What is home assignment? Instead of a ministry assignment on the field (in our case Ulan-Ude, Russia), during this period of time we will be fulfilling certain ministry requirements in the USA. Of course, one part of this home assignment will be “rest and renewal.” Since we are very active in ministry and tend to keep the nose to the grindstone here, we are looking forward to a period of disengagement from life in Russia, so that we can reflect on the past and refocus on the future.
This summer will be especially filled with “family events.” We anticipate not one, not two, but three weddings this summer. Olivia and Daniel Underwood will be married in June. Jonathan and Cassie Long will be married in September, and Elisabeth and Brandon Brown will also be married, at a date to be finalized soon. We have no greater joy than knowing that they are walking with God. We look forward to celebrating each of these special days. Anna has plans for the summer–but not for her wedding.
Of course, we are looking forward to “reconnecting with family and friends.” Certainly, one of the most difficult parts of being a missionary is separation from family and friends. We are very thankful for so many modern forms of communication that make it possible to remain somewhat connected, but there is no substitute for hours of face-to-face time!
A very important part of our time home will be spent “reporting to sending churches and supporters.” We are responsible to those who have sent us out! Lisa and I are thankful to each of our supporting churches and the many personal supporters who make it possible for us to live and serve in Russia. While we try our very best to communicate effectively about our ministry activities while in Russia, we very much look forward to reporting and interacting in person about all that God is doing in Ulan-Ude. People at home also need to hear about the difficulties and challenges that we face. This is best shared personally rather than in print.
We want to help “mobilize new missionaries” since mobilizing God’s people is a key component of SEND’s vision and more importantly God’s plan to reach the lost. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” As God brings qualified people with a heart to reach the lost into our lives, we want to encourage them to serve Jesus in strategic roles. Missions is a spiritual battle, and there is a desperate need for humble, serious-minded, godly people to enter that battle.
And, yes, missionaries often go on home assignment to “raise support” – this is the acceptable way of referring to the act of asking for more money! Missionaries need more support for many different reasons. Sometimes the cost of living in various parts of the world increases. Sometimes faithful elderly supporters go home to be with the Lord. Sometimes churches and individuals cease supporting for various reasons. Personally, all these things have happened to us, but we are thankful to God that He has and will raise up new supporters. We anticipate needing significant funds to return. For us that is in the neighborhood of $1500 per month additional support.
There are other reasons why missionaries go on home assignment. We will spend time with our mission organization, reporting to them about our work and helping them where possible. Summer time is the best time for us to go home from a school-year point of view but not for meeting up with people in the States that is why we are working now to connect and schedule. We certainly look forward to seeing many of you.