IF ONE PART SUFFERS…

Liberian girlIn 1 Corinthians, Paul points out that there should be no division of compassion and concern in the body of Christ, but that “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…”(1 Cor.26).  We are challenged with this truth daily as we minister to hurting cross cultural workers, and also the people in the nations where they serve.

 


Ebola fighters

Ebola fighters

Respond…

SIM was one of the first groups to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by keeping doctors and healthcare workers on the field and beginning a global prayer campaign. But our commitment to the Liberian church and community is long-term. Over 24,000 people have been infected by Ebola and more than 10,000 have died.The people are traumatized and grieving, overwhelmed by the loss. How do those in the church care for one another and reach out to a hurting community? And in their personal suffering how do they also address the logistics of caring for thousands of orphaned children? The needs are still great..


 TH CrossProclaim…

We believe that Christ is our Sin-bearer and our Pain-bearer as well.
Now is the time for the Gospel to be lived out and spoken into the lives of hurting people. Through this ministry, God will be glorified and the church strengthened as the healing truths of His Word are shared in a way that requires relationship and oneness.
Through the Scripture-based Trauma Healing program, the path of healing goes directly to the Cross.


Liberia prayingEquip…

The Trauma Healing ministry is also sustainable. Local church and community leaders can learn to facilitate the program and lead healing groups. The Liberian church is asking us to bring the program to them!
We will do this beginning in April when we lead an Initial Equipping Session at SIM USA in Charlotte, NC for SIM missionaries and interested ministry partners working in West Africa ( click for info) Then, in July, Stacey and others will travel to Liberia to co-lead the first Initial Equipping Session (possibly two) for local pastors and community leaders.

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Answering in Faith

Visiting the team in Berdahl

Visiting the team in Berdahl

SIM logoIn mid February, Mark finally returned from his month-long travels to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Turkey. SIM has over 150 Gospel workers in Ethiopia, so it was important for him to visit different areas during his stay. Even so, it wasn’t near enough time to see every missionary who wanted a Chaplain visit. The SIM leadership in Ethiopia was very eager to embrace pastoral care for their team though, even offering us an official invitation to return and minister at their Spiritual Life Conference later this year (Dec 28). In faith, Mark went ahead and answered “Yes”. After all, this is exactly what we have prayed for: that the vision for missionary Pastoral Care will spread to every SIM team.

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Boot shining class…? Pastoral care covers a lot of topics!

For the last part of his trip, Mark was in Antalya, Turkey at the Global Member Care Conference. Attendees came from around the world to learn about caring for global workers -with an emphasis on those living in insecure areas. Since this is a topic that is personally dear to us, he enjoyed the insights from member care colleagues and the opportunity to dialogue with those from other organizations. He must have been busy because he forgot to take pictures in Turkey!!

Back in the US, Mark made it just in time to help me (Stacey) set up for a Trauma Healing Awareness Session I lead at SIM USA. This was an opportunity for me to share with key SIM Liberia and Guinea personnel (including Ebola-survivor Nancy Writebol and her husband Dave) how the TH program can help the Ebola-traumatized population there. Thousands of people have died and others are left grieving and alone . Survivors are stigmatized by fear and superstition. An orphan epidemic has stunned the church.  But they have heard about the trauma healing ministry in places like Nigeria, the Congo and South Sudan and the Liberian church is eager for SIM to introduce the program. Our first step will be leading an Initial Equipping Session here in Charlotte April 13-17.  This training will have a focus on oral learners in West Africa and we will use the new TH radio broadcasts that the Trauma Healing Institute has created especially to reach hurting Liberians! (Read a great TIME tribute to the Ebola fighters here)The goal of this training will be to equip Gospel workers to immediately go and begin leading Scripture-based healing groups using the TH materials

Once again we stepped out in faith to say “YES” to leading this training -first here and then Stacey will plan a trip to Liberia in July to train church and community leaders there. (SIM missionaries are already safely on the ground in small numbers now as Ebola cases have decreased.) Right now, we are working to have a special SIM project number assigned for giving.

In the mean time, if you are interested in helping fund our travels this year – either for the SIM Ethiopia team SLC or the Trauma Healing ministry  (and we anticipate more pastoral care travel for Mark) please click the picture below or follow directions on our How to Give page.  Thank you!

TRAVEL DONATIONS

TRAVEL DONATIONS

Dispatches from the field…

At a team dinner celebrating a birthday

At a team dinner celebrating a birthday

Stacey co-leads a Trauma Healing Advanced Equipping Session for 20 South Sudanese refugees in Kenya

Stacey co-leads a Trauma Healing Advanced Equipping Session for 20 South Sudanese refugees in Kenya

Security and Situational Awareness training from the Chaplain

Security and Situational Awareness training from the Chaplain

 

We just spent two weeks in Kenya offering pastoral care to the SIM South Sudan team and some members of SIM Kenya.  We had over 73 visits with missionaries during that time. The Lord constantly refreshed and renewed us thanks to your prayers. Also during those two weeks, Stacey was able to help lead the Advanced training of 20 South Sudanese in the Trauma Healing program. Mark took part in leading another class on Security and Situational Awareness. Keep in mind that the situation in South Sudan remains highly tenuous. Since there is always the potential for conflict, personal security training is important for all team members.

Mark leading a workshop for the SIM South Sudan team

Mark leading a workshop for the SIM South Sudan team

During our time with the team, we were also able to share the team results from a cross cultural stress assessment survey (CSA)and use these to help the team brainstorm good strategies for minimizing stress in the three key areas we identified from their report. It was a useful tool and lead to some great discussion. Besides the stress-assessment, Mark also lead a session on Internet Accountability.

Mark and Steve our SIM UK Director

Mark and Steve our SIM UK Director

The next few days were spent at the annual Spiritual Life retreat. The worship team this year came from Scotland and the speaker was SIM’s UK Director. Mark really enjoyed getting to know Steve -and may now finally be won over to cricket and rugby!

Both of us really enjoyed our time with the team and with local friends. It was good for us to return and be with them again. Its not always easy to explain what we do since Pastoral care involves confidentiality, but one of our SIM families wrote this very kind note and asked us to share it with you:

To the supporters of the Conards-
Words cannot express how deeply we as a family are appreciative of your empowerment of their ministry. This past week we had our annual spiritual life conference for our team and Mark and Stacey came out to offer member care to our team. This was such a healing ministry for us personally and the team as a whole. It was at times hard to find Mark and Stacey as they went on countless walks, and drank countless coffee listening, advising and praying with many in a confidential way. My husband and I met with them to review our safety policy and get input from someone outside of leadership (with jobs to fill) as to good and healthy ways to engage as a family those we so dearly love while  evaluating our child’s safety and well being. We really needed and valued from their advise, counsel, and empathetic listening ears.
   The number one reason missionaries leave the field is due to conflict with other missionaries and Mark and Stacey’s mediation and conflict resolution training have been so invaluable. Often it is just the simple act of listening that allows us to release the hurt done against us, even if it in unintentional and focus on what God has called us to do. In sending and supporting the Conards you send and support each of us as we serve. Thank you!
 It was difficult for me (Stacey) to leave at the end of two weeks, but at the same time I was ready to get back home to the kids! Mark continued his travels on to visit the SIM Ethiopia team which has almost 150 members -from all over the world! He wrote this after arriving in Adis Ababa:I(Mark) just arrived at the guest house in Ethiopia. The night I arrived I was scheduled to speak to the new arrivals about how they can stay healthy on the mission field. I would tell you what I talked about, but I can barely remember, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. After it was over I went to the guesthouse and slept like a rock, but then I had another presentation I was scheduled to give at 0830 the next morning. I was so thankful to God that this meeting with the Ethiopia leadership went well. I was given two hours to talk about what it is I and the member care team do for teams on the field. I discussed, the CSA Test, Mediation training, Trauma Healing, and Chaplain/Pastoral Care. A lot of great discussion came out of that meeting and it ended up going over in time because there were so many questions. Praise the Lord! I have already been meeting with missionaries since my arrival two days ago and I already have more appointments scheduled to meet with others in the days to come. I am also scheduled to fly to northern Ethiopia to meet with a team up there on Monday. Please be praying for the flight and for the meetings with this team. Blessings.

Mark will be in Ethiopia until February 7th and then on to a Global Member Care Conference in Turkey. He flies home on the 15th of February. Mark and I have officially been invited to return and provide Pastoral care for the SIM Ethiopia team’s Spiritual Life Conference Dec 28th later this year.

Mark standing outside Bingham Academy -a school for missionary kids in Ethiopia

Mark standing outside Bingham Academy -a school for missionary kids in Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Travel

We would appreciate your prayers as we fly to Nairobi via London tonight (January 9) arriving Saturday Jan 10th at 10pm.
Stacey begins teaching the Trauma a Healing Advanced Equipping Session Monday morning Jan 12th thru Friday the 16th during the day and meeting folks in the evenings. Mark will be meeting with SIM team members and offering Chaplain care and mediation all week We will also help out with conducting some team workshops the 16th and 19th. Late next week the 21-25th we accompany the SIM SSudan to their Spiritual Life Retreat. Pray for spiritual renewal, reconciliation,and growth for each missionary. Many are weary from living and working in tough environments. Pray that we will be able to offer encouragement and care.
Please also pray for our children here in the US and their granddad staying with them.Stacey will return to the US on Jan 26th and Mark will travel on to Ethiopia Jan 27- Feb 8 then Turkey til the 16th when he will fly home.
Thank you for praying!

from Our Family to Yours…

A Gift That Keeps Giving

ENCOURAGING NEWS!

Several South Sudanese men and women have established themselves as the “TRAUMA HEALING NETWORK ORGANIZATION FOR SOUTH SUDAN & NUBA MOUNTAINS” in Nairobi. In August, after our Basic TH training with them, eight of these new facilitators put their learning to the test and lead a week-long session of healing groups in the South Sudanese refugee community of Juja in Kenya. Twenty six people attended and were overjoyed to receive this care from their fellow Sudanese! This is what they said…

The (Trauma Healing) training was meaningful in our lives and we love it so much! We therefore ask your organization to kindly come for us again, and we truly thank God for the good work you people have taken upon yourself to help your own and restore the hope and the joy that were destroyed by the stress and the circumstances we passed through.”

One of the participants commented: “We were so lonely with no one to encourage us to see through life and have positive thinking, but now we feel that there are people who are thinking about us and truly you have come to us when we were not thinking anybody would one day do so.”

You might be surprised to find that the cost of the entire week of healing groups for 26 people was only $85US! With this small investment, our brothers and sisters were able to able to be the hands and feet of Christ to their hurting community.

Recently two BBC and VOA articles detailed the lack of mental health care in South Sudan. Both mentioned how deeply hurt the people are by many years of conflict and war. Everyone has been personally affected in some way by the violence. Yet, there are not enough facilities or caregivers to attend to the mentally and emotionally wounded. The Trauma Healing program is a Scripture-based way for hurting people to experience hope and healing in Christ and at the same time be trained to minister to others. In a very real sense, they are receiving and then giving pastoral care.

In January, we (Mark and Stacey) will be returning to Nairobi at the request of the SIM South Sudan team. We will provide Chaplain ministry as the missionaries come out of South Sudan for their annual Spiritual Life Retreat. Also during this time, Stacey will be co-leading a five-day Advanced Trauma Healing Training Session. There are at least 30 South Sudanese who attended our earlier Basic session in July and are now ready to move forward and complete their training! They have been busy in Juja and other South Sudanese communities leading healing groups. Now, we would like to see them certified to actually train other facilitators. However, as refugees, many of our students have difficulty raising conference fees. They are generally focused on basic life necessities. We try to keep the cost as low as possible and everyone pays a commitment fee of 500ksh (about $10US) as well as their own transportation.

The total cost for this training will be $35US per person. This provides for the venue fee, basic materials, and a snack and simple lunch each day for five days.  The cost for the entire training of 30 people total will be about $1000US. If you are interested in sponsoring one or more of our South Sudanese students for this training, please click the word SPONSOR below and leave a note in the comment box for us.  Remember, your gift will multiply as each student goes on to train others!

SPONSOR!

 

They Know Me Here

Our teenage daughter has a sign hanging in her room that says “I’m in my own little world. Don’t worry. They know me here.”

She has carried that thing through three military moves and to Africa and back.

Oh, to be known!

Transitions are painful. Sometimes painful as in sharp and stabbing, gut-wrenching. Sometimes painful as in that dull ache that will not really go away. Transition means move and change when maybe everything in us is longing for the comfort and security of the way things were – the familiar. Even when the familiar was not always perfect, at least we knew it and it knew us.

Transition usually means grief and loss. It can be messy and deep. On the surface, though, it may look neat, tidy, and manicured. But every now and then a weed of hurt will pop up, belying what is under the surface. No matter how well you try to make the change with “good” goodbyes, or how necessary it was, or how things all line up, there is still the sadness of leaving and beginning again.

I don’t know which is worse – saying goodbye to people and places you have come to love and trust, or reinventing yourself somewhere else where YOU are unknown and untrusted.

Missionaries seem to be in a near constant state of transition. This past month we met a new crew of them here in Charlotte. All are preparing for service abroad with SIM. God has called them to take the road less traveled and they are on their way. But it’s tough.  We know what they are heading into and as part of the Chaplain team here at SIM USA, we get the awesome privilege to speak a little encouragement into their lives during this pre-field training. Part of pastoral care means we had the fun of hosting both the ladies for a fun “Ladies Connect” and then the men for a “Men’s Only” night at our home. It helps us get to know them better before they go overseas. It also introduces them to the idea of Chaplain care and the many ways we are available to them in the future, both on the field and when they return for home assignment one day.

Mark's Badge of Honor

Mark’s Badge of Honor

Another fun thing that Mark especially enjoys is encouraging the new missionaries in their support-raising endeavors. Here at SIM we call it “Relationship Development Ministry” because we truly believe that we have an important relationship with our financial partners. Because inviting people to join your support team can be pretty daunting, Mark reminds new missionaries that just as God has called them to GO, He has called others in the church to SEND them! It is a joy to partner with churches and individuals and together see the Gospel spread to all nations.MarkSIMGoRDMpic2

There is also a growing vision in SIM USA for what the military calls “Family Readiness” as we work to do a better job of sending families who are better equipped -spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically…and I (Stacey)  am finding a niche in that as an “Educational Consultant” – specializing in home-school support.  Basically that means I keep doing one of the things I did in South Sudan and Kenya – I work with missionary families to develop an educational plan for their children and support them in doing it. This involves parent interviews, field visits, resourcing, etc. We are also working to develop a screening tool for families that will help with field placement, depending on the needs of the family. This type of care allows SIM USA to say YES to families who might otherwise be rejected by missions organizations because of the ages, learning challenges, or developmental needs of their children.

When not working with new folks, we are pretty busy following up with SIMers on the field who need care and also with those returning for home assignment. In January, Mark and I will head back to Nairobi for two weeks to work directly with the South Sudan team. Mark will remain in Kenya then visit some other fields before attending a Member Care conference in Turkey.  He is hoping to make three to four extended tours next year, visiting different SIM fields where pastoral care and Chaplain training is needed. His travel budget for this will be about $25,000. If you are interested in supporting this specific need, please click here

As a family, we are really enjoying the Fall season and the opportunity to be with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for the holidays. Katie is a part-time employee at Chik Fil A and Grace is volunteering at SIM part time (as school allows). The boys are busy with homeschool co-op activities. Thank you for praying for us!

The kids having  Nerf gun fun with the cousins.

The kids having Nerf gun fun with the cousins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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