Ideas for Helping Re-Entering
and Home-Assignment Missionaries
Missionary Care: Home Assignment (Nesbitt)
The following article was posted on Reality-check-Discuss
We are missionaries in Tokyo with OMF International. My husband is doing the finance and admin job in the HQ office and I do evangelism in the shape of English Bible studies. Home assignment is a difficult time and gets more difficult as the time goes by when one has spent more of one’s adult life on the filed than at “home”.
In time order:
1. Be there to meet them at the airport. Ask some straight questions about how much cash they have on them.
2. Endeavour to get them accommodation before they arrive. So many people have great stress before leaving because they don’t even have a flat or house to go into and also no equipment and furniture usually.
3. People need at least one week’s peace to get over jet lag before one goes into debriefing sessions. Also a session of re-orientation: let them ask what they are interested in: what’s top of the pops (for the teenagers), what been big news lately, where’s the best place to shop (shopping can be stressful with so many varieties and the knowledge that one has been ‘deprived’ of these things for 4 years) politics, economics, fashion, church news, – anything that will help them to find their feet in the community.
4. People appreciate being asked what it was like – although no-one else but another missionary can really understand – what was the best moments, the most difficult, the saddest, the most stressful – and with questions, they should be able to unburden and talk a lot of things off their chest.
5. People from hot climates, very often don’t have clothes for cold weather. Or their clothes in general are old and out of fashion. They are too shy to say this. Some missions may not allow their missionaries to speak of what their needs are even. You have to ask direct questions. People are shy and diffident to let on how much they need.
6. The first month should be holiday. Preferably 2 weeks of which are at a nice holiday spot.
7. Missionaries appreciate a meeting with the minister or missions committee and council of the church.
8. There is better in-depth value to speaking to small group meetings at a church than preaching once at a big service.
9. A car is a necessity and a very expensive one. All efforts should be made to find a car for the family.
10. Security may be a big stresser, let them talk about it. Go over their accommodation with them and arrange for necessary burglar proofing.
11. It helps the wife to be in a small ladies’ group for the year where she can talk and pray freely and feel she has a group of friends she can relate to in correspondence and for prayers needs in the future. Husbands the same – whether it be a church group or a group of men that fish or golf, etc.
12. Children have big adjustments to make as they change school – care should be taken that kids have a chance to make choices and to have friends they can relate to quickly; kids who will invite them around or aunties and uncles they can talk to and go out with. Parents should be encouraged to visit the school and talk to the class teachers so that they are aware of the child’s background and special needs: teachers who make the child feel different or mock their accents are definitely OUT.
13. Watch that the family has enough chance to relax, go to the beach, and eat out. This all costs money. To get to the beach takes petrol.
14. There should be adequate time near the end of [home] assignment for another month’s holiday. Also time to pack and say farewells. Help in getting boxes to the post office or harbor is much appreciated. A farewell meeting with the minister and missions committee is good.
15. Who is looking after the financial arrangements back home? Inquire and help them to find someone reliable and efficient. Who is sending out newsletters? Maybe a small group could volunteer or be asked to be on a Support group and they could finance the newsletter or make arrangements to give them out to people in their area, or one in an area posts, etc.
16. Another good idea is to get names and numbers and advertise an “At Home” when the family will be at a home and anyone can come and visit to see them from 2 – 6pm one Saturday. That takes care of many visits and meals that they just don’t have time or energy to see to.
17. Another great thing is to arrange a get-together of their Bible college or seminary friends. (I enjoyed this the most of all things on our first furlough)
Unfortunately most of these things take MONEY, but really if you could ask them their monthly income in cash you would probably fall off your chair. And most people are still having their overseas trips, meals out, new clothes etc., so there is money around.
Mariana Nesbitt from Japan
This article “Ideas for Helping Re-Entering and Home-Assignment Missionaries” by Mariana Nesbitt was excerpted from: www.missionarypoint.com web site. January 2008. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”