we undergird ways to help them thrive in their ministry contexts.
Why is our role necessary? The fact that we do not serve as part of IM's home office staff, the fact that we too raise our own support, the fact that we served in Mexico for 15 years, the fact that we raised a family overseas, the fact that we know what it's like to sort through challenges with an international Baptist partner, the fact that we too have experienced isolation and cultural fatigue . . . all these factors and more are what give us credibility and authenticity in our role with other global servants. Our colleagues trust us to speak into their lives. They trust us because we don't have a supervisory role with them. They trust us because they know we have walked where they walk. God has uniquely equipped us for this mission and ministry. Again, it humbles us.
Our Own Care: This July, we had a 2-week vacation in Alaska to meet our future daughter-in-law's family. Alaska was our first ministry context after seminary, and where our son Ian was born. What a joy to reconnect with people and a place after 28 years! Ian and Anny will be married in Alaska next summer. In October, we celebrated the 86th birthday of Joyce's mom, Mary. All of Mary's grandkids and great-granddaughter attended. It was a joyous occasion!
Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support. We are grateful for you!
David & Joyce