I love this Feast, because the juxtaposition so perfectly mirrors the ups and downs of the path of faith. Peter, James, and John witness the Glory of God—they see Jesus radiating and speaking with heroes of their faith. They even hear the audible voice of God! On the path of faith we sometimes have Mount Tabor moments and, like Peter (who according to St. Mark didn’t know what to say), we think, “This is good, let’s set up camp and linger here.” But that’s not God’s plan.
I can't wait to share with you two of our dreams for 2019 and how you can be involved. But first, here are the details to our St. Herman Webinar.
Each year we host a webinar out of gratitude for the many ways that you support the wellbeing of missionaries through your support of us. This year, I'll be sharing the 3 Supportive Relationships that were key findings from my multi-year research into missionary resiliency as well as the “1+5 P’s” framework I use to be a supportive presence in the lives of missionaries. I believe this will be edifying, applicable, and add value to your life today.
Now, without further ado, our 2019 dreams...
Drum roll please...
If God wills, we'll spend the spring 'ministry sitting' in Corfu, Greece! Amazing, right!?! I can hardly believe it myself!
We met Matt and Cindy Wright a year ago, when a handful of generous supporters made it possible for us to speak at a missionary conference in Montenegro. The Wrights run a pastoral care/retreat center for missionaries out of their home and have asked if we could “ministry sit” for them while they return to the states for the birth of their 1st grandchild.
The few days that we've spent in the field and face to face with our missionaries have been some of the most rich and rewarding of our entire work in missionary care. So, the opportunity to be able to offer our missionaries a 4-day retreat is a real answer to prayer. We'll be able to customize each retreat to address needs around resiliency in ministry, strengthening marriage and family bonds, and getting much needed R&R. We'll offer these first to the missionaries in our organization, and then to other missionaries in the area. We'd also love to spend some of this time developing the first deliverables based on the research on missionary resiliency.
After 12 nonstop years of ministry and education, we are also looking forward to a change of pace and finding a rhythm of life that can sustain us during these delightful elementary school years of family life. Because this is so unexpected, we also realize that we will be spending much of each day saying "Yes" to whatever and whoever God brings our way--we simply don't know how God will use this time for our good and the good of those we will meet.
On a personal level, Kriss and I were 'called' into missions as children, and we can't wait to see how this time expands Packy’s view of the world and his role in it (he turns 7 on Christmas Eve). I'm having bariatric surgery in January, and this will provide a critical time of adjusting to my new relationship with food. Ultimately, this is a time to listen--we're moving into a new season of life and we are grateful to be granted an opportunity to really listen to our own hearts, to each other, and to God's still, quiet voice.
But wait—there's more...
Our other big dream for 2019 isn't officially approved, but I want you to know what we are hoping for. If God wills it, our role at OCMC could be expanding in the future. OCMC is continually seeking to improve the quality and quantity of training and Continuing Ed that it offers to its missionaries. Through her PhD in Intercultural Studies, Kriss has gained some real expertise and teaching experience in Missiology. She would love to put this to use on behalf of our missionaries. She has put together an amazing outline for a syllabus that uses 4 questions to cover the core topics every missionary needs to understand.
What is God's Mission in the World? (Biblical, Liturgical, & Patristic Mission Theology)
What is happening in the World? (Postmodernism, Globalization, Urbanization, Migration, and other trends shaping our world + Anthropology)
How is the Church joining in God's Mission? (Wholistic Mission, Evangelism, Transformational Development, Contextualization, Church Planting Movements, etc.)
How can I join in God's Mission? (Calling, Practical skills for ministry like how to study a context (Ethnography) and develop a ministry plan, etc.)
Since you've probably never been blessed to hear Kriss teach, check out this 10-minute presentation she gave on an Orthodox Liturgical Theology of Mission earlier this fall (to hear just her presentation, skip ahead to 41:42).
I'm excited about how Kriss is going to develop this master's level course as an online-cohort model that missionary applicants can complete during the six months between the Evaluation Retreat and New Candidate Orientation. We're also excited about developing a one-day workshop version that can be offered in parishes.
Would you join us in praying for these 2019 ministry dreams?
Pray that the details for our move to Corfu would fall into place, and that we'd be sensitive to however God desires to use this time both in and through us. Pray especially for Packy and his needs during this time.
Pray for our evolving role with OCMC. Pray for all the details to fall into place in God's timing so that this can be fruitful for OCMC, for our missionaries, and for us.
Pray especially for our health. Kriss' Crohn's disease has been flaring up much of this year, and I'm preparing for major surgery (bariatric) in January.
Before we can move to Corfu, and before Kriss can develop this course, we'll need to first raise about $2,000 in regular monthly support.
I have a letter coming your way next week (if you've never gotten a letter from me, just reply back with your best address and I'll be sure to drop one in the mail to you). I'll share the story of Jack and Jill, a couple I've been walking with for several years thanks to your support. I'll share in more detail what's really involved in becoming a missionary--you are going to be amazed at the dedication it takes just to get to the field! I'm going to share exactly how I support missionaries through this process. And I'm going to share exactly how you can invest in bringing these dreams for 2019 into reality.
But first, let me know if you can make the webinar tomorrow.
Last month when I was at OCAMPR, a young lady introduced herself,
“Are you Geoff? I’m Moriah, and I’ve been wanting to meet you! I heard you do missionary care, and that’s exactly what I want to do!” It was so meaningful to realized that our work is blazing a trail that others, like Marina, can envision themselves on. How cool is that!
As I’ve been reflecting on 2018, a refrain from an old hymn, keeps coming to mind.
A lot has happened in 2018—far more than I could have even imagined a year ago.The biggest milestones include:
completing the requirements for a second degree ending eight years of study!
1,000th client contact hour needed to be licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Kriss taking her qualifying exams (as you read this email)--she’s been reading a book a day for six months to prepare.
Receiving a competitive grant and hiring a research team to help analysis my multi year research project on missionary resiliency.
There’s been a lot of momentum with missionary care with OCMC too. The most significant was the invitation to share at the OCMC board meeting in November.
I’ll send another email next week sharing about doors that are opening in 2019 and how you can get involved. When I began working at OCMC 12 years ago, I never imagined sharing the dreams I’m going to be sharing with you next week!
I want to end with a sincere thank you. We couldn’t have done this year without the support of others. Some of that support has been simple—a short prayer, a quick reply to an email, a sincere question about how we’re doing. Some of it has been significant—a number of donors have given faithfully to make this ministry dream a reality (2018 was the first year I didn’t need to take any payroll reductions/cuts from lack of funds!).
Whatever you’ve done, be it sacrificial or simple, I’m grateful.You’ve helped to blaze a trail that I couldn’t have even imagined was a possibility a year ago. I can’t wait to tell you more about this next week.
Our St. Herman Webinar will be next Thursday (12/13) at 12:00 (EST).
the three key relationships for missionary resiliency that I found in the research. The third one was a real surprise.
my 1+5 Ps framework for helping missionaries—which you can use to help someone in your life today.
I’ll also answer your questions about missionary care.
What are your 1 or 2 biggest questions about our ministry?
Here’s a bit of what’s been happening since our last update and a look at what’s happening next:
In May I graduated from Asbury Seminary with a ThM in World Mission and Evangelism. My grandfather went to Asbury on the G.I. bill in the late 40’s, and my father taught here for over two decades. So, it was a special day to share with family and friends. However, since I’m still wrapping up my thesis, my day-to-day routine didn’t change much, and on Monday I went back to my office and picked up where I left off on Friday. :) More on that in a moment…
God is at work drawing missionaries to participate in His Mission! Thomas and Elizabeth Manual are new candidates preparing to head to Guatemala were Jesus Christ is drawing whole communities of Mayans into His Holy Church. We met a year ago at OCMCs Evaluation Retreat (ER) for applicants. Last week, I met the six participants in the first ER of 2018. I can’t help but wonder who among them I will introduce you to next year as new candidates?
I want to tell you about a special webinar I’m hosting for you next week and update you on our Nativity Appeal. But first, Blessed Feast of St. Nicholas! (here is a picture I took of St. Nicholas’ tomb when I passed through Bari, Italy on my way to Albania last January).
I have a small gift and a big ask to talk with you about. First the gift. Enclosed you’ll find a small icon and a handmade ornament. We got them for you when we visited Albania in October.
The icon came from the Resurrection of Christ Cathedral in Tirana. That’s the heart of missions—proclaiming in word and deed that Christ has destroyed the power of death! The ornament in its own way proclaims the same message. It’s made by an Albanian woman living in subsistence. She was paid a living wage for her handicraft by a missionary. That act conveys great love as it gives her hope and honors her dignity.
I want to share a little of how this trip came to be, what happened, and reflect on a few themes I hope will encourage you. You can see more photos at bit.ly/Montenegro-Ministry-Trip
In January 2017, I traveled to England for a class on Church Planting in an Urban Context. I extended the trip to visit our missionaries in Albania. In preparation, I posted to a missionary care Facebook group, hoping I might make a few connections for our missionaries. I got a message from Ton Vegt—a Dutchmen passionate about missionary care in Albania.
I wanted to share a quick update on the 3rd quarter as well as our ministry plans between now and the end of the year.
In August, I was blessed to participate in the New Candidate Orientation at OCMC. There are times when the prayers of others feels like wind in your sails—this was one of those times! It was a long week for me personally—I participated in all the training, helped lead a fair amount of it, and was present in the “down time” to connect with our new missionary candidates
In prepping for my trip to visit our missionaries in January I researched missionary care resources in Albania to connect them with, because I believe with the very marrow in my bones that missionary care belongs to the whole church facilitated by a few with that unique calling.
Through that research I meet Ton Vogt and learned of the Albanian Encouragement Project. Then a few months ago, Ton reached out and invited me to the AEP annual missionary conference in Montenegro (October 12-23)