It’s been over 20 years since we first considered this idea, 20 years of wondering when and whether the opportunity would come, 20 years of leaning in a direction that felt right, but for which we had no guarantee.
What do you do when a desire of 20 years begins to come true? First, you work through all the details. You dot some i’s, and you cross some t’s.
And then, in my case, you write a blog post.
In the early 90’s, while we were serving in France, our mission agency (now called Converge) established a new position called Pastor to Missionaries. It was the first (and only) role in the Stateside office that ever caught my eye, and I asked our Director to keep me in mind for the future. But I later realized that the travel requirements would be stressful for a family with young children, so I withdrew my request. “Some day,” I thought.
My role in our two American churches since we left France has included many opportunities to care for missionaries, and we have been glad for that. But we always wondered about serving in an agency, hoping that the opportunity would come around again.
A couple of months ago, it came around again. I got a call from my friend Steve Rowe, the current Director of Member Care with Converge, inviting us to join a team of three couples to provide pastoral care to the global family of Converge missionaries. I explained that I love my current role at Heights Church, and it was only worth exploring if I could serve Converge as a volunteer while remaining a pastor at Heights. He was open to that, so we began exploring.
The exploring phase is over, and this week we have been welcomed back into Converge. It feels like coming home.
Our ministry will have three parts, each one significant in its own right.
- We will provide care for the Converge Diaspora workers, who serve in the United States among immigrant communities. It will include a good amount of Skyping and FaceTiming with these folks, and occasional domestic travel during my days off at Heights.
- When my Heights-related international travel takes me to places where Converge has workers, I may be able to extend my stay to be with them. I’m preparing a trip to Japan this December to visit Heights missionaries, and have been invited to also spend an afternoon with the Converge Japan team, talking about Sabbath.
- Murf and I will offer our home as a place of rest and refreshment for Converge workers when they return to the States. This element of the ministry allows us to work together to encourage missionaries, something that we thought was impossible since her accident in 2002 limited her ability to travel. I can’t tell you how excited we are about the hospitality side of this ministry. In fact, we’re beginning to look for a new house that has more room for guests, in order to make our home comfortable for larger families.
We intend to make Sabbath a significant part of our member care. As we began exploring the benefits of Sabbath in 2011, I found myself wondering what our cross-cultural life would have been like if we knew then how to embrace the rest that Jesus promises. We’re eager to encourage our new colleagues to consider that question for themselves, and to provide guidance as the opportunity arises.
The logistics are relatively simple. We will continue to live off my Heights salary, so we don’t need to raise a lot of financial support. We do need to raise funds to cover our travel and hospitality expenses, possibly as much as $20,000 per year. If you’d like to join us in that, please let me know, and I’ll give you the details.
It’s an exciting season! Please celebrate with us as we move forward. And pray that we would qualify for what I think is the greatest compliment in the entire New Testament. Paul said to Philemon, in verse 7 of that short letter, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
That is our goal. We’d be glad for you to join us.
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