Furlough

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by NaasPreacher (C4K), Apr 20, 2007.

  1. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    I would really like to have a serious discussion here without anger, rancour, or judgemental spirits. I put this here rather than in pastors or missionary forum because I would like everyone's input.

    I will start with a key question, then add more of my own views as the discussion develops.

    When we consider the cost of airfare, the cost of travel across the US (to missionaries and churches), and modern technology which allows for websites, photoblogs, email updates, and even live video communication between missionaries and churches, is the traditional "furlough" outdated and passe?

    I have several other points from a missionary's perspective, but will hold them until we have some more input.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
     
  2. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    Well, based on the input from missionaries that I know, they enjoy the furlough, it lets them recharge, and if you're after funding, nothing beats a personal appearance.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Thats the kind of input I am looking for.

    I personally get exhausted on furlough instead of recharged. I have to come back to the field and take a holiday :).

    Would like to hear from other missionaries to get their perspective.
     
  4. mcdirector

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    Roger, I had wondered about that.

    You are uprooted and living in a home that is not yours.
    Your adopted country has be come your country as have it's customs. So this is also awkward.
    Your kids, if not homeschooled, are in different schools.
    You are frequently separated from your family due to speaking engagements.

    AND as you said, due to modern technology, we've had missionaries speak to us live in services where we've not only heard them but seen them on the IMAG.

    I realize that this had a place in our history - to get the word (a personal word) out about missions. AND there will still be those opportunities as missionaries travel naturally. I sure don't stop talking about what I do when I travel :D
     
  5. mnw

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    I often wonder how many churches at "home" wherever that may be, would survive or thrive if they lost their pastor for a year at a time on a regular basis.

    Sometimes they get a variety of preachers to fill in. In this case the church normally stands still or goes back ward.

    Other times they get a temporary pastor. In these cases it takes a while for them to get settled in, then they hold the fort. Then the people have to get used to their old pastor coming back.

    As well, the instability on the missionary and his family makes it very difficult. Perhaps that's why we hear so many stories and jokes about MK's. :) The missionary is constantly uprooting his family and causing stress to them on a regular basis which many at "home" would never even consider putting their own family through.

    As well, the expense involved in most furloughs, though normally covered by love gifts and whatever, does not seem the best way to spend the Lord's money.

    I'll not go into figures but sometimes a year's worth of furlough could be a hefty figure that the missionary could use on the field rather than pay out on fuel, accommadation etc.

    Now, I am not in the situation mentioned above, but most missionaries are. My situation is kind of unusual... but many missionaries are in this position.

    In my opinion, the furlough system in many churches needs to be re-evaluated.
     
  6. Shiloh

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    We have a daughter in Greenland with her family. They are the ONLY missionaries in Greenland and it is a tough place. They are talking about a furlough of two months because there is no one else there. I would like to see them take at least "6". They have kids we have never seen in person. So I guess this is a different perspective.
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Roger, I think it depends on the kind of missionary you are. I am afraid I don’t know enough about your work in Ireland to know how you fit in this but the most impressive ‘missionaries’ I have known were in fact no longer missionaries but had become pastors in their adopted countries. It depends on your specific call from God.

    Some missionaries are called to start and build churches but then turn them over to a national pastor and leave them once they are self sustaining. Often in between starting churches they can take several months off to recharge and raise support. They are not leaving a struggling mission church but a self sustaining church that needs no help. Other missionaries build a work and then remain as the pastor of that work. The most incredible missionary I ever met was in Haiti where he had built a church and remained as the pastor of it. It was a self sustaining work that had taken no support from the United States or any mission board for many years. They were in fact sending out their own missionaries to the villages around them. These types of missionaries are home and don’t need an extended furlough (although a vacation to visit friends and relatives is nice from time to time).

    When a work is just starting and would suffer greatly if the missionary took a furlough then that is not the time to take one. You would have to pray for guidance on an individual basis but if you have a heart for your people and they would suffer while you are gone why would you want to leave for an extended period of time.

    I understand the requirement for face time with the missionaries we support and it not only raises funds for the missionaries but inspires and motivates those of us at ‘home.’ How many missionaries today were called to the mission field after hearing a missionary speak who was home on furlough? I would venture most. A furlough may be needed to raise support and recharge the missionary, but it is also needed to plant the seeds that will become the next generation.

    Shiloh, is there any way you could go see them?
     
  8. exscentric

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    Personal opinion, do what is best for your family, ministry, finances and situation. If you need to build up some more support then a trip home is probably wise.

    Having said that, before you do what I've suggested the home missions office needs to begin educating the pastors and congregations of the points being made and help them understand.

    ALSO, the missionary needs to take use of all those things mentioned and communicate with their pastors and congregations in an adequate way. We support people that send off a thankyou card once or twice a year, but seldom more than a prayer letter once a year.

    I think it depends on the country as well. Ireland missionaries (those I know - several) would never come home if they had the choice, in fact one couple bought a home and "retired" there. Others might find the time in usa as a refresher - like I said, do as you think best. :thumbs:
     
  9. mnw

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    It also has a lot to do with the type of mission field you are on. In some places it is easier to start a church than others. Spiritual, social and economic factors all play a part.



    TO me a missionary is not always a pastor. Very often the missionary/evangelist begins the work and then they call a pastor to continue and build up the work. Normally this will happen when the church can sustain its own pastor. Perhaps some of the problems we face is that we confuse the two offices and think they are interchangeable.



    The choice of a missionary to leave and raise more support is not always by his own choice. I'll come back to this point maybe.



    Many factors must be taken into account. I know that our church supports missionaries who in turn support national pastors. They do this because the national pastor can live on a fraction of what the missionary can.



    Why go? So you can feed your family and pay the bills. Think of the missionaries in Europe and Britain who in some cases have lost almost 1/4 of their support in about 2 years simply because of the exchange rate. Are they meant to diet until the right time comes? I know missionaries whose heart is broken because they have to go and they have no choice.

    I don't know about this. I see where you are coming from and can appreciate it, but I am not sure. Are missionaries meant to be advertisements for the field? Isn't the call on the heart of an individual from the Lord and not man?

    I understand absolutely what you are saying, but in part it just does not sit right with me.
     
  10. Hope of Glory

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    Most missionaries that I know, when they go on furlough, it's for two months max.

    Also, there's a difference between being physically tired from being on the go and needing to be recharged.

    However, in perspective, my wife wants to go back to visit family twice per year. I'm fine with a couple weeks every couple of years. Different strokes for different folks.

    Shiloh, tell your daughter that I'll come stay for a while. I'm used to the north and I need a vacation! (I've applied for a grant to go to Antarctica to teach on an art grant, but I don't expect that to take fruition for a couple of years.)
     
  11. Mexdeaf

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    My first thought- "Furlough... what's that???"

    To explain- we have been on the field for almost 9 years and have only been gone for about 6 months in that time span. Definitely not by choice.

    Several factors have been in play- one is that we work with the deaf and there is a HUMONGOUS learning curve for the deaf to get over and get to the point where that can understand the concept of an autonomous Baptist church. After almost 8 years in the work we are almost there... I think.

    Another has been that there aren't too many people who can come in and take our place for a short time. If we were working someplace where they used the same Sign Language as in the USA, that would be a different story. But Mexican Sign Language is totally different.

    And a third factor- it is such a hassle to leave. Making sure your 'stuff' gets taken care of, making sure the bills will get paid, etc. Living out of suitcases gets so old after a while. Then you have to go through the hassles of going back. If you haven't done it you don't understand- it is not the same as going on vacation for two weeks or even making a foreign trip as a tourist.

    That being said, IF we could have done it differently we would have.

    I am reading a book right now about a missionary named Bill Wallace. He was a SBC missionary to China back in the 1930's. Back then the SBC mandated that their missionaries take a month off every year from the work for R&R. They generally did not leave the country they were working in (travel back in those days was quite primitive), but they got away from their work. They didn't spend the time visiting supporting churches, either. Not sure what their requirements are now.
     
  12. Hope of Glory

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    Also, come to think of it, when missionaries come here for furlough, they're coming to a place to hunt and fish and camp and visit a few churches (mostly small and informal). Not the hustle and bustle of a big church or a big city. Might make a big difference.
     
  13. tinytim

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    My love for missions stems from missionaries that were on fulough when I was young. I can even remember their sermons!

    I tracked one down last year in Australia. It was nice to exchange some emails.. He is not a missionary now, but a full time pastor in the church he started when I was a teen... (one we helped support)

    If he hadn't been on furlough, that may have not happened.
    His sermon was the first I remember hearing that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then the rest of the world in Acts 1:8 can be applied to where I live, my state, my country, and the world.

    Because of the way a lot of church handles missions, missionaries seem like celebrities that are unapproachable. This causes a disconnect between the local church and the missionary. But because of furloughs, the untouchable heroes become human with real faces, real needs, and real ministries.

    On the other hand, our denomination is promoting more and more short term mission trips to help our missionaries. And with the world becoming smaller and smaller, if the missionaries can't come to us, we should go to them... take a few from your church to the missionary.

    When they come back, they will move from knowers to doers... most will become leaders in some ways. Next year take a few more.

    This way, within 10 yrs several from your congregation will have had the opportunity to not only meet, but work alongside their missionaries.
     
  14. annsni

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    In our church, we have 2 different kinds of missionaries.

    One set are missionaries who we have decided to support from the outside. These missionaries keep in contact with our missions pastor and don't really need to come back to do more "fundraising" because he keeps in close contact with them and knows their needs. If they happen to be back here on furlough, we welcome them here to visit and they can speak to the church if they wish, but no need to. We have had 2 missionaries here this past week and they've had a good visit. No need to do lots of "work" here, although one of them DID help work on the church expansion on Friday (we're doing all the work ourselves).

    The other group of missionaries are ones that are homegrown. These are men and women who came out of our congregation and have gone out from us - and many of them get their full support from us. When they come here on furlough, it's "coming home", so to speak. It's a refreshing time for them and they really enjoy being here. Our missionaries in Italy come home for most of the summer - and my kids are good friends with their kids. Our church purchased a house next door and moved it to some other property we had across the street from the church (we needed to expand the parking lot to where the house was) and our missionaries stay there - in their own home. So they're not living with someone while they're here - they have their own space, which is great.

    So, I think that it really depends on the situation of the missionary. I'm sure they like to come home and see their families that have been left behind and to get a little rest from their work. Hey, we ALL like that, right?

    Hey, Mexdeaf, I was going to suggest you hook up with our deaf ministry people but you say that Mexican sign language is different than ASL. That's too bad. We have a decent sized deaf congregation here - they have their own church service now! It's pretty cool and it would be great for them to be able to do a missions trip, but I guess that wouldn't work without knowing the language, huh? ;)
     
  15. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Wow - sounds a lot like us. We have not furloughed in about 8 years. It is very difficult to leave a church where one functions as the pastor, in every sense of the word. God's work here is just now starting to develop - how does one leave that?

    But - - - I appreciate the comments about the impact of missionaries in the lives of people there.

    Man, I hoped this would help clear things up for me :).
     
  16. annsni

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    Hmmm - Just was thinking of this last night. For those who say that it's hard to get away being the pastor of the church you started, what happens if you passed away or was otherwise unable to continue your pastorate? Would the church die also? I know our pastor has spoken very strongly about "duplicating yourself" - in other words, make sure someone is training or trained to take over your position. I know that those missionaries we have all over the world are able to come home for a time because they have others in the ministry who are able to take over while they're away. For our senior pastor's 35th anniversary at our church (yep - a long ministry - the associate pastor has been here over 25 years too), we gave him a 6 week sabbatical - and he took it. Other pastors filled in with no problem and he had fun planning where he would go and what he would do. He visited family, friends, vacationed and then just hung out at home and relaxed. Even this weekend, he's away at his 50th high school reunion and we have someone else preaching.

    In all positions at our church, not one is "exclusive" to one person. There is always someone who can fill in when need be and if necessary, have been able to take over the position fully. I think that's healthy. I'm not sure if you guys have that but if you don't, I'd highly recommend it!
     
  17. Mexdeaf

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    Annsni-

    At the risk of sounding terse, let me just say that in many cases this is 'Easier said than done'. I don't have time to expand upon that right now but perhaps later today or tomorrow I can if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

    BTW, I looked at your church's web site, looks like an exciting deaf ministry there. One of my good deaf evangelist friends was just there to preach. We have groups come all the time that only know ASL, some of our folks understand a little bit of it. And the deaf somehow find a way to communicate in spite of the language barrier.

    Gotta run.....:wavey:
     
  18. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Perfect solution in an ideal world - sadly it is not ideal.

    We are not talking about a few weeks - we are talking being gone a year. Church plants rarely have the advantage of fully trained people who can step in.
     
  19. annsni

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    Was your friend Allen Snare? Jim Bracelin from Silent Word Ministries is great too. If you ever want to possibly talk of partnering with our church for a missions trip, I can give you the contact info. We have a woman who helps to run the ministry under one of our pastors (he knows some ASL but she's an interpreter and has been in the deaf ministry for years) who I would put you in touch with. That would be awesome to possibly do.

    I understand it's difficult to raise up other leaders (hey, we're trying to just raise up a co-leader in our small group and, while everyone would be great at it, no one has stepped up yet), but isn't that our goal? To reproduce ourselves in ministry? To raise up new disciples to grow in Christ? Mexdeaf - I can see that your ministry might be particularly difficult because not only do you need to find someone who can run a church/ministry but that person also needs to be fluent in the deaf language/culture there. I've learned through our deaf ministry that it's not just a language barrier but there IS a cultural one even within whatever culture they're in. I will pray for your ministry that you may find someone who would come alongside you and be able to be your Timothy. :D

    C4K - So then, if something happens to the missionary, the mission fails. Something is just not right with that. Jesus raised up those alongside Him who would continue the ministry after He was gone. Paul did the same thing - ALL of the leaders in the New Testament must have done that because we have a continuing church today. We just had a man who's been a missionary to Germany in church today. He spoke of his church in Germany and then told us that God has called him to go to Switzerland to work with the international youth there AND to do a missionary work to war torn countries by going in as humanitarian aid - and therefore bringing the Gospel along with it. Fortunately, he has those who will be taking over his church plant in Germany so that he can then follow where God is leading him. I can't think of any of our missionaries who are the only ones who can lead their mission - they've all reproduced their ministry in others. I think that if any missionary is so single in their mission, then they need to work on that. I think it just makes sense. As I said, I understand the difficulty but I also think that it's so important.
     
  20. Pastor_Bob

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    We have a young couple in our church currently on deputation and headed to Greenland. Tell your daughter to hang in there; help is on the way. :thumbs:
     

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