Here's the latest monthly update we emailed:
The last two weeks of March, we had a great visit from Sean and Cathy Marston from New Zealand. Sean is basically “the” candidate department for SIM NZ, as well as speaking for SIM as the “Champion” for youth and young adult ministries. Cathy works for Pioneers mission, and together they co-lead (with other ministers) a home church in Auckland. They seem very much to have their fingers on the pulse of the twenty-something generation and the phenom of global youth culture.
Cathy and Sean led our “first since 2000 only SIM-Liberia (not combined with our region)” Spiritual Life Conference (a team retreat of sorts). Cathy led the spiritual teaching on the “Bread Covenant” and Sean helped us look a little at ourselves as a field. We actually had 9 SIM missionaries, plus 2 teenagers (Max Sacra and Tim Goodnow) plus 2 guys from Germany who are working with ELWA and ECUL from another mission. One day, our 3 staff joined us and on Saturday, their families. It was really a great time together: getting to know each other better, sharing our ideas, thinking more about how we live out our faith in this setting as well as in our private walk with God. One very special time for us was having the team pray for us.
Sean is SIM’s “Champion for Youth and Young Adults” which means he is meant to be a resource person and a hub for interaction about youth ministry and also recruiting young adult missionaries. During the week before our SLC, he met with us and our partners to talk about youth culture and encourage new approaches to youth ministry. It seems like he stirred up some energy in that area. We also talked about being a good field for young adult missionaries, as Liberia has always been popular for short term missions because of all the different ministry possibilities and because English (at least a form of it!) is spoken here. The themes of mentoring and community seemed to keep coming out as what young adults are looking for in a ministry situation.
In the aftermath of Sean and Cathy’s visit (after we picked ourselves up off the floor where we fell in complete exhaustion), we’re trying to move forward in a few key areas. Having so many new missionaries here has mandated that we finally have a cultural orientation program. We know that some information and discussion will help them understand the culture more and deal with their adjustment. I’ve had materials gathered and ideas simmering in my head for awhile, and I just had to get them together and make a plan, so we’re launching that next week. Also, we are looking at our list of “personnel needs” – our ideas about what we’d like missionaries to do – so we can make them more accessible from the SIM website. I want people to be able to “see themselves” as they look at the ways we need people to serve here.
Pray for our new people as they get involved in ministry and make the adjustment to living and working in a cross-cultural situation – some (Tom and Melanie Goodnow, Chris and Andrea Lambert) will only be here a few more months and we know they will feel like they are just becoming effective when it is time to leave. They are having an impact even now: pray that they will be able to see that and be encouraged. Gary and Tammy Dunseath, our new long term missionaries, have finally arrived. Pray especially for Gary as he develops relationships with ECUL leaders and figures out how he can be involved with their ministry.
Thanks for reading, and for praying. I guess you can see our role here continues to change. Never a dull moment when God is leading the way!