Casual Advent Season Friday

Nov 30, 2018 | Blog, Casual Friday

Well, Advent is upon us. I think every year it becomes more meaningful to me. I still have bittersweet memories of our first Christmas on the mission field. During this season, when we are susceptible to being caught up in the frantic activities (and many of them are delightful), don’t forget those who are representing the Immanuel we celebrate this time of year. They could use a little extra encouragement. Perhaps these resources will give you some ideas.



What defines success on the mission field? If you endeavor to help your missionary friends to be successful, what does that mean for them?

If fruitfulness as a measure of ministry success is replaced with the spiritual vitality of the minister, I don’t find that very encouraging at all!

Tamie Davis offers a balanced view on the subject—one which includes both fruitfulness and faithfulness.


In an American cultural setting, when you ask someone how it’s going, you are likely to hear something along the line of, “Oh, I’m staying busy.” As if busy were some kind of merit badge! It is the bane of mission work. The kissing cousin of business is boredom, and boredom is more prevalent on the mission field than you’d likely guess. Jim Dethmer addresses both sides of that coin in this thought-provoking piece.


One of the indicators of possible burnout is irregular sleep patterns. Often they are the result of stress that has not been mitigated. The mission field can provide all kinds of reasons for not sleeping well, but how is a person enabled to get adequate sleep? Jennilee Goodwin suggests using Psalm 4—in particular a study of it—to overcome the barriers to satisfying and effective sleep. Oh, and don’t miss the links at the bottom of the post. They offer further insight on this topic.


Sometimes the lack of sleep is a choice. Not a good one, usually, but a purposeful decision nonetheless. For whatever reason, missionaries often do not give themselves permission to sleep, to rest. Kirstin Tatagiri has something to say about that. Maybe someone you know needs to hear it?


Michelle DeRusha talks about the critical importance of separating what we are from what we do. This holds true for global workers, too. It is impossible to be spiritually healthy without a proper understanding of who we are. You probably know a missionary or two who would benefit from this reminder.


Rest is not the absence of work, it’s the presence of the King. I love the title of this piece by veteran missionary Elizabeth Trotter. I love even more what she has to say about working from a place of rest, as opposed to resting in order to work. I’d be willing to bet that most of the missionaries you know would benefit from this post.


Ruth Haley Barton has some great words to share about Sabbath. We all can benefit from these thoughts. Forward them to everyone you know.


All of those first-time experiences in your host country? They will eventually evaporate. Those language-learning faux pas? Forgotten. Those awkward moments (hours) of developing relationships with limited language ability, or the embarrassing mistakes made while trying to navigate in a new place? Gone. Tucked in among all of those are experiences that should be savored. Moments that can be looked back on with joy. Laura Bowling’ s admonition should be taken to heart by every global worker.


This is the time of year many missionaries wax nostalgic and struggle to keep homesickness at bay. The sights, the sounds, the aromas and flavors of Christmas past can drag them toward depression. The things they savor as treasured memories must make room for new experiences, as Lisa O’Brien explains in this post. How might you be able to come alongside your friends out there on the field who could use a new perspective?



The early phases of transition to a new country (aka culture shock) can lead some missionaries to believe that a quick trip “home” for the holidays would be just the ticket to help them feel better.

But home doesn’t live in the dip.

Most of the time it won’t. Jerry Jones explains it well, in his usual humorous way. Perhaps you know someone (if it’s not too late) who should hear this advice.



Capable of complexity. That what adult TCK Marilyn Gardner says every MK/TCK needs to be. She explains why in this piece.



Far too many missionaries are driven by shame, and many more suffer from its effect on their ministry. Potter’s Inn is sponsoring a one-day seminar by Dr. Curt Thompson, author of The Soul of Shame, January 25, in Colorado Springs. You may be interested in expanding your understanding of this topic and learning ways to deal with it.


The folks at Thrive have opened registration for their July, 2019 women’s retreat in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Who could you host for the exceptional deal? Want to volunteer to help at the retreat? There’s opportunity for that, too (scroll down a bit on the page).



Go-ers and senders are partners. Both are a necessary part of teams that expand the kingdom of God. And both have trouble understanding each other at times. Jerry Jones explains that in terms of bricks and pillars. His humorous article will help you understand one another better, whichever side of the equation you’re on.


A while back I linked to Andrea Sears’ research project on missionary care issues. I promised to let you know when she posted the next batch of data, so here it is. This is all related to marital status.

Both missionaries and mission agencies should be aware of the extra support their families will need to weather stressors well.

How might you, as a missionary advocate, be able to help missionaries and missionary candidates to prepare for the stressors they will face on the field?


Want to know how you and your church can better care for those you send out? This issue of Postings from Catalyst Services is full of helpful ideas that you can implement immediately.


When you get ready to plan your trip to go visit your missionaries on the field, check out these travel hacks and tips from Bookmundi. Everything from finding the cheapest flights to how to pack efficiently and navigating airports. I bet you’ll find several ideas you can use.


From time to time I’ve linked to resources from the folks at the Upstream Collective. Here’s a reminder to check out their latest offerings to equip you and your church to send well.



Missionaries are not immune to mental health problems, or even to substance abuse. How do you know if the missionary you care about is suffering from these? Mental Health First Aid USA wants everyone to be equipped to recognize and respond to this challenge. (Note: This is in no way meant to be an alternative to professional help. But early detection can go a long way toward preventing the damage that comes from unaddressed issues.)


Well, that should be enough for this week. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. And thank you even more for taking the trouble to connect with these resources and use them for the sake of the missionaries you love.


New on my bookshelf:

  • Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, by Ruth Haley Barton
  • The Lost World of Genesis One, by John Walton
  • Crafting a Rule of Life, by Steve Macchia
  • The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith
  • All Stressed Up and Everywhere to God! by Gaylyn and Ken Williams
  • The Sacred Echo: Hearing God’s Voice in Every Area of Your Life, by Margaret Feinberg

What I’m reading this week:

  • The Greatest Christmas Stories of All Time, by various authors
  • Dragging Baggage: A Guide for Those Struggling on the Mission Field, by Alice Young
  • Inspired: Slaying giants, walking on water, and loving the Bible again, by Rachel Evans
  • Formed for the Glory of God, by Kyle Strobel

Recently finished reading:

  • Winston Churchill: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939, by Martin Gilbert
  • Autumn: A Spiritual Biography, Schmidt & Felch, eds.
  • Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race, by Benjamin Watson
  • The Garlic Ballads, by Mo Yan
  • Receiving Sent Ones During Re-entry, by Zach Bradley

Up next:

  • The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns
  • Receiving Them Well, by Lisa Ennis & Lori Bryan
  • Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith