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Re-entry in Covid time

Chaos in my head.  Chaos in my life.  Chaos in my family.  What to do?  I am in transition!

Due to the COVID crisis, me and my family needed to return to our home country earlier than planned.  But what is my home country?  

There are many questions in my head? Sometimes I am sure about a lot of things and know this is the right step to go forward, but other times nothing feels sure, I only feel left with sorrows and lots of questions.

I couldn’t say a proper goodbye to the people I loved and served for many years, due to the fact that we needed to leave suddenly.

We don’t have a house yet where we can stay for longer period of time, thus we can’t make it a home yet. Our personal things are still unpacked.

What about a job?

What about schooling for our children, and will they ever make friends again? Due to the lockdown, it is hard to meet new people anyway, to go to church or to settle in and even to catch up with old friends and family.

We are still on our own ‘island’, sometimes that feels at home, cozy and it gives us a lot of peace and rest, nobody is asking us to give any presentations of our work overseas, we are still in our own bubble and enjoying it! But other times we know we have to pick up life again to adjust to our home country or can I better say to a new country after many years away? There are a lot of mixed feelings and doubts.

Even the question was raised: ‘Where is God in the midst of it?’ Sometimes I just don’t know where He is? How can this happen so suddenly anyway? Yes, we had planned to return, but not in this way. We wanted to prepare our goodbyes properly and we wanted to plan our return very well, but nothing has happened as we had hoped and planned.

These are just some of the feelings of missionaries that I often hear, as they are in the midst of a re-entry.  Re-entry is a chaotic period in life of missionaries, but it makes it even more chaotic because of the COVID crisis.

While I was writing this, I was thinking of the story of Daniel and his friends in the Bible while they were in exile.  They were completely uprooted, snatched away from everything they knew.  They didn’t have a home anymore.  They had been taken away from everything they knew to a complete strange Babylonian Empire, now called Iraq.  A new culture, new surroundings, new gods, new people, everything they knew was gone.  Even their names were changed, they got new names related to new gods, which they didn’t know.  Where is the God of Israel?

They were displaced.  Their lives were shaken because all familiarity was thrown away.  A comparison can be made with lots of missionaries today when they return from the field so suddenly.  Questions are raised: Where is God?  What about our ministry?  We had a strong vision, but now it is gone?

Transition in COVID time makes it even more difficult because you cannot connect to people in your new neighborhood, you don’t know how to find a job and how to connect to your church or join a new church.

Back to Daniel.  If we read through Daniel, we see that in the midst of the chaos, God is with Daniel and his friends.  He is not alone.  God gave people on his path; you can read this in Daniel 1 verse 9: ‘now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel’.  This is very special to read, because God gave a person to Daniel who was not a believer, but he showed compassion to Daniel.  Do we see the people who God gives to us on our path?  Do we look for them?  God gave Daniel and his friends also a mission in Daniel 1 verse 17: ‘To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.’

When I came back from the mission field to the Netherlands many years ago, I thought I did not have a mission anymore, it is all over and it is all gone.  The story of Daniel encouraged me a lot that my mission is not related to a special place, but it is related to wherever I go.  God is with me and I can still serve Him.  Wherever you are, sitting on your old-fashioned sofa in your temporary house, your mission isn’t gone.  Yes, your mission has to adjust to a different place and to different surroundings with different people, but it is still your mission.  God is still there, as he was with Daniel and his friends, He is also there with you and your family.

Re-entry means you are in transition, you are uprooted, all that is familiar and what you found so normal is no longer there.  You thought you knew everything.  You thought you still knew everything in your own home country, but had to discover it is not there anymore.  You thought you knew God.  You thought you had a mission, now it seems it is all gone.  God shows us through the story of Daniel that it is not about God being yours, but that is about you being His child.  God says: ‘You are mine!’  He is faithful.  He is there and you can still follow His mission wherever you are. He will be with you.

It is very normal that re-entry brings many mixed feelings.  Re-entry is a process of chaos in your head, a process of adjusting, and that is not always easy.  We often want to do it quickly, because we want to move on.  However, it is important to spend time dealing with your re-entry process.  If you’ve been away for 5 years, the figurative distance is actually 10 years. You went one way for 5 years, but people in your home country went the other way for 5 years.  It is very normal to experience chaos in your life!  It is very normal that it seems you are living in a blur.  It is very normal that you are feeling you live in two worlds.  We didn’t even talk about the effects of social media, that turns the world into one big village.  Some people might not even know where they are physically.

Take your time for this re-entry process.  Allow yourself this time!  Talk about it with people who understand or with people who have gone through these kinds of experiences themselves.  Re-entry is a huge change; it is saying goodbye to things and people you have lived with for many years.  Re-entry is a process of starting over.  Re-entry is also a grieving process and that takes time.  Take your time and don’t feel guilty about it.  That’s the beautiful thing of the COVID crisis, due to the quarantine and the lock-down you are forced or maybe better, you are allowed to get some more time to adjust to your home (new) country.  Make use of that time!

 

Margriet Muurling is the initiator of InToMission, an organization that provides professional member care, coaching and debriefing for missionaries.  Find out more about InToMission on their website or email info@intomission.nl  

This article is published with permission.

 

Debriefing retreats in Finland

An elderly missionary lady came to the first pilot debriefing retreat and she was welcomed by a young lady. She was really shocked and wondered in her mind, is this young people’s retreat and if so, what is she doing there. She nearly turned around, but luckily decided to stay anyway. And it was good for her, because in the end she was very happy and thankful for everything in the retreat. She received more than she had expected.

She is not the only one who has come to the retreat a bit suspicious, hesitant, reserved, tired, not knowing what to expect, but who has left relieved, joyful, and refreshed. We can often see a big change in participants in five days only. They look different when they leave: relieved, burdens have been lifted, new perspective to life, past experiences and hardships has been achieved. Often the first night when we all introduce ourselves relaxes atmosphere. You can nearly hear a sigh of relief when they find out that all debriefers are professionals and experienced.

Another helpful thing is that we all, both debriefers and participants, represent different mission organisations. It is comforting to see that missionaries have same kind of problems and burdens regardless of organisation. Peer support is another factor that helps a lot. There is mutual sharing between younger and older missionaries. Groups are different every year because participants are different.

It all began some years back, in 2014, when Erik Spruyt from Le Rucher Ministries, France, came to Finland to give training for member care people about debriefing retreat. Next year he came back with Catherine Fröhlich who gave training for child debriefing. Altogether they trained 32 debriefers for adults and children. About half of them are actively involved with retreat ministry team.

At that time, we did not know how successful debriefing retreats would become. Some of us who were involved with member care were very excited, some were a bit hesitant and sceptical wondering how it would work out financially and practically. However, we decided to organise a pilot retreat in 2015 and 13 missionaries came. Since then, we have had once a year a debriefing retreat and twice we have organised a family retreat. We have had 13-19 participants and 7-9 debriefers at a time. Altogether there have been 103 participants, among them 33 men, 70 women, 27 married couples and 14 children. They represent 18 mission organisations.

We are following the international Le Rucher Ministries model which is based on the Bible and psychological knowledge. It is neither a silent retreat nor a study seminar, but it is a combination of plenary sessions, personal times of reflection, and one-to-one sessions with a debriefer. The purpose is to facilitate the process of dealing with various issues of participants. Trained debriefers give plenary sessions and serve on one-to-one sessions. Retreats are held in the countryside by a lake, which is beautiful and peaceful surroundings. And there is a sauna as well, which is very important for relaxing and sharing for Finns.

All debriefers have one way or the other mission experience, which helps them to understand missionaries and especially cross-cultural issues. They are also professionals like medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, and pastors. Some of them are working with a mission organisation, some have a secular work, some are retired. We come together as a team 4-5 times a year for discussion, planning and developing the ministry.

We are working under the umbrella of Finnish Mission Council (FMC) and its Member care working group. FMC consists of 30 member organisations and churches. FMC is a member of European Evangelical Missionary Association (EEMA) and the European Ecumenical Mission Council (EEMC). FMC celebrated its history of 100 years in 2019.

This month’s blogger is Pirjo Alajoki, psychologist and author, who was Chair of Member Care working group in Finland 2002-2016 and Member Care Europe board member 2005-2016

How the Francophone member care network came to be

In the hope that the following might encourage the development of national member care networks, this month’s article focuses on the origins and development of Europe’s French-speaking member care network, called RESAM (Réseau de Soutien aux Ministères).

Many new ventures begin small, tentatively, organically, and without a clear picture of the final result. Such is often man’s way. But it also seems to be God’s way. The Holy Spirit will sometimes nudge and inspire us to dream and imagine an idea, and then God will orchestrate the subsequent steps, setting us on a journey that will see the idea become reality. This will often take time, and there will be obstacles. Even the Promised Land had giants that needed to be conquered.

Member Care Europe was seeded in this way, and so was its francophone equivalent.

Our network began with the awareness of a need: Too many people in ministry are isolated, struggling, underequipped and overstretched.

This reality led me and my family to move from Canada to France in 1999. Within a few months, God unexpectedly created a “chance” encounter with a retired Anglican minister who had moved from the UK to Paris for the same reason. Both of us were attending a missionary retreat, and when he introduced himself to the group by saying, “God sent me to France because I have a burden to care for those in ministry”, I could barely hide my surprise. Here was someone with the same calling!

As we talked, we envisioned a network of care providers in Belgium, Switzerland and France. But where do we start? We drew up a list of people we knew that shared the same burden. I could only contribute two or three names to the list, but my new friend had seven or eight. He had the contacts, I had the language (having grown up as an MK in France). I was in my thirties, he was in his sixties. We could see the beauty of what God does so well: weaving people together, with their backgrounds and gifts, for a common purpose.

So, the following year we organised a gathering for the people on our list: four denominational leaders, two mission directors, a missionary psychologist, two counsellors, and a Christian psychiatrist. We discussed with them the needs of those in full-time ministry, the lack of adequate resources and care, and our vision of a network of providers.

We gathered again in 2002 as a larger group of fifteen, including the general secretary of the French Evangelical Alliance. Having this person on board was the key to moving forward as he invited us to create the network as a commission of the French Evangelical Alliance, giving our network credibility and sustainability.

A committee was formed, membership criteria were developed, along with a constitution, and in 2003 the network was officially launched with a few founding members.

Some had suggested that we should function as a loose unstructured unaffiliated group. MC Europe was faced with a similar choice during its inception. But for something to endure, a certain amount of structure is necessary. This enabled us to integrate the Swiss Evangelical Alliance, and work in partnership with Connect MISSIONS, the federation of francophone evangelical missions, which is part of the EEMA.

Once the network was up and running, we turned our attention not only to the needs of missionaries and pastors, but to their families, to those serving in humanitarian organisations, and to the needs of French-speaking TCKs.

In 2004 the RESAM website  was created, allowing people in ministry to access the network’s resources and members, which grew from a handful to over eighty today.

Every year we hold a three-day conference for our members that includes training on a variety of topics related to the care of those in ministry, both in-country and overseas.

Our membership includes counsellors, life coaches, mediators, trainers, debriefers, organisational consultants, supervisors, and spiritual directors. It also includes places where God’s servants can go for rest and retreat.

In terms of membership criteria, our foundational principle is that every member must have the training, competency and experience that matches the service they provide. Simply wanting to help missionaries or pastors is not enough.

The past twenty years have been a wonderful adventure, with an excellent committee and a great network of member care providers. We have gained the trust of the missions, denominations and Christian leaders we are seeking to help and serve. The needs have never been greater, and our desire never stronger.

 

This month’s blogger is Jonathan Ward, President of RESAM, and Director of Assocation Pierres Vivantes, a retreat ministry based in the French Alps.

“I have learned I am not alone”

It could have been one of my own sentences, but this is a quote from a TCK who participated in one of our TCK groups as part of a two-year pilot project with 54 TCKs.

Returning to the passport country as a TCK is often a time of tough transition. Having met too many TCKs in a period of struggle, we decided to develop a group intervention based on three main theoretical principles:

  • Being part of a group with an atmosphere of the third culture, acceptance, and understanding can prevent children from failure to thrive.
  • Resilience can be built by helping children to comprehend the whole situation and giving them the capacity to use the resources available, as a sense of coherence in their life. Building on the work of Antonovsky, this capacity is a combination of the children’s ability to assess and understand the situation they are in, to find a meaning to move in a health promoting direction, and also having the capacity to do so—that is, comprehensibility, meaningfulness, and manageability, to use Antonovsky’s own terms.
  • Dealing with unresolved grief, the many goodbyes, and hidden grief as a dual-process, namely by oscillating between loss- and restoration-oriented griefwork, is helpful for the child in the first year of re-entry. It helps the child to adaptive coping to deal with both confrontation and avoidance of loss and restoration and to dose the grieving process. And it helps both the child and the parents by giving them words for the process and a way of speaking of and dealing with difficult emotions.

On these theoretical principles we made up a fictional TCK planet and together with the children we made up countries like family-land, missing-land, new friends-land, culture-land, goodbye-land etc. Each session we travelled together 2 adults and 8 TCKS to a specific land, and during the sessions we visited hidden emotions, played games that included mentalization and coping strategies, and – most important of all – the children travelled together, and learned they are not alone!

This very day we finished a research paper concluding on the results of the project (unfortunately in Danish). The results are very hopeful. It is effective and worth working with the children in a group setting, giving them hope, connecting TCKs, and giving them a secure base of a Third Culture while they are processing their re-entry. The quantitative and qualitative results are rather clear. Even though the problems and challenges did not disappear, the children began to thrive as if or maybe because they learned a new way of dealing with the problems, building up resilience, and finding a new way of dealing with or a language for speaking of grief and loss.

As early as after the first meeting with the TCK-group, he quieted down as if something finally was starting to fall into place. What made a difference, I think, was meeting other children with the exact same thoughts and experiences he has had who understood where he was or what he has been through.

(a parent)

TCK groups are now a free intervention for all families returning to Denmark, and I strongly recommend you wherever in the world you are located to begin the work of TCK re-entry groups, because it matters for the TCKs, their families – and it is one of the most meaningful engagements to be part of.

In the end of the project, some of the children together with some of the project members produced a re-entry plan for schools, churches, parents, and for the children. The children’s part is translated into English – and attached here. Feel free to use the material.

 

This month’s blogger is Maria Techow, a psychologist and Member Care worker in Denmark, who regularly does presentations at the European Member Care Consultation.

 

Step by step a dream comes true

Face your dream, pray and share it!  I think it was in 2012 when for the first time I put the dream about an “Intercultural Member Care Center” in Portugal in writing. I had always thought, it was just a crazy idea I´ve had, but then I met other people with a similar vision and we started to pray and dream together and got more serious about this.

Have the courage to dream big!  We desire for the center to be intercultural, interorganizational and self-sustaining. This requires lots of people and resources, as well as a big property and solid administration. Even though our main focus is on Portuguese speaking servants of God, we hope to receive people from all over the world and to be able to counsel them in their own heart language. We want to offer scholarships for those who are struggling financially and feel they cannot afford to take a break away from their ministry.

Look out for people who share your passion!  In 2012 we also started a Member Care Network in Portugal and soon came in contact with others who are passionate about caring for pastors, missionaries, Christian leaders and their families. We are promoting opportunities for physical, emotional and spiritual care for God´s servants as we share our resources and organize retreats for them.

Make your dream known!  The vision of the Intercultural Member Care Center was published on the internet for recruitment purposes and a variety of people from different countries showed interest in the project. Most people though, gave up when they found out the center still had to be created. But a small group of Brazilians, Americans, Portuguese and myself, a German, continued to pray for and talk about it frequently.

Never give up!  The Member Care Portugal team has experienced lots of ups and downs with several changes in the leadership, and more than half of the group experiencing early stages of burnout or other health issues, losses, change of ministry or location, or simply feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of an intercultural team. But, we have continued to practice member care in each of our organizations, tried to be an encouragement to one another, and even held several retreats together

Find your specific “Niche” (role/purpose)!  When I was asked where in the “big dream” I could see myself, it was obvious to me that I would not be the director or business manager. My gifting is in the area of counseling in an informal setting, as well as hospitality in helping people feel at home to start to decompress.

Follow your dream and start small!  While waiting for God to bring together a team and other resources for the Intercultural Member Care Center, some friends encouraged me to find a small house with three guestrooms and helped to get it ready to start using the gifts God has equipped me with. In 2017 We were able to inaugurate “ReCanto da Fonte” on the Silver Coast in Portugal.

Look for what God is already doing!  In 2019 we held a workshop through the Member Care Network with more than 20 people in attendance who were already involved in some kind of hospitality ministry for Gods servants. They serve in various smaller houses spread all over Portugal. It was a great opportunity to connect and share about our experiences. Today we can refer people to each other’s ministries according to the specific needs of each individual and the various services offered in each place.

Re-evaluate the needs!  Knowing there are about 11 houses in Portugal where people can stay, the question was raised if we still need a bigger center here. We believe that there is a reason for God to give this bigger vision to various people from different backgrounds. We need a place for Gods servants to not only rest and be restored, but where they can also experience a loving and caring community within which it is safe to share about their struggles and joys in ministry. Another important aspect is the need for a place to provide training in counseling, interpersonal and intercultural skills, as well as spiritual guidance and disciplines such as silent retreats.

Expect God to do the impossible!  Recently God miraculously brought another family to Portugal to join the team for the Intercultural Member Care Center. They have spent 6 years hoping and preparing to come here and could write a book about “God´s Waiting Room” including chapters about excitement, fundraising, grief and loss, temptation to give up and other personal struggles, hopes, adventures, delays due to Covid 19, goodbyes and wildfires as well as administrational “impossibilities”.

 

God did, God does and God will do the Impossible, including an Intercultural Member Care Center in Portugal.

 

This month’s blog is written by Amrei Wehmeyer, who has been working with DMG interpersonal and TEAM in Portugal since 1991. She is currently leading the Member Care Center ReCanto da Fonte in Lourinhã on the Silver Coast of Portugal.  For more information write to recantodafonte@gmail.com

 

Mentoring as member care

For some years now, I have had the privilege of being a mentor for missionaries. It is already six years since I and my husband ended our own ministry abroad but being a mentor for those who are in active service has kept me involved in a meaningful way.

Mentoring has become more common part of member care provided for new missionaries. The younger generation asks for it, and I will argue that is an important addition to the more practical and formal part of member care provided by sending organizations or churches. We have become more used to communication via online platforms because of travel restrictions. This also makes mentoring from our home location possible. We can reach out to people in any location where there is internet connection.

Mentoring can be defined as a one-on-one relational experience in which one person empowers another person by investing their God-given wisdom and life experience in somebody younger or less experienced. I like to focus more on the God-given gifts and skills of the individual, and to help them see their experiences as an opportunity to grow both personally and spiritually. Depending on the relationship and level of trust, we can come along side and help the individual who is dealing with practical or cultural issues, or we can help them deal with more personal or relational issues.

Some workers are part of well-functioning teams where peer mentoring is happening- even if it is not named like that. In those cases, a mentor may not be needed. But others do not have close co-workers like that. The way we do mission is changing, and these days there are many more cross-cultural workers who have a work- or business visa. Their support structure is different from the traditional missionaries and in those cases an external mentor may be really needed.

The main task of the mentor is to listen and let the other person decide what is on their heart to talk about. The mentor can pick up both what is said directly or indirectly and help them to see more clearly what the issues are about and sometimes bring new perspectives. It is important not do dominate the talk by giving advice or share too much of our own experience.

Every individual is unique, and they usually know best how to handle the situation, but they may need reassurance and emotional support, or sometimes new knowledge or maybe a warning that makes them think again. Most of all, they need somebody who sees their struggles, who cares and can pray with them. The relationship works best if the talks are regular and ongoing. In that way we can see development and growth – or we may sense persisting problems that need attention. Through encouragement and accountability, we can help the mentee to maintain their own spiritual life and to keep up a balanced life of work and rest amid the demands of life.

I believe there are many missionaries who have finished their service abroad that could be engaged in this kind of ministry. Sending organizations can lose out on valuable knowledge and experience, good or bad, if it is not redeemed and shared with new workers. Of course, not everybody will feel confident to do this and it might require some training in mentoring or coaching. There is always something more to learn about themes like cultural differences, personalities, leadership development or handling of relational conflicts. But we do not need to be experts in issues like these as long as we are willing to listen, have a caring and humble attitude and ask questions that allows them to share and reflect about their own situation.

To integrate mentoring well in an established sending body, there must be some structure in place. Expectations and roles need to be clarified, and confidentiality must be kept and honored. A written mandate can be given to the mentor and shared with the mentee.  If the co-operation works well, the cross-cultural worker may have a more fruitful ministry and want to stay longer. Through the experience the mentee will also indirectly learn the importance of mentoring and hopefully be willing to mentor others when the need arises, becoming a link in a 2. Timothy 2:2 chain.

This month’s blog is by Reidun Haugen Dalseth, a returned mission worker living in Norway.

 

 

 

 

Useful tools for listening

Recently on social media, one of my friends wrote, “when it comes time to set the clocks back one hour for daylight savings time, we should all refuse. No one needs one more hour of 2020.”  As I chuckled, I was reminded of the countless people I have debriefed over the last several months who have all said, “I just want this year to be over!”

My wife and I live in Genova, Italy, and have watched our country be overwhelmed by the Corona Virus pandemic. Then came one of the strictest lockdowns in the world that lasted nearly three months. One of the images that many of us in Italy will never forget was watching the convoy of military vehicles in cities like Milano and Roma escort hundreds of caskets of Corona victims to various cathedrals because there was no more room in hospitals.

During those difficult days, my role as a Member Care provider (in quarantine) was to listen and comfort my friends and ministry partners, many of them on the frontlines of the pandemic. One of my friends, a nurse, works in the leading hospital of our region caring for Covid19 patients. He told me repeatedly, “I felt like I had to play God, literally deciding who will and will not receive treatment.” Others had not been home for over two months, even though the hospital is five minutes from their home, out of fear of exposing their families to the virus. All of my friends had at least two things in common: they were exhausted and longing to share their stories.

One of the blessings to come out of this global pandemic for Italians has been the emphasis the government and medical officials have placed on mental health. Rather than seeing debriefing or counseling as something shameful or a sign that something is “wrong,” Italian officials have actively promoted and highlighted the need for people to talk with others about their experiences under Covid-19 and the effects of the virus and lockdown on their mental health. As a result, the Italian government will now pay for mental health sessions, like counseling. And trust me, Italians have been taking advantage and are longing to tell their stories.

In July, I restarted devoting at least one weekend a month to traveling to the central train station of Milano to conduct debriefs with Italian Christians who arrive from all over Italy because they need to share their stories.

My role has been to listen. So often we forget that one of the most important aspects of good Member Care is just being present and allowing those we care for a chance to talk and be heard!

During these times of listening, I have discovered several useful tools:

Prayers of Lament: people are experiencing various forms of loss and grief during these times. Perhaps we have often seen lamenting as being somewhat “overdramatic,” but there is certainly a Biblical premise for crying out to the Lord in the midst of our struggles with raw emotion. While sitting in a prayer meeting with intercultural-workers from around the world, a couple from Canada said how they just loved being in quarantine and how ministry is going great because of the potential to reach more people through online services. This led other missionaries to cry out, “I’m tired of trying to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything is great! Why can’t we just be honest! Nobody likes this! It’s not fun and it’s not all roses!” Again, true, raw emotion!

A local pastor in our now online church service shared these words from Psalm 44:

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.

What powerful and timely words for the current world situation! It is important as Member Care providers that we allow people a chance to cry out, lament, and acknowledge their grief and name their losses.  Prayers of lament in a time of suffering can be an act of worship.

Prayers of Intercession: as Christians we often say things like “I will pray for you” and then simply forget. As I have cared for friends, I spend time in prayer with them specifically asking God to bless them, meet needs, or simply minister in unique ways to each one of them, according to God’s will.

Like many of you, I have at times felt inadequate or even hopeless, confined to my home in quarantine. Yet, I have been reminded that most of the Apostle Paul’s ministry was conducted from the confines of a jail cell. What was arguably the essence of Paul’s ministry? Intercessory prayer for the early Church and the Apostles.

Let’s not forget the power of prayer during this time. Here in Italy we have seen pastors coming together online to pray for our nation and world. Moreover, hundreds of European youth from all over the continent have met online each month in intercessory prayer during this pandemic. God is working!

Sound of Silence: sometimes words fail us, as has been the case in many of my interactions recently while caring for friends. The seconds turn into minutes with no one saying a word, but there is power in remaining silent, taking deep breathes and allowing God to search the heart. Perhaps these difficult times are reminding us to stop and to wait upon the Lord.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8 that we often do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans! Even just sitting and listening to nature during these times can minister to someone really struggling. Let’s not rush to fill the space with words, advice, or other things, but allow silence to speak.

Much of the world continues to suffer not only physically, but especially mentally and financially. As we continue to hold our breathe and hope that 2021 will bring brighter days and an end to the pandemic, may the words of Psalm 126:5 be ever true in this time of waiting: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”

 

Mihai at Milan central station

Mihai Lundell

One Challenge International

Member Care Europe

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