This podcast with the guys from Global Missions Podcast was recorded years ago (aka last month) in Phnom Penh. Basically, I tried to brew together all the stories (good and bad) that we’ve experienced, along with the plethora of experiences (good and bad) I’ve heard about in the counseling room, let them all steep for a bit, and then serve it as a nice cuppa to the imaginary senior pastors and missions committee members.
Things like, Let your workers share vacation photos without making them feel guilty. Recognize that your short term trip does NOT mean you understand what life on the field is like. Thank you for sending and praying; we need you. And stuff like that.
See below for a description from Shepherd’s Staff about each episode
Interview with Jonathan and Elizabeth Trotter Part One
This is part one of an interview with Elizabeth and Jonathan Trotter. The Trotters are missionaries in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their ministry is interesting, diverse and far-reaching. In part one of our podcast, we hear from the Trotter’s about their call to the mission field and the beginning and evolution of their ministry. We are introduced to their writing ministry and blogging ministry that focuses on cross-cultural Christian service.
Here are some of the resources mentioned in this podcast:
Interview with Jonathan and Elizabeth Trotter Part Two
This is part two of our interview with missionary counselor/blogger/authors Elizabeth and Jonathan Trotter. At the very beginning of part two of our interview, we talk about this article written by Jonathan Trotter. In the rest of the interview, as the Trotters give us the story behind the creation of their book, we learn that writing as a husband and wife team is fraught with peril. But the result is both healing and well received by their publisher and readers.
Please follow the resource links below to their book and other articles discussed in this interview:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ Jesus
Thieves steal. Sometimes the impact is NOW; you know it immediately and you feel it deeply. Other times, it takes some time; the bomb’s on a delay. And then it blows and you begin to realize all that was taken. All the time lost, the lives shattered, the relationships fractured. It feels like the wind gets knocked right out of you and you can’t even tell if the crater in your soul feels like anger or sadness or some other concoction of pain. But it’s definitely pain.
Sometimes the thief steals stuff, but often it’s more. Much more.
Maybe the thief looked like a robber on the back of a moto, or a home invader. Maybe the thief was a corrupt government, stealing freedom, opportunities, and futures. Maybe the thief was a cruel family member, or someone from your church or mission, a “friend.”
Whoever they were, they stole, they destroyed, and they killed. Or at least they tried.
Like any really good assessment, these five categories are totally made up.
There are no peer-reviewed studies parsing these five stages of cross-cultural work. There is no quantified, objective data set; still, please feel free to say you’re in “Stage 3 – Wing 4.” That would make me happy. And remember, if you say anything with exactitude, we’ll all think you know what you’re talking about.
The lines of demarcation between these stages are blurred, and in some cases overlapping. Just roll with it. And remember, this isn’t the Rubicon, so feel free to cross back over to an earlier stage if you’d like.
Are you ready?
We’ll look at the two options within each stage, we’ll list some common statements you might hear from folks taking each option, and then we’ll look at some primary goals for each stage.
This is more Wiki than Webster’s, so please add your thoughts, explanations, arguments, additions, or funny jokes in the comment section.
Idealist/Ignorant – Pre-field
You know the idealist, right? If you’re on the field, you probably were one. Once.
We need the idealist. Often, the idealism of youth or new belief motivates people to the field in the first place; that’s not bad. In fact, idealism is a fantastic place to start; it’s just not a fantastic place to stay.
Idealism is not what’s dangerous; ignorance is.
The main difference here is that the ignorant person doesn’t know what it is that they don’t know. And it’s a lot. The idealist knows they don’t know everything, so they’re safer. The idealist is a day-dreamer, aware of the reality around them, while the ignorant is lost in a fantasy dream world at night, unaware that their sick child is vomiting in the bathroom down the hall and their wife has been up three times already and the dog just peed on the clean laundry. Yeah, ignorance is dangerous.
Things you might hear the idealist say:“This is all so amazing! God’s going to do amazing, new, prophetic things in this glorious season of fresh wind. He is calling the nations to himself and he’s calling me to the nations. Will you donate?”
Things you might hear the ignorant say:“I don’t need a sending church or org or agency. I read a book and I feel super called! Also, I served a person once on a short-term trip and now I’m going to save the world. Will you donate?”
Goals for this stage:
Don’t be ignorant.
Protect your ideals, while purposefully listening to the reality of some who’ve gone before you. You’re not the first person God’s called across cultures, and you won’t be the last.
In my work as a pastoral counselor and occasional preacher, I talk about them a lot. The hope is that by developing an awareness of the Psalms, folks would feel free to start feeling their feelings, talking about their feelings, and perhaps even talking to God about their feelings. That would be a good thing.
But I didn’t know I talked about them this much. As is evident by the lists below, I’ve talked and sung and written a bunch about the Psalms. And I’m not stopping.
Because although the Psalms do not help us to become super Christians, the Psalms do in fact help us to become human Christians. And the world (and global missions) needs as many of those types as we can get…
Cross-cultural workers often have tons of sympathy. We see the needs (physical, spiritual, etc.), we answer the call, and we GO. And that’s just great.
Sometimes we stir up sympathy for the poor and the marginalized; we fund raise with pictures aimed to generate pity and money. And that’s not so great. But it is relatively easy.
Sympathy is a powerful start, but it is not the finish. So I don’t want to talk about sympathy. I don’t want to talk about the pros and cons of feeling (or generating) sympathy. I want to talk about something much more potent.
I want to talk about empathy. I want to talk about the power of empathy in a world gone mad.
“Everyone has a story that will break your heart. And, if you’re really paying attention, most people have a story that will bring you to your knees.” ~ Brené Brown
Someday, somehow, the vast majority of us will say goodbye, pack up, cry tears of joy or sorrow or both, and depart.
How will that work out for you?
Well, frankly, I have no idea. But I do know that there are some things you can do to prepare to leave and some things you can do to prepare to arrive. And while a cross-cultural move is stressful no matter which direction you’re going, knowing some of what to expect and how to prepare really can help.
The first part of this article deals with Leaving Well, while the second part deals with the oft-overlooked importance of Arriving Well.
In Arriving Well, we’ll look at
– Embracing your inner tourist,
– Making movie magic,
– Identifying your needs, and of course,
We’ll wrap up with an Arrival Benediction, which is a prayer for you, the transitioner, from the bottom of my heart.