HELPING GAIN TRACTION
The past week (not counting travel) has been spent with some 50 missionaries and counsellors at a retreat called “Traction” started by Pastor Daniel Hahn of Bible Fellowship Church in Ventura. It has been my privilege to be part of the Traction staff for each of the past three years. A team of counsellor/coaches (and a medical doctor) gather for a week to encourage, counsel, and coach “at risk” missionaries who are expending themselves for God’s kingdom in difficult places.
I cannot show the pictures of the participants or tell you where the missionaries are serving. I can, however, show you a photo of the outstanding staff team Daniel chose to walk along side these Christian workers.
Each day starts with breakfast where we connect with those attending. The staff team then meets right after breakfast to pray for the participants and orient for the day. This is followed by a general session, then by small groups to round out each morning. In the afternoon, there are four one-hour slots for the attendees to sign up with counsellors. This results in back, to back, to back, to back meetings.
There is a write up on each counsellor/coach so missionaries can select who might be most helpful to them. Here is what is written about me:
“Linus Morris: (leadership coaching) Linus is the author of two books as well as a number of articles. He has an engineering degree from Oregon State University, Masters degrees from Regent College and Fuller Theological Seminary, and well as Doctor of Ministry degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (in theology), Bakke Graduate University and Asia Theological Seminary (in transformational leadership). Linus and his wife Sharon [YEAH!…I just added that] have worked with university students in the U.S., planted churches in the U.S., France, and Holland; and Linus was president of Christian Associates for 25-years before joining Global Training Network (GTN) to train leaders globally. Linus and Sharon and been married for 50+ years, have six children, and fourteen [actually, now 17] grandchildren.”
WHAT WE PROCESS: SOUL CARE, STRATEGY AND MORE
I start each one-hour session by asking, “What would be helpful for you to talk about or process?” The issues range from anxiety, to loneliness, to depression, to strategy, to leadership, to team conflict, to marriage and family, to much more. I am impressed by the dedication of those I talk with, and in some cases the incredible endurance and longevity of their service in difficult countries far from their countries of origin.
One participant shared with me the struggle of whether or not to take a team into an area where terrorists were operating. Another was struggling with the recent death of a two-year old son. Another with bitterness due to a conflict with a team member. Another with the recent death of his wife. Many struggle with being too busy, resulting in fatigue and a lack of soul care.
Speaking of “Soul Care”, one of the best descriptions of what that means is a summary I drew from tributes, describing the life and ministry of a dear friend recently gone to heaven, Sandy MacPherson:
“Put Jesus in the centre, find God in our story, and allow Him to rewrite the text of our lives.”
The impact of the Traction retreat was very encouraging. One participant came in obvious pain about his marriage. By the end of our time together his countenance changed to one of joy and hope. Another was returning with a determination to carve out more space to spend time with the Lord, his wife, and children. For many there was a renewed sense of God’s love, grace, and presence in their lives. Some expressed a renewed ability to trust and become vulnerable again.
It was a joy to be part of a great team of counsellors and coaches (and a medical doctor), encouraging and guiding dedicated followers of Jesus toward spiritual, emotional, relational, and missional health.
Please pray for these “at risk” missionaries and thank you for praying for us. Thank you for being a part seeing God’s kingdom and the Good News of Jesus spread around the globe through your prayers, friendship, and support.
Because of grace to rescue us…and His power to change lives,
Linus (and Sharon)