Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Transition ahead ... but not yet...


I had nothing to do with the timing of my CIU course, Missionary Care for Career Transitions. The Lord, however, orchestrated it to coincide with a series of decisions that Stan and I have needed to make over the past few months. We decided to prayerfully embrace the process as I went through the pre-course readings.

Leaving

We are incredibly grateful for the opportunities we've had here to serve Jesus and represent Him to many through our years of ministry in this country. At the same time, God has been working in our hearts, giving us indications that it is time to turn over our responsibilities to the next generation of leaders. We were already anticipating our next home assignment to begin the summer of 2013, after our boys graduate from high school, but when we leave this time we will end our 30+ years of service in Japan.

Entering

Meanwhile, the Lord has brought new ministry opportunities for both of us  to serve in the care and encouragement of missionaries at the sending office of SIM USA in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • I will take on the responsibilities of Director of Missionary Care and oversee the team that encourages spiritual and emotional care of the nearly 700 missionaries sent to 65 countries around the world (including our A2 missionaries). 
  • Stan has been asked to serve as the Campus Chaplain, entrusted to provide spiritual encouragement and support for the 80-100 sending office staff.  
Both of us are experiencing confirmation from our mission leaders, others who know us, and affirmation from the Lord for these positions which build on what we have learned and experienced through our time in Japan.

Logistics

Interestingly, we technically don't change missions with this upcoming relocation. Due to the Strategic Partnership between Asian Access and SIM, we are already considered SIM missionaries in the US.  We will continue to be supported financially and by prayer through churches and individuals' ministry of giving. And our new ministries will encompass the Asian Access missionaries when they are in the US!

We will pack up our belongings (after a radical paring down!) next summer and send them to Charlotte.  We will then begin an abbreviated home assignment, visiting our churches and friends as we are able to next fall. My SIM position is currently being filled by an Acting Director who is looking forward to relinquishing the responsibilities so SIM is asking me to consider picking up the role late in 2013.

Meanwhile...

We have told the congregation at the International Community Chapel of Saitama (ICCS) and will begin the process of working with the chapel to discern the next steps for their future.  Please be praying with all of us for the Holy Spirit to work in blessing and uniting the chapel through this time of transition.

I am working with the Asian Access/Japan leadership team to restructure my member care responsibilities so that they can be appropriately shared among several capable missionaries. As many of our missionaries are in their own transitions to new areas of ministry, pray that we will all find rest  in the Lord, and assurance that He has all of the uncertainties covered.

We are aware that we will live in emotional paradox for a long time because of this decision.  We are sad to be leaving ministry, friends, our church, a country where we've spent half our lives, memories, a cabin, and the security of a place that we call home. We are also very excited about the new ministries ahead, living in Charlotte, being in the same country as most of our family, working with the folks we've met at SIM, and the opportunities ahead to impact the world for Christ by equipping God's sent-out people.

Please pray for us as we navigate the next few years of change!






2 comments:

Wendy said...

Praying!

Flossie said...

How can I feel devastated and yet immediately have a sense of rightness about your decision? You two have been a blessing to Russ and me many times. We will miss you immensely here in Japan even though we don't get to see you often.

I pray God's blessings on you as you finish up well here in Japan and then get settled in your new ministries Stateside.