Post-Field - Reconnect

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Returning Field Worker

Sender

Coming home gives you the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Often a lot has happened in your church and community while you have been away – people you knew may have moved away and people you don’t yet know have come in. There might even have been a change of leadership while you have been gone, or even (sadly) a church split! So you may be surprised by how unfamiliar it feels being back, because of the many changes. You too have been changed in incalculable ways by your intercultural journey.

Make good use of the time back to re-engage with your friends and make new ones. Hopefully, at least your support team will have remained intact, and they can be your sounding board for things you find hard. Be honest and vulnerable with them about what you are going through and give them the chance to minister God’s grace and healing to you.

One of the hardest challenges to deal with (and not take offence over!) is what we call ‘the 3-minute rule’. This is a phenomenon where someone in the church welcomes the returnee and asks expansively: “How was it for you over there?” The missionary gladly starts to answer, but then sees a glazed expression come over the face and the shutters go down behind the eyes. This person is not interested in all the details – what they really want to do is talk about what’s been going on at home while the person has been gone!

Clearly, in a public context (the main meeting) it may not be possible to give a longer focus but in the support group (PACT team) or in a smaller context it is essential that the real stories are heard and celebrated, painful memories are processed etc. The objective is for this precious warrior to sense that their story matters to those who sent them. Often there are many new faces and it could be hard to feel like they belong anymore. But they can be helped to belong again and to reconnect with you, the senders, afresh. That must be the goal, whether they are back for a short time or for good.

Returning Field Worker

Coming home gives you the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Often a lot has happened in your church and community while you have been away – people you knew may have moved away and people you don’t yet know have come in. There might even have been a change of leadership while you have been gone, or even (sadly) a church split! So you may be surprised by how unfamiliar it feels being back, because of the many changes. You too have been changed in incalculable ways by your intercultural journey.

Make good use of the time back to re-engage with your friends and make new ones. Hopefully, at least your support team will have remained intact, and they can be your sounding board for things you find hard. Be honest and vulnerable with them about what you are going through and give them the chance to minister God’s grace and healing to you.

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Sender

One of the hardest challenges to deal with (and not take offence over!) is what we call ‘the 3-minute rule’. This is a phenomenon where someone in the church welcomes the returnee and asks expansively: “How was it for you over there?” The missionary gladly starts to answer, but then sees a glazed expression come over the face and the shutters go down behind the eyes. This person is not interested in all the details – what they really want to do is talk about what’s been going on at home while the person has been gone!

Clearly, in a public context (the main meeting) it may not be possible to give a longer focus but in the support group (PACT team) or in a smaller context it is essential that the real stories are heard and celebrated, painful memories are processed etc. The objective is for this precious warrior to sense that their story matters to those who sent them. Often there are many new faces and it could be hard to feel like they belong anymore. But they can be helped to belong again and to reconnect with you, the senders, afresh. That must be the goal, whether they are back for a short time or for good.

Resources

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