As usual, this e-Pistle has plenty of information, so I’m going to keep my opening short. I do want to remind you that I think of you often. It was great getting to see several of you at the CMDE conference in Greece. I wish I could have stayed the entire time so that I could have met even more. I want to send a special thank you to all who took the time to sit and talk about ways I can be of service to you and your ministry. I’ve talked with Dave Stevens about most of them, but our schedules make it difficult to find an extended time to sit and discuss.
I am hard at work preparing for our two pre-field orientation courses for new medical missionaries. We hold the first conference from July 31 - August 3 and the second from August 14-17. We still have a few spaces at the second conference if you know anyone who will soon be heading to the field. Please be sure to let them know about this opportunity. They can contact me at email@example.com.
I am also getting things lined up for our Medical Mission Summit which will take place on September 4-5. We will be discussing mental health of medical missionaries and also discussing the findings of MedSend’s surveys sent to recipients of their grants as well as their associate sending agencies. I’m excited about learning as much as possible from these studies. If your mission agency has not participated in the past, they would be welcome. Just let me know and I will send an invitation to the appropriate person.
If I can be of service to you or your ministry, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Included in this newsletter are:
Cura Animarum by Rev. Stan Key
Thing You Should Know
Baptist Healthcare Convention
Tips for Repatriating
World Magazine Offer
Christian Hospitality Network's GetAway
Getting Along by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
Voice Recognition by Judy Palpant
Rejection and Betrayal by Dr. Ron Koteskey
by Rev. Stan Key
The Church: Asset of Hindrance to World Evangelization?"
"...that they may all be one...so that the world may believe..." (John 17:21, ESV).
Jesus told His followers to make disciples of all nations. The mandate was nothing less than a call to change the world. But how? Most who try to answer this question focus on methods and strategies. This is well and good. But in all our talk of methods, let’s not overlook what is perhaps our most effective tool for reaching the lost. I’m talking about the church, the body of Christ, the community of faith.
In the book of Acts, it wasn’t just the gospel message that drew men and women to Christ. It was the fellowship of believers that offered inhabitants of the Roman Empire an alternative community, the likes of which they had never seen. The family of God transcended barriers of race, class, gender, age and education. It existed not for its own sake, but for the sake of those who did not belong! This had enormous appeal to those living in a world where alienation and loneliness often defined human existence. It spoke powerfully to a culture that was marked by divisions based on ethnicity, economics, social status and politics.
Written early in the 2nd century, the anonymous Epistle to Diognetus is the reply to a pagan’s request for more information about the Christian faith. The author speaks of the irrationality of idolatry and outlines basic Christian doctrines, but it is when he speaks of the community of the church that he makes his strongest case for the gospel.
The difference between Christians and the rest of mankind is not a matter of nationality, or language, or customs.... They conform to ordinary local usage in their clothing, diet, and other habits. Nevertheless, the organization of their community does exhibit some features that are remarkable, and even surprising. For instance, though they are residents at home in their own countries, their behavior there is more like that of transients.... For them, any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country. Like other men, they marry and have children, though they do not expose (kill) their infants. Any Christian is free to share his neighbor’s table, but never his marriage-bed. They show love to all men and all men persecute them. They are misunderstood and condemned.... They are poor, yet making many rich; lacking all things, yet having all things in abundance. They are dishonored, yet made glorious in their very dishonor; slandered, yet vindicated. They repay calumny with blessings, and abuse with courtesy. For the good they do, they suffer stripes as evildoers; and under the strokes they rejoice like men given new life.
No evangelistic strategy for changing the world is more pregnant with possibilities than the mere fact of the existence of the true church of Jesus Christ! This was true in the 2nd century and it is equally true today. The question is not whether the church is a factor in world evangelization. Rather the question is: Does our communal life help or hinder the advance of the gospel?
Things You Should Know
Baptist Healthcare Convention
MedAdvance 2014 will take place July 17-19 at the International Learning Center in Rockville, Virginia. Program highlights: See God’s work around the world through healthcare practitioners; weigh in on strategies to spawn church-planting movements; network with professionals based in the U.S. and overseas; explore opportunities to serve; and learn how to lead medical teams. Learn more and register for the conference at www.regonline.com/MedAdvance2014.
Dr. Bruce Steffes (Executive Director of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons) has made us aware of a resource that you might find very useful. You will find free books, online resources and training modules.
Tips for Repatriating
Leaving Well: 10 Tips for Repatriating with Dignity
Landing Well: 10 More Tips for Repatriating with Dignity
Staying Well: 10 Tips for Expats Who are Left Behind
World Magazine Offer
World Magazine donors have made it possible to provide a digital-only membership for $5 per year to all full-time missionaries whose income is ministry dependent. WORLD makes no money on this service, which normally costs more than $35 a year. Their heart is to provide missionaries with meaningful news reported from a biblical perspective.
Please note that these digital-only memberships provide access to everything in the printed magazine, through wng.org—and soon through all new mobile apps, as well as free access to their daily and weekly radio programs, “The World and Everything In It” and “Listening In.”
To sign up, go to wng.org/missions. On this landing page, you will see a simple form to enter your information and use a credit card to pay for the membership. You do not need an offer code or promo code. This offer is based on an honor system so please do not share outside the missionary world.
Christian Hospitality Network's 2014 Missionary GetAway
An international project of CHN is the annual GetAway, started in 2002. It is their way of taking hospitality directly to the field to serve those on the "front lines." After securing a luxury hotel, they invite workers—as many as 300—to come for four days and three nights of rest and relaxation at no cost to them other than transportation to the venue and a few out-of pocket expenses. CHN covers the lodging, breakfasts and dinners. There are no seminars to attend, no offers to purchase anything and no obligation for ongoing involvement with CHN. This truly is a gift to the workers.
The GetAway doesn't have a formal agenda. The Hospitality Team does include a group of medical doctors, a chiropractor, medical massage therapist, financial planner and various counselors, all who make their services available at no charge. A Music Team also goes along as an optional gathering in English is offered each evening.
The purpose is to carry a message from the followers in America to workers abroad, reminding them that they are not forgotten. They appreciate the work these workers do and the sacrifices they make. Previous GetAways have been held in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Ghana, West Africa; Budapest, Hungary; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Phuket, Thailand; Mellieha Bay, Malta; Foz do Iguacu, Brazil; Kusadasi, Turkiye; Limuru, Kenya; Kerala, India, Split, Croatia, Lima, Peru and most recently, Lisbon Portugal. (If you would like references for CHN, they will be glad to provide those.)
General Criteria for Extending Invitation
Next GetAway will be in Chiang Mai, Thailand from October 27-30 at the Horizon Village & Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
If you believe you qualify based on the above criteria and it is possible for you to get to Chiang Mai, please let Kathy at CHN know of your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.thechn.org. The deadline is August 1, 2014.
by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
"Getting along" with your fellow missionary and national co-workers doesn't happen by chance. It takes work and planning. It is easy to think, "Well, we are all Christians so if we just love God enough, we won't have problems."
If your personality doesn’t mesh with a co-worker in your home country, you don’t spend time together outside the workplace and you simply tolerate them at work where you are each focused on your job anyway.
On the mission field, especially on a compound, that doesn’t work. You are totally interdependent in your work, living, vacations and even worship. Irritation with someone can easily grow into anger and anger into bitterness. That is why "getting along" is so important.
First, remember God created and called everyone in your team to serve together. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 commands, "...live in peace with each other" (NIV 2011). He didn’t bring "that person" into your life to make your life miserable, as much as it may seem like it some days! He put your group together and is more interested than you are in your team living in synergy and harmony. In most instances, that is possible if you move forward with purpose.
Secondly, He commands in Matthew 15:12, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (ESV). Love isn’t an option based on your feelings and likes. Christ didn’t start loving us when we met certain standards or became likable. Love is a choice that is then acted upon in word and deed. You can’t control feelings, but you can act upon your choice to love. Then the feelings follow.
Thirdly, purify your heart of your irritation, anger or bitterness. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says, "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else" (NIV 2011). Also, 1 Peter 1:22 tells you of the depth of forgiveness needed, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other (and act of the will), love one another deeply, from the heart (the emotions follow)" (NIV 2011). Ask God to forgive you and create in you a pure heart in both your thoughts and emotions. Then you can truly love deeply. Walking around with that proverbial "chip on your shoulder" results in you being hyper-sensitized. You interpret every word and action of the person that irritates you in the most critical way. The smallest thing, like a bee sting, can result in an emotional anaphylactic reaction!
(There is a lot more on this issue in the chapter on "Conflict Resolution" in Beyond Medicine: What Else You Need to Know to Be a Healthcare Missionary available at www.shopcmda.org.)
I’ve previously shared practical techniques to apply in conflict resolution, but if people keep falling off a cliff, it is much better to build a fence at its edge than park ambulances at the bottom! What can you and your colleagues do to prophylactically "Get Along" better? Let’s turn to how you can prevent problems by building esprit de corp in some practical and enjoyable ways.
Support Your Leadership – "Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you" (1 Thessalonians 5:12, NIV 2011).
Leading is tough work. If you are the leader at your service point, you know that. It can be lonely carrying the burden of responsibility. It is often tough dealing with a herd of missionary "cats" who are highly independent and wanting to head in different directions. Intervening in conflicts is draining, and the list goes on. Help where you can. Give respect always. Express your appreciation often. Don’t criticize their decisions behind their backs but strive to support unity. Be a cat that is easy to herd!
Bear Each Other’s Burdens – "...encourage the disheartened..." (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV 2011).
Get to know each other more deeply through organized share and prayer times. Work hard to make these intimate by keeping your group small enough and sharing at an intimate level. Sometimes, focused questions to discuss before prayer can pry open the doors to a deeper plane. "What makes you anxious?" "What is your greatest fear?" "If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?" "What concerns do you have about your future?" Pray not just for prayer concerns (Aunt Milli has gout), but pray for each other’s deeper concerns.
Deal with Issues – "...warn those who are idle and disruptive..." (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV 2011).
Make an effort to intervene early when issues are small. It is easy to deal with a skin cancer when it is small, but if you allow it to get large, the surgery is going to be disfiguring and painful while also requiring extensive follow-up. This is true when dealing with fellow missionaries who are not carrying their share of the load. That cancer grows quickly into huge resentment. The same is true of someone who is disruptive, especially if you are in a leadership position and have a duty, for the good of everyone, to deal with that person. It is not easy to confront a colleague, but I often begin that conversation by searching for the underlying cause. Disruptive behavior is often a symptom of undealt with anger or other issues. Just telling someone to stop causing problems isn’t going to solve it. Like getting rid of wild onions in your yard, you have to pull it out by its roots.
Depressurize – "...encourage the disheartened..." (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV 2011).
Healthcare missions is serious business—dying children, emergencies, inadequate staffing, funding problems, cross-cultural barriers, security issues and much more. Encouragement is needed for the disheartened. It can be done through sharing verses about God’s faithfulness. Helping to ease someone’s heavy load by reducing or even picking up some of their responsibilities can be a great help in specific situations. But every one of these stresses that overinflate the balloons of our lives can be reduced by regular depressurizing activities. Here are some ideas.
1. Focus on having fun and creating belly laughs. You may want to schedule a game night on the weekends and rotate it around to different homes. Have light snacks, play board games or, better yet, get everyone involved in a group activity. One idea is to play your own versions of TV game shows. We’ve done many of these at CMDA like Hollywood Squares where nine people were handed a bag with a costume in it and had to immediately be that character during the game. We’ve played Let’s Make a Deal, A Minute to Win It and many more. You can find the 60 most popular game shows with a simple search online. You want to generate laughter, so the crazier the idea, the more fun you will have. If you are the leader, be willing to be the brunt of the jokes and don’t forget to laugh at yourself! Include a good mix of those who are eager to have fun with those who hate to be in front of people. The mix is hilarious.
2. Don’t get in a rut. Mix it up. I remember we had a hilariously fun evening when a missionary colleague returned from home assignment with a whole slide presentation of views of a supermarket. We laughed about the three cereals we had versus the hundred or so on the supermarket shelf, talked about our favorite foods and “oohed and “awed” over things we would like to eat. The jokes flew with lots of laughs.
3. How about a progressive play totally unrehearsed? Just hand out the parts and the costumes. We did this at a Christmas party after downloading the play’s manuscript online.
4. Do some of these things in the workplace as well to celebrate a holiday or during the usual slow time in your health ministry. Theme the party when you can, and do the unusual. Ask people to create their own costumes. Find music that goes along with the theme. It will draw people together and they will have as much fun telling other people about it as when it actually happened. We’ve had 1950s parties, western parties, formal tea parties, Scottish parties and many more. Just do something that fits your situation and those who will be attending.
Bless Those Who Irritate You – "...help the weak..." (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV 2011).
Look for a way to meet a need for a person who irritates you. Keep their pet when they go on a trip, help them with a household project or throw them a party on their birthday or anniversary. It is easy to give of yourself to those you like, but giving of yourself for those who upset you will change them and it will change you!
Missionaries live in a pressure cooker. Those types of pots must have a pressure release valve or you are going to have spinach on the ceiling! Avoiding blowups as God commands us as part of His “family” is a much better strategy than cleaning up a much bigger mess. With diligence and intention, you can help everyone to "get along."
by Judy Palpant
To hear Thee: only the terrified heart may truly listen...-Rachel Korn, holocaust survivor in her poem, "Keep Hidden from Me"
"Don't go to Africa," they said to us. "You'll never see your husband. He'll be consumed by constant medical needs." "Your children will be at risk of getting malaria." "Why go to Africa when problems are all around us here in the U.S.A.?"
"One or two years in Africa will look good on your resume," others told my husband Sam, "but if you stay longer, you'll be committing professional suicide."
"Ah," some Africans said when we arrived in Kenya, "You were placed in this remote hospital because you couldn't make it at home. Now you are taking one of our African jobs. Why not just send us all the money it costs for you to come and live here? We could do so much with it. You didn't have to come."
As if to confirm their prophecies, on the first Father's Day our kids never laid eyes on their dad. He arrived home after their bedtime-weary-worn and heart-sick from trying to save the children of other fathers. Our own 2-year-old daughter developed malaria within the first month in Lugulu. The rumor mill churned as neighbors and hospital staff speculated about how long we would stay. As for professional suicide? The mission hospital lab boasted one primitive monocular microscope and a hand cranked centrifuge. It mocked Sam's infectious disease and tropical medicine training.
With these tribulations, our own misgivings grew louder, more persistent: "Why did we come half-way around the world? Are we doomed? We arrived in a time of famine. No other white family lives for 30 minutes in any direction. How will we survive?"
One night, taking advantage of the three hours of electricity afforded us by the hospital generator, I ironed while Sam read aloud from Scripture.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:2-5, NIV 1984).
"Wait a minute!" I said, snapping to attention and setting the iron down. "Does it really say that?"
I'd memorized this familiar passage as a youth and heard numerous sermons on the topic. But on this night in rural East Africa, I recognized my Shepherd's calming, convicting voice. My heart bowed in gratitude. The following day I baked a cake. We sang "O Thank You Lord" before eating and celebrating God's faithfulness.
Now decades later, in my changed circumstances caring for my mother, others' conflicting voices resound in my ears. They loop round and round in my mind: "I could never do what you are doing." "You're lucky to have your mom." "You've got to draw boundaries." "Treasure every minute you have with her."
My antennae pick up every word, every nuance. The positives challenge me. The negatives nag my heart and dog my feet.
"When transitioning to different circumstances or cultures, it's hard to find Jesus," says author and professor Jerry Sittser. "Who is he in this setting? Rediscover him by choosing one gospel. Read it over and over again for the first six months. Let your daily experiences inform your reading."
The gospel of Mark is my choice in this new era of my life. Through Jesus' parables and stories, His Spirit unstops my ears and calls me to live and grow in faith. The message I heard today in chapter 4: "In charting unfamiliar waters, whether stormy or serene, rest with me. My presence in your boat is enough."
Rejection and Betrayal
by Dr. Ron Koteskey
After more than 20 years of successfully supervising residents, Bill was finishing the final group for the year. He handed out the hospital’s evaluation form to the six residents in the class and left the room while they filled out the forms.
When the director handed out the evaluation results summary, Bill found that five of the six residents had given him the lowest possible ratings on everything, said that he did not know how to teach, that he should not be allowed to supervise until he took a course about teaching and so forth.
Bill was devastated because he had advised these residents for three years, and they had often been in his home. He developed a fear of what else other residents might say, prayed for God to protect him from his residents and finally quit supervising a few years later to devote himself to member care.
Bill knew that Isaiah had said that Jesus would be “despised and rejected” by people (Isaiah 53). He knew John had said that “his own did not receive him,” that Judas “betrayed him” and that the people he came to save shouted “crucify him” (John 1, 18 and 19). All of that was necessary for Jesus to die for people’s sins, but Bill did not think it would happen to him as he came to spread the good news of salvation and to give food to the hungry. Does this happen to others? Who does it? Why do they do it? What can the “victim” do?
How often does this happen?
Only God knows. Such rejection and betrayal often leads to feelings of inadequacy and failure which few people discuss openly. Although there appears to be no research on this topic for missionaries, research in the 1990s on pastors who read Christianity Today, Leadership and Your Church magazines found that about a quarter of the pastors had been terminated or forced to resign by their church—and a quarter of those had experienced it more than once. In addition, a third of all the pastors said the pastor serving before them had been forced out—and a third of those forced out left the ministry for good. Clearly, the rejection of Christian workers is not rare.
Were cross-cultural workers in the Bible rejected and betrayed?
Of course they were! The Bible contains many examples, but here are just a few from the life of Moses in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament.
Moses had been sent by God to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). Here are a few of the problems he faced.
As noted above, a wide variety of things can occur, ranging from “talking against” people to killing them. In addition, today’s technology makes many new things possible.
There seems to be virtually no limit to how rejection and betrayal can occur.
Who does it?
Only people who have personal relationships can betray missionaries, just as Judas, a trusted disciple, betrayed Jesus. In “Why,” a song about this event, Michael Card says, “Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain, and only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.” Usually the deeper the relationship, the greater is the devastation of the betrayal. Here are some examples.
Why do they do it?
Sin is at the root, but it may be expressed in a variety of forms as we can see in the following examples from the Bible and modern missionaries.
What can one do?
“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” is a common saying that is relevant here. Keeping good relationships with people is always important, but it is especially so in a culture that emphasizes such relationships. Missionaries must not become so task-oriented that they neglect meeting social needs. Missionaries rejected or betrayed by those they serve can do the following.
Finally, remember that God used Judas’ money-making betrayal combined with Jesus’ obedient submission to save a sinful world.
For other topics please visit www.missionarycare.com. Also please let your non-medical colleagues know about these free resources.
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