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The Special-Blessing: Blessing a Missionary

Blessing your missionaries is one of the most important things you can do in the way of preparing them for service and encouraging those already in service. It is critical that your missionaries (and others you lead) know how much you admire their calling and appreciate their gifts. The Apostal Paul understood the value of the special-blessing and used it often to encourage and provide guidance to those he served through leadership. There are many examples of the special-blessing being administered to children, leadership, nations, and servants in the Bible, but this article will focus on missionaries (and other Great Commission workers).
Special-Blessing Defined
The special-blessing is based on the work of John Trent. Trent refers to the blessing he writes about as the blessing, but we have reassigned the term in our counseling ministry as the special-blessing, since it is almost always taught as an intentional tool focused on a particular gift and expected outcome. It is a tool that can be used to encourage and edify children, couples, students, athletes, pastors, business partners, employees, and missionaries. It includes all of the following:
Components of a Special-Blessing
-Touch (when appropriate)
A hand on the shoulder (like when praying), the holding of one hand (like a handshake) or holding two hands (with your spouse or child), or followed by an embrace (spouse or close family member/friend)
-Loving Intent
Always honestly intended to lift up the recipient (never for manipulation)
-Acknowledgment of Value
Acknowledges a gift or specific ability in a focused area (not general in nature)
-Acknowledgment of Future
Expresses an expected or anticipated outcome or potential.
-Pledge of Support
Expresses your desire to continue to be a part of the individual’s development (like that of a discipleship relationship, parent, teacher, spouse, employee)
Biblical Example
The Apostle Paul was a missionary, and later (from captivity) a supporter, mentor, and leader of missionaries. The special-blessings he administered to those he served, provides us a pattern we can follow to do the same for our missionaries and staff. The following is a great example of a focused blessing intended to encourage, edify, and acknowledge potential:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:3-12)

Components of Paul’s Blessing that Edified or Encouraged Timothy

Paul begins his blessing of Timothy by telling him he is invested in him through prayer. (v3) In what better way can we tell a person how much we love them than to tell them that we involve them in our conversations with God. Not just any conversation, but that we pray in thanksgiving to the Lord for their part in our life.

Paul acknowledges, before any other thing, that Timothy has given himself over to the Lord in faith; clarifying that this is the key ingredient to his value among men, and specifically his fellow Christians. (v4). Paul continues on to define the factor that makes all of this possible by acknowledging Timothy’s destiny as heaven; the result of his accepting Christ’s gift of life. (v5)

Paul acknowledges the fruit of Timothy’s ministry as the result of his acceptance of the gospel and dedication to the truth. Not only does this acknowledgment inform Timothy of Paul’s esteem, but it also directs Timothy back to the source of his ministry’s effectiveness. In this way, Paul keeps Timothy grounded to the Word and the mission of expanding God’s Kingdom (v5-7). Paul establishes a boundary for Timothy by constraining his work and message to that of the teaching and training originally given; even praising him for not (to that point) straying from it. (v7)

Paul tells Timothy of his dedication to him. He explains that in addition to thanksgiving, his prayers are intentional and focused on specific developmental goals. Paul first directs Timothy to acknowledge God’s will as he contemplates his ministry objectives. (v9) He clearly wishes Timothy to be a man who is willingly guided to understanding and wisdom by the Holy Spirit. (v9) His words serve to edify Timothy of the necessity of Holy Spirit leadership for those who wish to see their works bear fruit and please the Lord. Paul goes into detail, identifying that being pleasing to God requires one to continue to increase in knowledge, partly so they are fully able to function in every circumstance of Kingdom work. (v10)

Paul further refines his prayers for Timothy, exhorting him to fully accept that his power as a minister is the result of God’s power. He specifically calls on Timothy to use God’s power to dig deep and be courageously and joyfully dependent on God for the strength and longsuffering he needs as a leader, and to be patient as God takes him through the trials of his life. (v11)

Finally, Paul reminds Timothy that who he has become is the result of the work God has done in his life. Paul is likely just reminding Timothy of his birthright as a Christian, but he indeed takes the opportunity to tell him about his inheritance:

…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14)

Although Paul is not the giver of the inheritance, he is the giver of the blessing. Of course, Timothy has previously been trained as a Christian to understand these things, but that does not diminish the value of Paul’s giving of the special-blessing. Most times, the special-blessing is given at the time it is most needed, to inspire or just remind one of their inheritance.

Notice that in the special-blessing scenario, there is a promise of some sort of gain. For Timothy, the ultimate gain is eternal life; but the reality is that it is not the giving of the final inheritance that immediately impacts a young missionary. It is the knowledge that the church (in this case spoken for by Paul) appreciates their abilities and is excited about their potential. Additionally, the missionary is shown by the church that they are valued as missionaries, which establishes the feelings of security they need during their deployment.

Remember now the beginning days of your ministry. Try to recall the given special-blessings that helped you become the pastor or leader you have become. The special-blessing is a powerful tool used to provide your missionaries, children, spouse, friends, and staff a way to know how you see them and their value to you, the church, and the Kingdom. Always be honest and never use a blessing to manipulate anyone, and you will see new confidence begin to build in the receiver. Confidence that will stick with them for the rest of their life and ministry.

Mark Painter MCM/PC
Missionary Care Lead

Find Your Place On Mission

Recently I had the opportunity to join one of our Partner churches for 3 days of their week long VBS. All I can say is WOW! What this church did in preparation, mobilization, and execution was phenomenal. The hand painted back drops, individual badges, transformation of their worship space and community involvement was totally Mission minded. Their church mission statement is “Love God, Love others, and Make disciples.” For this week of VBS both young and old were living that mission. I saw so many senior adults leading groups, teaching classes, serving snacks, and leading songs. From the lead minister to their youth group members, this church was “ALL IN” reaching out to their community. As I was leaving my second day there I saw area day-care busses picking up kids for their return trip. Now that’s a purpose driven bus ministry. I recently read where seniors who care for their grandchildren on a regular basis live longer, and taking care of kids both keeps us physically active as well as relieves stress. For this week these senior adults loved on these adopted children for 3 hours a day and I am sure they were full of Joy at the end of that week. 

There is Joy in serving, there is Peace in serving, Patience can be found, Kindness can be shared, Goodness is present, Faithfulness is rewarded. Find your place on Mission, live out your churches mission, and let the Fruits of the Spirit be manifested in your labor of Love. If your church needs help with its Mission to your community and the world, schedule time with us and your leaders. We are here for just that purpose, helping the Church live and serve “On Mission”, both across the street and across the oceans.

Wayne Pierce

Operations Lead

What Happens When God’s Will Leads You To Change?

Christy Paul, LMHC

In life we go through many changes. A study done in 2013 said that 73% of students do not use their college degree. Many people change jobs 5-7 times in their lifetime, and many others change jobs every year. There are many reasons why people change jobs. They may get bored with what they are doing, or want to take a pay increase, or do something less stressful. Some get burned out, or they want to move elsewhere: closer to family, the beach, or mountains. Regardless of the reason, or if it’s a good or bad thing, the idea of getting one job and staying there until retirement has become a thing of the past.

People in ministry are no different. Just because you start off in one country, or at one church does not necessarily mean that is where God wants you to stay. What is most important is that you are following God’s will in order to have an effective ministry. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. In his letter to the Romans (1:11-13) he said:

“11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.”

Paul, as a missionary, knew that he had to take care of going and doing the will of God, in God’s timing!

It’s important to be real with yourself. God calls all of us to be missionaries. Jesus, before ascending into Heaven told us to go into all the earth preaching the Gospel. It is very important that we are missionaries wherever we are, whether or not we go overseas. That being said, full-time missionaries in foreign countries, and Pastors in our communities are very vital. Without them there would not be the access to the Gospel that there is today and we would not be fulfilling Christ’s commission. So, what happens when you are in missions work, or are pastoring a church and you begin to feel the need for a change?

First, consider where this thought is coming from? Is it based out of insecurity, like we discussed before? Is it Satan trying to make you feel like you aren’t good enough and bring you and The Church down? OR, is it from God, and he is telling you that He wants you to further His Kingdom in a different way in a different place?

Second, what are your motives for leaving? Is it because of selfish gain? Is it because you feel you have done all you can do? Is it because you believe that your time is better spent somewhere else, serving others? OR maybe you are at a point in life where you recognize that having someone new, fresh, and full of energy would do the ministry well?

Third, consider the advice of those around you that you trust to be good mentors. Many people may tell you to stay, and not leave. Others may be putting pressure on you TO leave. Find out from those wisest around you, who are honest, what they think and suggest.

And, most IMPORTANT pray and seek scripture.

If you have any further questions or need to speak to someone about what you have read and discovered in this blog, please reach out to Here2There ministries at here2there.org@gmail.com

Four Levels of Missionary Care: Part 1

There is no doubt that the ministry of missionary care is multi-leveled and multi-faceted. It’s multi-leveled in the cooperation of at least four levels of care: church, partnership, agency, and crisis care givers. It is also multi-faceted in the diversity of need of each individual field worker (including individual children) in each of numerous ministry locations and situations. Each level has its strengths and weaknesses. Yet, the weakness of one is the strength of another. There is a vital need for these four levels to continue to increase their cooperation so that missionaries are better cared for. After all, missionaries are too valuable to lose.

Read the rest of this blog at The Upstream Collective.

The Strategy Advantage

By Wayne Dinsbeer

Sure, I know it is only July, but the Hallmark channel has been playing Christmas movies for weeks. So you can get a Christmas in July flavored blog.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. My Son had given us one assignment for Christmas Eve, get the grandson’s bikes to their house in time for Santa’s delivery. No problem, we (my wife Donna and I) have this. I recall picking up the bikes and discovering the tires needed air. Santa couldn’t deliver new bikes that were not ready to ride.

In our good intended grandparent way, we stopped to fill the tires on the bikes. Things were going along ok until we heard a POP sound from a tire which got too much air. Now normally this wouldn’t be an issue. Go to Walmart and get a new tube for the tire. But remember, it is Christmas Eve and there was no place open selling bike tire tubes. This was not good and Donna and I tried to think of every possible way to correct our mistake, which would be so impactful come the next morning. We tried everything we could, but there was no solving this dilemma on this night. 

It took my memories back many years to another Christmas Eve when we had purchased a Strawberry Shortcake Dollhouse for our daughter, The box was rather large and I assumed I could open it up and pull it out ready to go. About midnight I discovered the huge box was full of a million pieces to assemble with a 28 page set of instructions. Four hours later we had it together. That was a tiring evening, but our daughter enjoyed her new dollhouse the next morning.

I give these two embarrassing examples to call  your attention to the differences in outcomes of the two events. In the case of the bicycle tire exploding on Christmas Eve we were without any way to change the disappointing results experienced by our Son, the Father, giving a broken bike to his Son on Christmas Day all because we, the Grands messed up. But, in the case of the Dollhouse, while not at all what we expected, there was a plan available to make this right producing a much better outcome Christmas Day. 

Many churches, missionaries, ministries, and organizations are like the bike story. They operate on a day to day basis without a great deal of thought given to having a plan or strategy for their work. When things go wrong there is no way of correction and getting back on track. Tragically the works of many are not what they should be or could be with a viable strategy for ministry by which they operate. They fail to have vision, purpose, and plan. Consequently their results are mediocre at best.

How much better it would be if they were more like the Dollhouse story which included detailed instructions on what to do first as well as what goes where. The end product comes out so much better.

Fortunately, the Plan available to us all is found in the greatest book ever written – The Bible. We just need to discover how it best instructs us in accordance with the direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives and ministry.

Here2There is purposed in helping ministries discover just that – their Biblical Plan and Strategy for ministry. We believe strongly that it provides us with great details for every part of the work to which we have been called and commissioned. 

Our focus in assisting ministries often leads us to Acts 1:8 where we find the mandate to have a vision and strategy for reaching our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Uttermost. This begins first with a ministry defining each of these areas as God has given them vision. It continues with intentional prayer and creation of a plan or strategy to accomplish the vision God has given them for each of these areas. I would love to share more with you about this aspect of our work.

Recently I was with the Pastor of one of our Here2There partner churches. We were attending a kickoff luncheon for a citywide evangelistic blitz. As they unfolded the plan to reach every home in our city with the gospel message, this Pastor and I commented that his church is already poised to do what they were instructing. This was due to the two years of casting vision and developing an effective strategy that was making a positive difference at this church. Many of the steps talked about have already been taken by this church to prepare them for an even greater result as they participate in this awesome effort.

Here2There offers Pastors, Church Leaders, Missionaries and Ministry Leaders training that equips one to discover the vision God has for them and the ministry. We provide the tools to use to develop ministry strategy and train others to engage and mobilize to accomplish that strategy. One such training program we offer is called ampd (Association of Missionary Partnership Development), an 11 month cohort in which we share detailed lessons and instruction as well as provide useful resources needed. To learn more about this go to our website at here2there.org and click on the ampd link. There you will also discover the various other aspects of this awesome ministry.

Discerning A Call To Missions

A GUEST ARTICLE BY MATTHEW BENNETT

I teach missions and theology at Cedarville University—a university that has missions pulsing through its veins in every department. As a result, I have had innumerable conversations with students that begin with the same question: “How do I know if I have been called to missions?”

Though calling language is used broadly within Christian circles, the idea of calling seems to take on significantly more weight when related to vocational missions. Perhaps that added weight comes from the perception that missions requires surrendering expectations of a comfortable future. Or perhaps it arises from an over-spiritualized idea that a calling to missions is accompanied by a voice from heaven or a message written in the sky. Whatever the reason, in those initial conversations I find myself asking similar questions and offering similar advice.

To finish reading this article go to here.

Understanding the Value of Transparency

In our last newsletter I shared about our failed attempt at our online AMPD course in April. (We had all the right pieces in place, just no one signed up) I hate sharing about failure, or things that aren’t “successful” to those who pray and support us. I want you to know that your prayers and support are doing something. Part of my hesitation is out of fear. I fear you will see me and our work as ‘not good enough’ and not want to be a part of our ministry anymore. I fear when you take on this (false) thought you will stop supporting our work. This puts my dependence on you and not on God. All of these are unhealthy lies from the enemy to keep us disconnected. The sad part is, I am not the only one who goes through these vicious cycles of fear and doubt.

One of the hardest things for missionaries and churches to have is transparency in their relationships. For genuine partnerships and unity to happen, both the church and the missionary have to be completely open and honest in their ministries with each other. This means both the good and the bad. Transparency is difficult because it means we have to share the hard days, the failures, the struggles, and that makes us look weak. 

Often times, we do not rally around those who are struggling, we simply want to invest in and partner with those who are succeeding, with those who have great results, those who have great numbers to show for. It is not in our nature to invest in things that look like they are not succeeding. And, it means more work on the supporting side to invest more than just money.

The question then comes to mind, what do we do with those who are serving in difficult countries, those who are serving among the unreached who take years and years to penetrate the surface with the gospel, what do we do with those who are in resistant communities? To our number and statistic driven culture, that looks like failure. So, do we not invest in them?

Missionaries often feel they cannot be open and honest because they will lose the support their churches and donors are providing them each month. They want to paint a good picture, that they are investing in a ministry that is having results. But, the truth is, we don’t invest solely in the ministry itself. But, we invest in the people doing the ministry. We invest in their well-being, in their spiritual growth, in the work God has called them to do. (discipleship)

Yes, there are many false expectations Satan has created between the church and missionary to keep us separated. There are many deceitful lies that both sides believe the other wants or expects. And, because of the lack of transparency, it’s hard for us to talk about them with the other person and be honest. It has created a very bad culture between churches and missionaries.  

H2T is here to break that culture.

When partnerships are in place, the agreement isn’t just on the outcome, but on the people, on the process, and on the vision God has given. We’ve all heard the expression, it’s not a sprint, but a journey. The same is true for our partnership commitments with our missionaries and this means even when we don’t see the desired results, we still push on, together, towards the finish line.

For the missionary who shares their struggles and their failures, that is an open door for opportunity to care, to love, to encourage, to come beside in those times; maybe they need encouragement, maybe they need some pointers from experts who sit in your pews each week. (Do people still sit in pews?)

I challenge you to take a step in the Transparency direction even if you are the first to step out. Let your partners know why you are struggling, where the hurts are, why you made the wrong move and where they can help you in these areas(they might need some help knowing what to do).

If your church or your ministry would like to strengthen your partnership relationships, please contact us today. information@here2there.org

Plant and Have Faith

 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. I Corinthians 3:6-9 ESV


Recently my wife and I were driving past our old neighborhood and decided to drive through and see how much, if anything, had changed. We built in a new development in 2012 expecting to live and grow there. But desires changed thus, we sold and bought another house.
Driving by the previous home we were overwhelmed by the growth of the palm tree and cypress we had planted. The cypress that was maybe 4 feet tall when it was added is now taller than the first story roof. The palm tree that once was in a three-gallon container, now had fans six feet wide and is itself as tall as the cypress at the opposite corner. Neither of these were from seed, but we planted them.
As Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth concerning their division, he used the analogy of planting. Verse seven reads; “So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything”…. And in this case, we weren’t anything but the previous owner who stuck some plants from a local store in the ground. Yet now there is a huge tree on each corner of the home providing beauty and color. We didn’t study the ground or have the soil tested. We maybe researched what plants would thrive in our climate zone, but we really didn’t know if these particular plants would survive. We did, however, make an impact that is being felt by those that now live there and those around.
We at Here2There strive to plant in good ground. With-in our ampd program the strategy and demographic study shows each member church where fertile ground is in their immediate area. It brings to light who lives around them. Are there young couples trying to make a start? Is there a group of immigrants in the area that may need help with English or other cultural needs? What are the needs of their community and how can they meet those needs with the Gospel?
Does your church have a strategy that reaches your community? If you don’t know, maybe you should ask. Maybe your church is waiting on you to step up, ask the right questions that gets you and the Body of Christ planting. Planting so the Holy Spirit can water and you see growth that comes from God. Let us help you and your church do what Paul and Apollos did at Corinth.

Wayne Pierce
Operations Lead

Shut It Down

There are so many good things we can do in the world today and there are a million good charities and non-profits that are doing really great things and giving money to them or helping them would truly benefit society. In my last job every employee was encouraged to give to UNICEF, how could you say no to starving kids? Many times at Christian concerts they try to get you to sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International and show heartbreaking pictures. The name Sarah McLachlan automatically makes me think of animals that need rescuing. Plus, I personally know a number of missionaries across the world who could certainly use more money. However, we obviously can’t just say yes to every good program that crosses our path. So, we typically prioritize what means the most to us or we feel is the greatest benefit or any number of ways about how we might give our money or our time to a good cause. In the same way a business can’t spread itself so thin that it is unable to do anything well. Successful businesses figure out what they do well or identify an area of need and focus all of their resources in that direction.

Church should operate in the same way. There are any number of good things our churches can do, and in many cases are doing, but that don’t fulfill the central purpose of the existence of the church. We see in Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The church is a place of learning and understanding the teaching of the apostles and of Jesus and thankfully we have the Bible to help us. But we don’t just meet in order to learn after all we see two instances where Jesus tells us to go out into the world and be his witnesses and make disciples in Acts1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20 respectively. Paul gives us an idea of what it looks like in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” So, the three things we see here are a devotion to Biblical teaching, a commissioning to go out and make disciples, and equipping the body for the work of ministry.

Now the question is, can you say that every program in your church is accomplishing those three things? Do your church’s mission and vision statements lead to those being accomplished?

Here2There believes that every church should have a strong and measurable mission statement. One that encompasses what the church is going to do and how it will be accomplished. Only then can you know if all of your services, classes and programs fit within that mission and move the church towards the identified goal. Maybe its time to evaluate some of the things that your church is involved in to see if they fit your mission and if they don’t it might be time to shut them down. It could be difficult and possibly unpopular but as a church the focus should be the most resources as possible in the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading. Often times the problem we run into is that we have spread ourselves too thin that we end up not really accomplishing very much at all. If we take a step back, evaluate and prioritize what we do then we can pour more resources into everything we’re doing. Let’s start trying to be great at a few things rather than being mediocre(at best) at many things.

One of the churches that we work with was in a very lifeless state. In about a decade they had gone from a church of around 500 to a church that struggled to even hit 100 on any particular Sunday morning. They had gotten comfortable and lost their focus. That same church now has completely revamped their whole reason for existing and now everything they do leads towards missions. There is a big push for everyone to be involved in missions, whether its with neighbors across the street or across the world, and the church has a renewed life. They’re attractive again because they are showing that they care.

Here2There has some ways we can help a church in this area. We have:

-DNA MATRIX EVALUATION – helps evaluate every area of ministry in your church with the mission elements

-MISSION OVERVIEW – initiates a mission strategy for your church

-FREE MISSION EVALUATION CALL WITH OUR TEAM – free 30 minute call with one of our Mission Strategists

Contact us if you are interested in knowing more or learning about any of our resources.

here2there.org or info@here2there.org

Bryan Nicholson

Media and Marketing Lead

Welcoming Broken Missionaries Back

As a ministry we are starting to talk more about member care and what it takes to make sure our missionaries have what they need. This week we are sharing a guest blog from A Life Overseas. It’s a great resource for churches and missionary agencies who have missionaries coming back from being in the field. We are so grateful for this ministry like this who are sharing real stories so that we can learn from it. The original blog can be read here.

John Chau’s death in November raised a complicated and important conversation about the role of Christian evangelism. I’m going to let that debate rage on Twitter and the New York Times and the Failed Missionary podcast. I want to launch a different conversation. I believe Chau’s dream, work, and death forces the church to consider what the push of evangelism will require not of those who “go” but of those who “send.”

There is a missing piece in that go-send picture because the one who goes out will eventually come back. How will be they welcomed back? What kind of support systems are in place? Who will be the “receiver” of the returned missionary?

This question is especially relevant in the context of evangelism among what are known as unreached and unengaged populations like the people on the North Sentinelese island, (“An unengaged unreached people group (UUPG) has no known active church planting underway,” the Joshua Project) because missionaries who go to these places are also often missionaries who return broken. How will they be supported?

There is a reason groups of people are unreached or unengaged. They are sometimes hostile to outsiders, remote, living in places of poverty or disease or isolation. They tend to live in areas not considered comfortable, beautiful, or safe. They may speak languages that are not written down, difficult to learn. Their cultures might be radically different from the Western culture out of which many missionaries come. They want to be left alone.

Reaching these people is hard. Slow. Discouraging. And it comes with risks. There may be bodies buried on beaches, like Chau’s. There will certainly be brokenness, pain, and grief. Those who have gone out rejoicing will return weeping. I’m not sure the sending church is ready for that.

The call of the church to raise up Christians who will go to the unengaged is not a triumphal call for heroes. It is a call to suffering and death and brokenness. Churches which actively promote this kind of mission work need to be prepared to receive their people back, along with all their sorrow, pain, and anger.

There needs to be strong support systems in place to help those who return.

Counseling, intensive therapy for all members of the family, marriage help, help in finding jobs, financial advisors, medical assistance, physical space in which to recover, nonjudgmental and safe ways for them to ask all the deep, hard, scary questions about God and faith that rocked their world while living abroad, opportunities for them to be angry. Time. I don’t mean a week or a month. I mean maybe a year, depending on what a person has walked through. Community, people willing to welcome the returned into their families and holiday traditions and Bible studies, even though that person doesn’t have a shared history other than a yearly visit or monthly newsletter.

And grace to recognize that while living abroad, the person sent out from the church has changed. Is the Church ready to welcome that kind of changed person back into their arms with tenderness and acceptance?

I have seen missionaries ask for prayer as they grieve the death of their child and the prayer request is rephrased as, “Pray for their work.” I have seen missionaries told to move on quicker after a family accident or to stop being afraid when death threats or sexual harassment bombard them.

The church dare not, dare not, pray for the unengaged to be engaged while in the same breath refuse to face the tragedy that will come with that engagement. This is dangerous and irresponsible, if the church is not prepared to deal with the consequences.

People who live abroad get broken there. Then they come home and their wounds go unacknowledged. They are heroes. They are brave. They are warriors.

Fine (sort of). But guess what? They are also weak, lonely, confused, shattered. Their marriages are damaged, their children have depression, their bodies are fragile and filled with parasites, their resumes have unexplainable holes, their job skills fail to translate. They are lonely, their faith has been pushed sometimes to the breaking point. They have seen poverty and the global realities of politics and their own ideas on these topics have been transformed. They are no longer welcome, when they speak from what they’ve learned, in the places which sent them out.

I certainly see churches ready to send people triumphantly out.

Please, dear Western Church, be willing and ready to welcome them brokenly back.

Written by an anonymous worker