Recently, a nurse friend told me what it is like to return "home" after serving several years in the developing world.
On the last Sunday before a missionary departs to the field, she said, people at church load them up with gifts: Hats, mementos, packs of Oreos, Kleenex, stuffed animals for the kids etc.
"They don't need that stuff," she hollered. "Their bags are already overweight. I just got back. I need that stuff!"
When global workers return, they are often starting back from scratch. They need sheets and towels, tupperware, a bed, a car and clothes they can wear to a job interview. Usually they're hustling all that while looking for work, an apartment, health insurance and friends.
Under the weight of all that immediate need, the quieter, emotional issues often lose priority; like when and how they will:
- Grieve people they love whom they may never see again.
- Consider who they are now that they've left the field.
- Admit to crushing loneliness and loss of purpose.
- Address trauma and burnout.
- Rage at how unequally the world's resources are allocated.
- Celebrate the #hardjoy of cross-cultural work.
- Pray through a growing pile of difficult decisions and plans.
Neglecting this stuff, which many global workers do in an effort to "get back to normal," is worse than just a waste, it can become a problem. Most global workers know they could use some supported time out, but the truth is, they often can't afford it.
That's why we started the Intermissionary Scholarship Fund.
This Little-Fund-That-Could has already sponsored one returning missionary at the retreat Chamonix France last June and is sponsoring a second at the upcoming retreat in Colorado - September 16-23rd. Thanks so much to you who've already donated, just by word of mouth.
The full cost of a retreat space in Colorado is $900 - that covers a week of food, housing, materials, group sessions, individual life coaching and this amazing worship night at Red Rocks. We know several people who want be there, but are short the funds. Can you help us help them?
Or are you one of those missionaries with a looming transition, a tight budget and desire to attend Intermissionary in the future. We are starting a list of you. To be considered for a full or partial scholarship to an Intermissionary Retreat, apply here.
We're not magicians at Intermissionary. We don't fix people. We just love them. So we ask questions and hold space. We provide tools and ideas for forward motion. We listen and remind people about the God created them, so they can remember what for.
Another way you can help.
Think about hosting a "Clear The Clutter" event in your neighborhood or church, right as your missionary friends are coming home. Introduce Marie Kondo's approach, gather everybody's giveaway goodies at a BBQ or a church basement, then invite your missionaries and let them "shop." It will help them, help you and be a fun way to gather.