Casual Countdown to Christmas Friday

Dec 15, 2017 | Blog, Casual Friday, Missionary Care, Pre-field, Pre-field, Risk Assessment & Management, Suffering, Transition

We got a little white Christmas teaser this week. Only an inch or so, but it sure was pretty. And a good reminder that things which may be inconvenient may also be an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Carve out a few free moments to dig into this week’s missionary care resources.



Looking for general information about what’s involved in pioneer church planting and how to prepare workers to do it? The folks at Ekballo have just published this beautiful magazine you might be interested in. Twenty-eight pages of free, helpful, thought-provoking material.


Know anyone in the very early stages of preparing for the mission field? Need help finding the right sending organization? If they are thinking of going independently, they might want to consider Mission Quest.




Being a missionary has a lot in common with being an entrepreneur. That means that one of the biggest challenges they face is time – the seeming lack of it. Time management techniques can help, like the ones listed in this article from Shawn Doyle.


Overqualified and woefully unprepared. That’s how Marian Vischer describes her daily life, at times. Many missionaries could echo her sentiments. A better perspective, she says, is found in Coram Deo.

To live coram Deo is to live all of life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and to the glory of God.

I’ll bet you know a missionary or two who would benefit from these words.


Staying steadfast when starting over. It’s not easy, but Phiippa Brooks shares how God helped her and her family to do just that in this podcast over at Taking Route.


Community is such a vital part of life overseas, and yet so difficult to experience at times. Anisha Hopkinson offers 40 ways to build community. Pass these around, will you.


Daniel Pink offers this simple graphic to explain the five secrets to the perfect nap.

In many ways, naps are Zambonis for our brains. They smooth out the nicks, scuffs, and scratches a typical day leaves on our mental ice.

Naps should be part of every missionary’s strategy for self-care. (Yours, too.)


Hurry up and wait. It’s not just the norm in the military. Missionary life can involve perpetual waiting: waiting to develop language proficiency, waiting to discover a person of peace, waiting for responses to the gospel… It’s the kind of deferred hope that can make the heart sick. Joy Smalley talks about how to rest in waiting.




The latest buzzword—for good reason—in missionary care is resiliency. My friend Geoff Whiteman is working on a doctoral dissertation on the topic. Sarita Hartz recently interviewed him for this article.

If we ever want to revolutionize the paradigm of missions then we must tackle this incredibly important issue.

You owe it to yourself, and to the missionaries you love, to educate yourself on this topic.




Transition can be a trying experience. Plenty of challenges that are not always met gracefully. Tim Austin offers some good advice on how to avoid the blame cycle that often accompanies difficult transitions.


For some, returning from the mission field is harder than going ever was.

I’ve seen how that settledness also welcomes me home when my plans change.

If you know someone like that, Dr. Rachel Cason’s article A Return to Settledness may be helpful.




MK retreat, sponsored by Compass Ministries, February 16-18.

Come join us and experience a weekend of deep worship and meaningful connections with your fellow MK/TCKs. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Epworth in St. Simon’s Island.


A unique opportunity offered by SentWell in Malaga, Spain.

Adelante is a holistic assessment, training and coaching experience for workers living and serving cross-culturally, who have been in their current context between 1-5 years.


It’s not too early to start making plans for February. In fact, if you don’t start now, this opportunity may get lost in the holiday shuffle. The annual Midwest Conference on Missionary Care will convene February 23-24 in the Minneapolis area. The topic: The promise and peril of team life. You won’t find a better bargain!



Folks, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Scott has been a key figure in my development as a missionary care provider. You NEED to read the book he has written about the way God uses suffering to transform all of us. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.

I often describe the experience in the following manner: It felt like I had been riding down the road of life with God, and then one day he pulled the car over and told me to get out. So I did. Then he drove off. I looked in every direction and had no idea where I was. All I saw was a barren, featureless terrain I had never been to before. This barrenness went on to the horizon in every direction. I sat down and waited for God to return.


Returning Well: Your Guide to Thriving Back “Home” After Serving Cross-Culturally guides cross-cultural workers of faith, step by step, through the process of a debriefing that leads to renewal so that they may truly thrive back “home.” Consider giving one to every re-entering staff person this year – what a great gift! Buy 10 or more and get a bulk discount. (Thanks, Brigada, for the heads up.)


If you are concerned about anyone headed to what might be considered a dangerous part of the world, this watch list will be useful.


It’s the time of year when everyone seems to be asking for your help. How do you decide who to support? Scott Rodin offers these helpful thoughts on how to navigate the wave of need.




Here’s a radical idea: Use some of your vacation time to go visit a missionary for Christmas. While any time would be a treat for them, it is during the holidays they may feel most alone, as Nancy Mauger relates in this story.


Tami Heim shares some chewy thoughts on the stewardship of self. Want to be a better missionary care provider? Wrap your head around this.


Which do you need more – empathy, or compassion? Invest 20 minutes to read this thought-provoking piece from Farnam Street. What you learn will enhance your care for missionaries.


Here’s something out of the ordinary. It was not written with missionaries or missionary care providers in mind. But it is quite applicable. See if you don’t agree.



May all the joys and blessings of waiting be yours this Advent season. The Kingdom which is “not yet” will soon enough be “now.”


What I’m reading this week:

  • Comfort Ye My People, by Kay Bruner
  • Messianic Christology, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum
  • Those Who Wait, by Tanya Marlow
  • The Emotionally Healthy Woman, by Gerri Scazzero (reading with my wife)
  • Winston S. Churchill: World in Torment: 1916-1922, by Martin Gilbert
  • The Uninvited Companion, by Scott Shaum

Just finished reading:

  • Touching Wonder, by John Blase
  • The Birth, by Gene Edwards
  • Seeker of Stars, by Susan Fish
  • Cosmic Christmas, by Max Lucado
  • The Innkeeper, by John Piper

Up next:

  • Consider Your Calling, by Gordon Smith
  • Emotionally Healthy Leaders, by Peter Scazzero
  • Living Far Away, by Esther Abbott
  • Moving Far Away, by Esther Abbott