From January 11-15, 2023, we helped lead a regional retreat for our colleagues in S.E. Asia. The theme of the retreat was Isaiah 43:18-19.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)
Regional Rest & Resilience
Two years ago, Area Director Leslie Turley applied for a Palmer Grant so that all the missionaries in her region could gather for rest and renewal. The gathering took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 2023.
Thirty-one global servants, their children, 4 IM staff members, 5 members of FBC Plainfield, IN who came to care for the MKs, 2 members of the Thai Baptist Mission Fellowship, and us (David & Joyce) came together for five amazing days of fellowship. We worshipped together, played together, ate together, studied Scripture together, and honored God. Some of us were meeting each other face-to-face for the very first time!
Leslie invited us to be there to facilitate times of spiritual formation. We wove spiritual practices focused on Prayer, Silence, Scripture, and Art. We also held conversations about stress & trauma, and what calls us back towards resilience. Over these three days we examined, again and again, Isaiah 43:18-19. We slowed down to listen to God’s heartbeat for mission. What did God want us to perceive together, as the body of Christ?
Our group process led us to discern that we are being called back to relationship with God and with one another. There is an invitation to deep joy, mutuality, embodiment, and incarnation. As one person summarized: I feel like God is saying: “You haven’t seen anything yet!”
God allowed us to intersect with 1/3 of our colleagues in the spiritual practice of deepening with scripture that let us glimpse the new thing coming: authentic communion with God and each other! Yes, on one hand, it’s not new. But after a global pandemic that has pushed people into isolation, division, and hopelessness, it is a reminder that we need to intentionally build community again. We need to lean into koinoia. A Greek word that means intimate spiritual communion.
This is the basis of our ministry as the Global Coordinators of Spiritual Care. To provide spaces for authentic community where a deep knowing of God, a deeper knowing of one’s self, and deep friendships can take root, grow, and be strengthened as we daily seek to conform to the image of Christ.
This ministry is only three years old. It’s still a new thing! And, as we all discern ministry on this side of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking, “What does this ministry need to look like now? How is God shaping it today, in 2023? Do we perceive it?”
Global Coordinators Are Missionaries
When we stepped into this role three years ago, many of you asked if we were still “missionaries.” Yes, we are! Now, we minister in a global capacity compared to when we ministered locally in La Paz, Mexico, and then regionally in Latin America. God has simply expanded our ministry to include more territory! In addition to providing spiritual support to global servants, there have been opportunities to provide support & encouragement to national leaders who serve with our Baptist partners around the world. It is a privilege and honor to be in these sacred relationships! Also, like all our global servant colleagues, we still raise our financial support. This keeps us on an equal footing with our colleagues so that we remain in a collegial role and not a supervisory role.
We are grateful to each one of you that follows our ministry, offering support in a variety of ways. Your partnership is vital to our holistic well-being. We love when any of you has the time to drop us a note and let us know how you’re doing and how we can pray for you, too. It might take us a few days, or even a week, to write back, so don’t give up on us if we don’t respond immediately.
May the peace and grace of God sustain you and give you strength in the days to come. Choose joy. Embrace wonder. Be curious about a question without expecting an answer. And, be kind to yourself and to each other. The world is low on resilience right now. A little kindness really does go a long way.
With loving kindness,
David & Joyce Reed
Global Coordinators of Spiritual Care