Retreat: “an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable” (Webster’s Dictionary, first definition).
Recently, AFM conducted our South East Asia Retreat, gathering our missionaries working within the S.E. Asia region for training, fellowship and some much-needed rest and relaxation.
As someone who served overseas, I understand the importance of having a chance to recoup, reconnect with other like-minded missionaries, and refocus.
Each day, we started by gathering for prayer, followed by presenters sharing topics such as health and wellness, disciple-making, deliverance ministry, and third-culture kids. Much time was spent in groups, discussing what each team was doing on their project. But families also had downtime to relax, swim and take in local sites.
As a field director, this was a great opportunity to connect with my teams in one location and listen as they shared their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, good and bad.
It was encouraging to see families reconnecting. I heard stories that would make you cry with laughter, as well as stories that brought sorrowful tears. Missionaries shared stories of local people on their projects accepting Jesus as their Savior, as well as stories of spiritual or physical loss.
The children enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones. They had their own meetings with a wonderful leader and her children, laughing, playing, singing, and making sanctuary models.
The missionaries are now back on their projects, implementing much of what they learned during the retreat. I recently spoke with one of my missionary families, who told me how the team has been motivated by what they heard and has refocused on how to reach their local people group.
One family has started a Discover Bible Study (see page 5) at home before bed as part of their worship. It has only been a few weeks, but one of the daughters said she wanted to share with a friend the story of Jesus her family had been reading. The following week, this young girl had that opportunity. There is no age limit to being a missionary.
Another family told me how they were motivated to share more purposefully. They told me of a young single mother recently coming to church. She does not believe in Jesus but craves knowing more about the Bible. This family is building a friendship with her as they study together.
When I reflect on Webster’s definition of retreat, I am reminded that Jesus never backed down nor retreated from the task before Him. May we, likewise, not back down from the difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable so that the gospel of Jesus Christ can continue going into all the world.
Thank you for your prayers and your continued financial support. The work is moving forward, and the Holy Spirit is leading. The road might be rough, but the way is sure. Jesus says that He is the Way. Please continue praying that our missionaries and those to whom they minister move forward as Jesus leads.