Yearly Encouragement for Missionaries
By Greg Petrie, District Representative, Northwest
“We’re on our way down to the beach to eat BBQ salmon—just suffering for Jesus!”
I was on the phone with a man who, along with his family, senses God’s leading to serve as a missionary pastor in rural North America. He is in the application process to become a Village Missionary. We had already met together a few times, and he had a few more questions he hoped I could answer.
We were attending our annual Village Missions staff conference at Cannon Beach, Oregon–one of the six staff conferences held this summer throughout the United States and Canada. I shared how Village Missions and the churches we serve partner together to provide our Village Missionaries this opportunity for REST (Renewal, Encouragement, Strengthening, Training).
Encouragement for Missionaries Much Needed
Summer conference provides encouragement for Village Missionaries as they take a break from their fields of service and come together to reconnect with old friends and to forge new friendships. This includes the children of Village Missionaries who may not even know many kids their age in their community–and most likely none who relate to being a missionary kid. They say, “These kids are just like me.” (We always like to note how many Village Missionary kids met their spouse at conference!)Conference is a time to receive encouragement, exhortation and challenge from others proclaiming and teaching the Word of God. This year we focused on transition. Our theme was “The God Who Provides the Increase.” We heard from in-house speakers: Director Brian Wechlser, the out-going Assistant Director Mike Jones, the in-coming Assistant Director John Adams, the CDI Director Ron Sallee, the out-going Western District Representative Gil Doebler, and the in-coming Western States District Representative Mark Canady (did I mention the theme was transition?!) The ladies had a morning of separate sessions and heard from several of the speaker’s wives.
Conference also provides a time to join together in prayer and worship. Many of our Village Missionaries serve in churches of a few dozen people, and musical talent may be limited. To join together in singing praises with 170 others is a real treat!
Conference feeds not only the soul, but our bodies too. Many, especially the wives, appreciate a week of having someone else doing the cooking and cleaning up the dishes. The Cannon Beach Conference Center staff always cares for us very well.
Staff Conference Provides Many Benefits
Village Missions conference is a time to relax and renew. The schedule allows time to take a walk on the beach, stroll through the shops of Cannon Beach, or take an afternoon nap. A few even join the teens for a game of basketball in the gym, play a game of pool in the rec hall, or join a friendly board game or round of Pass the Pigs!
Many Village Missionaries express their appreciation for the conference and note that it is a highlight of their year. One father told me his kids had been counting down the days for the past two months.
The Village Missionaries do not have to pay for the cost of the conference itself (only the cost of their travel). The cost of conference is covered by the generous giving of the many supporters of Village Missions and the churches we serve. The churches were asked to help with the cost, and most were able to–some at significant sacrifice and some graciously contributing even 2-3 times the requested amount in a tangible expression of how much they love and support their Village Missionaries and Village Missions.Staff conference is just one of the ways that Village Missions seeks to support, equip, and encourage those serving in rural areas of the United States and Canada. Village Missionaries receive visits twice a year by their District Representative couple. They have opportunity for monthly fellowship with other Village Missionaries in their area, and are featured periodically as the subject of the weekly prayer spotlight that gets shared across the country, often receiving phone calls from other churches asking for prayer requests.
These are just a few of the benefits I was able to share with this prospective new Village Missionary. I trust that as the Lord continues to direct, he and his family will join us next summer for a salmon BBQ overlooking the beach!
You can help our missionaries continue to receive encouragement through staff conferences!