Forever Camping (Or, Interdependence and the Belovedness of Community)

I have a distinct childhood memory of one summer spent camping somewhere in Oregon on our family vacation. My sister and I pedaled about on our little bikes, befriending new kids in adjacent campsites, hurtling throughout the campground in a pack of small bicycles with no regard to the one-way arrows posted by some septuagenarian campground manager. One of the pleasures of camping is the freedom to unabashedly observe the possessions and paraphernalia of the campers around you, you smell each other’s food (for better or for worse), and you hear each other’s late night music and conversations.… Continue Reading

Living in Weakness: My Story of Anxiety

“Live leaning in when the pain is fierce

Oh, the bow, it will break at his coming

Stand who can understand the design

The refining holy fire.

Oh, gracious light. Oh, gracious light

I have been walking, walking so long, in darkness.”

(Sandra McCracken, Oh, Gracious Light)

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There is an episode of Call the Midwife, where an elderly woman with a gynecological malady (I can’t remember what) comes in to the clinic asking for help. The midwife calls a doctor to assist, and the doctor diagnoses an ongoing disorder.… Continue Reading

Perspectives from Abroad (Part 2): Perceptions, the West, and Global Identity

Welcome to part two of a three-part series on what it is like to relate with one’s passport country after living abroad. (Click here to read Part One) This series shares a dozen different perspectives from all over the world on some of the issues overseas workers face as they transition between their passport country and another culture. Part two focuses on the realities of life overseas, the global identity one gains while living abroad, and on how the West is perceived by the rest of the world.… Continue Reading

Relating to Home: Perspectives from Abroad (pt. 1)

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I don’t know anyone working overseas who does not at times feel terribly caught between worlds. This tension is constant for most of us, and it is often heightened by our experiences in returning home, or our attempts to share our life with those in our passport countries. There is typically little or no opportunity for us to have conversations about some facets of this tension, but there is a need for such conversations to take place. We wanted to create an opportunity for others to share anonymously about their joys and challenges in engaging with people and life back in their passport country.… Continue Reading

The Thing I Fear Most

I’ve found the missions lifestyle riddled with opportunities for my mind and heart to be anywhere but here and present. There is a lot of looking ahead to the next horizon (or to the horizons several decades away). Some of this foresight is needful for good planning, but much of it, when I’m really honest, isn’t foresight at all: it’s fear, fear that I’ve rationalized and justified in the name of being prepared for the ever foreboding foe: Future.

Most of my fears have to do with beauty, the fear of losing what I have in the Present.… Continue Reading

Change and the Unknown: Where Fear Has No Weight

We have moved three times within the last year. After receiving the keys to our latest dwelling, we discovered that we would have to move out by the first of September. I had hoped so much that I wouldn’t have to move again before we hopped our flight to Asia this fall. The realization that I will likely start living out of my backpack in September has been challenging for me, because it signals an earlier-than-expected transition to the unknown.

I knew this would be happening eventually.… Continue Reading

The Well of Grace

I have some sizeable frustrations with Christian subculture. I find purity rings offensive to the gospel, I’m discouraged by Extreme Sabbatarians, dismayed by big spotlights shining on worship bands and I wish Christians used the word “love” with more care. Maybe someday I’ll take time to write publicly about my concerns with these things… not yet though; I haven’t developed the grace to be entirely kind in my criticisms.

However, there is an aspect of Christian subculture that I feel free to combat with more abandoned savagery.… Continue Reading

“How Do You Define Success?”

 High Class“How do you define success in what you’re doing over there?” This has been a frequently asked question in the last year. Every time I hear it, I’m a bit lost for an eloquent reply. I see the value in encouraging or challenging missionaries to be evaluative of how they use their time and resources. I’ve worked with Christian non-profits and I see a very real need for increased transparency when it comes to funds and outcomes. (Hence why we want you to know our budget, as in our last newsletter.)

But this question of “success” is the fenceline between two dangerous ways of living and working in ministry.… Continue Reading

“You’re Not Qualified”

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Ministry. It is like the pinnacle sport of a Spiritual Olympiad, right? You get there because you’re really good, and people believe in you.

Fortunately not.

Several times in the last year, I’ve been told that it’s remarkable I’m headed for such a life (missions), since I have “x” or “y” as an obvious weakness. At first, those words were painful to me. What to think when you’ve been told you’re too flawed to follow?

Those voices were right, but only in terms of the present world’s economy.… Continue Reading