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Dealing with loss

by Rafael Nastase

This year is unique due not only to the pandemic situation, but also for political conflicts, and one of the most destructive bushfire from Australia.  But for some, uniqueness of this year is given greater significance by the loss of someone dear from our family, a friend or a dear colleague.

I remember, at the end April, my brother called me informing I have to come to the southern part of Romania as my mother lost her fight with cancer. Due to pandemic restrictions, it was a strange and small funeral. I went back home with an emptiness in my soul.

Two months later, one of our collaborators called me. I knew her name from my phone book: she was the mother of one of my colleagues.  Her voice trembling, she informed me that my colleague, her older son Radus, fell from a 100 meters cliff and died.

A couple of days later I was preaching at Radus’ funeral, remembering him taking the leadership baton from me and leading OM ministry for six months. I cry out to God, asking WHY?

 

Is “why?” a legitimate question?

This spring-summer, I learn that God is allowing me to ask why. I will not have the certainty that I will receive answers for my questions. But what’s making the uniqueness of losing someone, is the not the loss, but the metamorphosis which comes after – those mysterious moments, running from peace to agony; those moments when we can discover God like never before. Yes, for Christians, suffering is a mystery. Kierkegaard said: ”those who suffer have a common secret with God.”

 

God’s message to a deaf world

At Radus’ remembrance days, I remember that three days of ongoing fellowship and testimonies were not enough to speak about how greatly God was working through a short life of 30 years: from a high level medical student to skin donation to a person in need, from a midnight call counselling people in crisis, to a medical cabinet, there was God’s shade over him.  I learned that trough loss, pain became “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world”(C.S. Lewis).

During loss, I also discovered that some people have high level of tolerance to pain. Meeting (apparently) so tender, soft and “weak” people facing the loss of a dear one, but having such resilience, it really amazes me. I realise is not our power to face tribulations, He is giving the power, because He “overcome the world” (John16:33).

Even though Jesus warned us “in this world we will have trouble”, I will continue asking “why?” and even though I might not understand His sovereign plan, I will be honoured to be His megaphone for this deaf world.

My prayer is that, in those “why moments” when I am asking to “take this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42), He will strength you and I to remain faithful in the midst of pain produced by loss.

 

This month’s blog is by Rafael Nastase of OM Romania

 

Talking to TCKs about Covid-19

Earlier this month Gabriele Hölzle of OM People Care (who was due to be one of the speakers at EMCC 2020) wrote an article for her team about how she had listened to TCKs about their experience of Covid-19).  We thought you’d like to read it (shared with permission).  Just click here.

Introducing Jiska

My name is Jiska Chin-A-Teh – Schuurmans. I’m 36 years old and I live in The Netherlands in a little village called Moordrecht, together with my husband Curly and our 8-year-old son Jayden. In 1989, at the age of 6, I moved with my family to Surinam (South America) as the daughter of missionaries Marco and Marjolein Schuurmans, where I lived for eleven years until our return in 2000. After my return I experienced what it’s like to return from the mission field as a Third Culture Kid. Having to ground again in an environment everyone speaks of as home, but which no longer felt to me like home.

After my Bachelor in Business Administration I started working as a project & account manager for a Dutch IT-company. Even though I enjoyed my job I was always looking for more satisfaction in work and life and ways to contribute to God’s kingdom. Since 2013, I’m involved in the Mission & Evangelism team within our Church. In addition, I am a member of the support teams of two missionary couples (working in Brazil and Suriname). I have a passion and heart for mission, in other words I guess you could say, mission is part of my DNA.

Since February 2020 I started working for MissieNederland (the Dutch EMA) as Relations manager Church & Global missions. In addition, I was appointed as Coordinator for MemberCare Netherlands and therefore joined the Board of MemberCare Europe. For me it’s a real privilege being able to call my passion my work and I look forward working together with other MemberCare professionals in the care for our missionary workers!

 

“So, after all that, peace was only this!”

This disillusioned quote is from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). He was a French Jesuit priest, researcher, palaeontologist, theologian and philosopher.

When the lockdown in France was announced on March 16th, the French president declared we were at war, a difficult war against a brutal virus. Soon will come, for many of us here in Europe, the day after. What new opportunities for change will it bring? How will we manage them?

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Covid was the First World War, during which he was confined for five years to the boredom and brutality of the trenches, working as a stretcher-bearer carrying injured soldiers from the battlefield.

When peace returned, he was horribly disappointed to find a world that had not changed. Then he realized that he had glimpsed, while confined in the trenches, the better world that he dreamed of, and that this fleeting vision was enough to mobilize his personal commitment and show him his way in this world.

Here is the full quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, written in 1919 just after the end of the war:

So, after all that, peace was only this! The peace which, during these long years of suffering, shone incessantly ahead of us, like a mirage… The peace that gave us the courage to hold on and resist because we thought we were fighting for a better world… But what this peace had in store for us was only this!

The war stripped away our surface banalities and conventions, opening a window onto deeper human needs and functioning. But now that peace has returned, so has all the old pettiness and monotony of our pre-war existence. Although moved, elevated and united for a time in our common posture of defence, people returned to their self-centred obsessions and preoccupations as soon as the grip of danger was gone.

Surrounded by the banalities of existence that have regained their dullness, with the contradictions of a society that has returned to its moral poverty and scattered individualism, I will patiently resume my usual occupations, illuminated by what I saw during those brief moments in the trenches when, for a great cause, millions of us were united together in the fight for the preservation of life.

But life is still beautiful! For I have glimpsed, from the top of the mountain, the Promised Land!”

If this global crisis can serve as a wake-up call to many things, including the profound changes that our societies must implement in their models of economic development and the way we must go about our daily lives on this fragile planet, it is important that our collective responsibility not detract from our personal need for change. In the aftermath of this crisis, it would be sad if our “self-centred obsessions and preoccupations” resumed as before.

Once we have been released from our present confinement, how will things be different in our spiritual, emotional and relational life? In the management of our work/rest rhythms? In how we consume, travel, slow down, study, help and think?

And how will things be different for those of us in Member Care?

For many of us during this time, the words of Psalm 46:10-11 have taken on special significance:

Be still, and know that I am God!

I will be honoured by every nation.

I will be honoured throughout the world.

The Lord of Heaven’s armies is here among us;

The God of Israel is our fortress.

Before we rush headlong into our new-found freedom, let’s keep sight of what this psalm invites us to do:

to be still, enough to pause and reflect;

to know, through all the turbulence, that He is God and worthy to be honoured;

to remember: He is here and He is present;

to rest assured: He is our fortress, and we are therefore secure.

 

The following questions may help us as we reflect:

  • What have I discovered about myself in this time of confinement?
  • What have I discovered about God?
  • What strategies have I acquired? What new strengths have I gained?
  • What limitations have I learned to manage?
  • What discoveries might I share with others?

Lord Jesus, we have not only “glimpsed, from the top of the mountain, the Promised Land”; you are our Promised Land. We know you and you know us. You are the way toward our dreams and desires for growth and change. May the communion of love that you invite us to enjoy with you allow your will to have full access to all areas of our lives. And may our lives, by your grace and your strength working in us, reflect more than ever your beauty, your consistency, your simplicity, your generosity and your joy. Amen.

 

[This month’s post is by Jonathan Ward of Pierres Vivantes, our board member representing France and other Francophone regions in Europe.]

Greetings from the executive committee

The executive committee of Member Care Europe explains why we had to cancel EMCC, and the attempted online alternative.

Marriage as an idol?

Greetings everyone,

Recently, our Nikanor training alumni asked us two questions that boil down to the following important issues in the field of member care and counseling:

  • Can marriage, or the pursuit of marriage, become an idol?
  • How and why do we become stuck in our grieving?

And we thought we would share the answers with you, with the hope that some of you may find these useful in your work.  Please refer to the two files we have attached: Marriage and Grieving.

Dr. Paul & Cathy Rodriguez

www.NikanorProject.org

Intercultural Coach Training – UK

Do you work with people from other cultures and want to come alongside and support them? Do you carry a personnel responsibility and would like to deepen your competencies in personnel management against the backdrop of migration and integration?

Jochen & Christine Schuppener’s International Coach Training is being made available in English through All Nations Christian College.  Click here for more info.

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