According to my job description one of my main tasks is ‘to network with other missions on issues involving the education of missionaries’ children.’ This was one of the areas I identified before I started as being something totally new for me. Any networking that I have done in previous roles has all been set up for me and I didn’t really have any idea how to get started with this. However, as always God had it all planned…
A few weeks ago I was sorting through documents I’ve inherited with the role and found a load of old articles about TCK (Third-Culture Kids) education published by another organisation. Curious as to whether they were still being published I e-mailed the address given to ask. I got a response back that informed me they were but that also said ‘we have a Global Connections TCK Forum event due on the 4th October in Birmingham on educational issues which would be really useful for you.’
So, last week I headed down to Birmingham for the day to attend the forum. A 3 hour journey each way meant it was a long day but it was definitely worth it. There were about 25 others there from various mission organisations, as well as the speakers and organisers. Once again I saw God’s hand at work in the sessions provided – both of them were about topics that I was planning to start researching so that I can update documents (UK University Entrance for TCKs and Home Schooling Support organisations). Attending this forum has saved me hours of work in trying to find things out myself! There were also opportunities to hear about new and updated resources that are available and to meet other people who have similar roles to my own.
I’m sure that the connections made will be useful in the weeks and months to come. Global Connections run these forums regularly so I look forward to attending future ones and continuing to develop networks that can ultimately benefit the families we have in OM.
Whilst the church in exotic far away places like Africa, Asia and even the Middle East is growing at an amazing rate (just look at China) – the church in Europe is in steady decline. Weath and prosperity has replaced the need for God’s provision, advanced science and philosphpy has convinced most people God doesn’t exist – but neither have filled the emptiness inside every human being.
TeenStreet is a large international event in Germany where almost 4000 Christian and undecided teens come and experience God face to face. Powerful, exciting, confronting main meetings with intimite worship and challenging teaching are the spark of a flame that is fanned in small groups where the teens work out the mechanics of living their lives for Christ. Some commit their lives to Christ for the first time, others resolve to serve Him wholeheartedly, others still get a heart for local and world missions. All are impacted in some way.
We were pleased to be a small part of this huge conference in roles that we feel comfortable in. Chris was a part of the OMNIvision crew who covered the video for the main meetings – making sure that people could see, hear and understand the message being spoken to them. The title of this year’s TeenStreet was ‘Newsong 40’ – following Psalm 40 it encourages teens to leave behind the ‘old song’ of the world and start to sing the new song from God: “We were created to start each day anew, not consumed with the pain and regret of yesterday, or the fears and worries of tomorrow. Instead, to start a day in relationship with the Happiest person we know. Starting the day singing the Truth of the Kindest person we know, and what HE says about who you are. This is the song of our Father, who’s desire is to see His Kingdom come on Earth, as it is in HEAVEN!”. (www.teenstreet.de)
Part of Chris’s role for the week was to edit and upload recordings of the sessions. You can watch them online at http://www.omnitube.org/TeenStreet_Germany/. Feel free to use the clips or the ideas in them for your youth meetings etc.
Ruth coordinated the kids program – KidStreet – that ran simultaniously for the kids of helpers and organisers of TeenStreet. Following the same theme of a new song, the kids enjoyed a range of fun activities on their level, helping them to leave behind their old song and sing the new. Leading a group of kids who all speak different languages is difficult, but thankfully we had helpers from all the language groups!
This has been a big highlight for the start of our time with OM ICT in Carlisle, especially for Chris. We look forward to going to Holland in two weeks for the Global Orinentation (GO) conference – where new missionaries entering the field are given intense cross cultural missions training over two weeks – we did this ourselves when we joined the ship! After that we get to settle down into life in Carlisle – working with families in the mission field and creating multimedia resources for missions.
Ruth and I recently spent the week in the northern border city of Carlisle nestled at the foothills of the Scottish highlands. Though it was a little colder up there we had a lovely time and we feel like we have a little more assurance of the future. We visited the OM International Coordinating Team (ICT) office and met some of the team who work there. ICT’s purpose is to come alongside missionaries at all levels and in all countries and provide the support and organisation that they need to do the work God has given them to do. Whilst the roles here feel a little bit corporate, the focus and outworking is in equipping, praying for and ministering to missionaries around the world.
Ruth spent some time with those she will be working with and the person that she will be replacing. She was able to get a good handle on what the job involves and get her hands on some resources that she can get familiar with in the coming months. The team seem very keen to have her working there as soon as we can – which will absolutely be after our wedding and honeymoon in June!
I spent some time with the team who run IT (Information Technology) on Logos Hope. They are putting together a donation system for the ships ministry that I am helping to construct. This is something I’ll be working on in the coming weeks alongside wedding plans and support raising. I also got to visit OMNIvision again and connect with the crew there. I will be based at OMNIvision (which is in a separate studio a few miles from ICT). I got to see the events that are coming up this summer and I’m very excited about the possibilities.
We were delighted to spend time with the Ingham family who let me stay with them for the week and often had Ruth and I around for dinner. It was very encouraging to be welcomed so warmly, especially when we don’t really know anyone in Carlisle. We were able to see a house that we could possibly move into in July, but there are no guarantees. We like the house so we are praying it will work out – if not they will find us another place.
It’s all very daunting moving to the UK, moving away from Ruth’s hometown, getting married and changing jobs – but we keep bringing it back to God and He keeps reassuring us we are doing the right thing. We are continually encouraged by the way that our lives seem to have been building towards this place and time – that God has been working behind the scenes in our lives in the good times and the bad to prepare us for ministry.
Having spent a significant portion of my childhood as an MK (missionary kid) I developed a strong awareness and interest in mission work which stayed with me into adulthood, although I never had any plans or ideas where this would take me. By the age of 5 I’d chosen my career path and this finally came true in 2004 when I qualified as a primary school teacher. These two passions have always been present in my life to varying degrees. Throughout university and my years teaching in the UK I went on several short term mission trips and was involved with the mission team at my church.
In 2008 I finally felt the time to serve longer term in mission was approaching. For me it was an obvious and easy decision to teach MK’s as this combined my own experiences, passion for mission and love of teaching. Eventually I ended up on Logos Hope, as a teacher in the school onboard. Amongst the 400 crew onboard there are usually about 40 children, aged from 0 – 16. The school usually has about 8 teachers who provide an education for these children during their time onboard.
Having taught in the school on Logos Hope for 2 years I returned to the UK in October 2011, again wondering how all my passions and experiences could be combined. Through a series of thoughts and conversations God has led me to take on the role of ‘Family and Educational Support Advisor’ with OM.
Part of this role is to ensure that families and children on the mission field are well cared for, receiving the support and advice that they need to raise their family, make educational choices and deal with the unique challenges they face. This means providing resources, support and advice at all stages of their journey: as the plan and prepare for the mission field, during their time overseas and as they re-enter their home country. Having been an MK myself I can understand some of both the positive and negative impacts that can occur and I hope to be able to help maximise the former and minimise the latter.
Another part of the role is recruiting and supporting teachers, especially for the ship school. Recruitment is something totally new for me but having been a teacher onboard the ship I have some understanding of how to support them effectively. This includes being available to answer questions, providing resources and ensuring they are kept up to date with the curriculum.
Successfully fulfilling this role will require a lot of networking; researching about MKs, attending conferences and liaising with OM offices around the world. One person described the need for someone to be a ‘children’s advocate’ and I guess in many ways that is what I am hoping for – that I will be able to speak up on behalf of the children involved in mission and ensure that their needs are remembered by all involved.
All of this will be a part time role. In many ways stepping out of the classroom and into an office is a daunting prospect but I feel that my experiences all add up to help me face this new challenge. And to make sure I don’t go completely insane through a lack of interaction with children I hope to be able to teach part time. This will have the added benefit of enabling me to keep up with the changes to the curriculum. At the moment I have no idea what this teaching job may actually look like but am trusting that God has something lined up for me and will reveal it at the right time.