The blessing of support ministries!

We’re new field missionaries. We’ve served for the past couple of years as support missionaries on the “homeside”, but now we are serving on the “field” in Taiwan for the next 18 months or so.

As new cross-cultural workers, we are in the midst of transitions. We’re dealing with culture shock, faced with the limited ability to communicate effectively, learning how to manage day-to-day life in a culture and society different to our own.

These last few days, we were faced with a frustrating situation. Sickness. As we struggle with all the challenges of transition, we now need to figure out the medical system of this country. It’s not like going to the supermarket and figuring out what’s fresh milk, soy milk, or yoghurt milk…

After a misdiagnosis yesterday, we contacted our medical advisor (who happens to be in New Zealand) for a second opinion. We were able to get the opinion of a medical profession who understands our home culture and our adopted culture. While Taiwan certainly provides excellent medical care, there are cultural differences which result into slightly different approaches to patient care.

Just the ability to speak to someone who “speaks our language” and understands our situation without getting things lost in translation is a huge relief. As a result, tomorrow we’ll return to the hospital to get one small detail adjusted to see if we can’t get an improved care plan as we deal with sickness in the family.

We’re fortunate we work with an organisation which believes in supporting its workers to enable long-term effectiveness and survival (it’s already hard enough to survive in cross-cultural ministry without the added stress). Our organisation enlists the help of various people with suitable gifts to support its workers. Some of these roles you would find in any typical organisation: finances, HR, IT, etc. Some, however, are unique to the cross-cultural sphere: language & culture, prayer, TCKs, etc.

There’s more which can be said about the importance of support ministries (check out this article). I just wanted to say thank you!

David: a voice of influence

Cover to Cover

Reading: 1 Chronicles 22:2-26:19

Focus: 1 Chronicles 22:11-13

One of the greatest things that a parent can do for their children is to exhort them and bless them in all they set out to do. If there is anything that children will treasure in the years to come, it will be the times when they were loved, supported, uplifted, encouraged and exhorted. Nothing stops you in your tracks, nothing more precious than the memory of the times when your parents gave you their time, attention, and invested into your life.

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Joshua: strong supports…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Joshua 1:1-6:27

Focus: Joshua 1:12-18

A leader is only as good as those who follow him. After all, what good is a leader who has no followers? Kinda pointless to be a leader when no one follows you… What is worse is you succeed a great leader! The pressure of meeting the standard set by the previous leader, not in spite of you, but simply because they were great. It is a greater test of one’s leadership in the line of succession. Even with the full blessing of the previous leader, it does not automatically ensure a successful transition and leadership.

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The hardship of ministry

It seems like forever since my last update, which was only two weeks ago, and the holidays have seemed busier than my normal schedule. I find it ironic, given my exhausting schedule, that this past weekend I ran a seminar about the importance of good ministry practice looking at such issues of teamwork and the need to rest when this last two weeks have been difficult in those areas. The words are echoing in my mind,

“Ministry is hard and we cannot hope to accomplish it alone”

and

“The busier you are, the more critical it is for you to take a day off”

…the irony is not lost in these words as I reflect upon them.

One of the biggest hardships of ministry, especially as a single person, is the loneliness that accompanies it. I have the privilege of working with a great team of people and have support from the leadership that I’m accountable to, however, if you know me well, you will know that the plans that I dream and envision for my ministry are big. The hard thing about things that are big is that there are few people who are able to capture the energy and passion of my dreams and visions. It’s not that people don’t want to, but they can’t see what I see. The journey of sharing one’s dreams and visions takes time and effort before others will capture it also.

It is both a gift and a curse; people will think you are off the planet, off in the clouds, dreaming half the time instead of spending time working hard. If people don’t share the energy and passion for your dreams and visions, then people think your ego has got the best of you and they lose their trust in your ability to work orderly and effectively. On the other hand, when people capture your dreams and visions, you instantly have your own marketing campaign and work team to help see your dreams achieved. It is a long road to walk, but for all the difficulties, the results and rewards are beyond words.

Despite the downcast attitude I seem to have, I’m a firm believer that visionaries must be people of action or recruiters of action-minded people. Dreams and visions are of no value unless they are put to the test and tried in practice. As such, being part of team that trusts me, empowers me and supports me is a blessing that I know is hard to come by. I am grateful for each one of them and any success, naturally all glory to God, is due credit to their hard-working contribution and support.

I don’t paint a very nice picture of what ministry is like, especially at the top end where there is a lot of expectation involved. It’s hard, but as I said earlier before, it’s well worth it. For me, to see people grow in their relationship with God, to see them grow in their potential to achieve great things, to see them get a glimpse of the things of heaven, to see people grasp what life holds for them – that is worth the hardship, the loneliness, the battles and the tears. Just for a single person, it’s all worth it.