In 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.
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..
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.
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.
In 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!