This is the second post in Facilitating the Mission’s series on missionary debriefing. The first is simply titled Missionary Debriefing.
The path that missionaries walk from life and ministry on the mission field back to life back in America is bristling with dangers to their spiritual, emotional, and social health.
When the stress-filled final few months on the field, and the first few months of the plunge back in to life at “home” are piled on top of the never ending culture-stress that every missionary experiences by just living on the mission field, it isn’t hard to understand why returning is much more perilous than originally going was.
This reality is one of the reasons why every one who knows and loves them should strongly encourage returned missionaries to accept the special gift of debriefing that God has moved their fellow global servants to create and offer to them as an expression of His love.
Missionary debriefing is a relational and intentional process that provides an opportunity for a missionary to tell their story—by verbally processing past and recent events from their point of view, complete with their emotional responses at the time and since then.
When a missionary receives the gift of debriefing, they are both REFRESHED and REALIGNED for the new season of life and ministry that God has for them.
Here are seven reasons why the gift of debriefing REFRESHES the missionaries who receive it:
- Knowing that a fellow believer has taken the time to understand what missionaries experience and then prepared themselves to be a good listener and encourager, and that this person has also blocked out a large portion of their valuable time in order to debrief them, is refreshing to a missionary.
- As stressful as fitting the debriefing in to their schedule might be, intentionally stepping off the high speed merry-go-round that life in the U.S. feels like in order to take a couple of days to unpack and reflect on what they experienced over there, and since they have returned, is refreshing to a missionary.
- Being encouraged that this season of feeling disoriented, misunderstood, disconnected, overwhelmed, and frustrated—is normal, and that it will come to an end, is refreshing to a missionary.
- Being equipped with tools that will help them navigate and cut a path through the jungle of remaining challenges they will encounter as their transition continues is refreshing to a missionary.
- Learning how they can view their life back in America through the same lens and with the same mindset that made it possible for them to live and minister successfully on the mission field is refreshing to a missionary.
- Believing that they have begun or furthered a relationship with someone who they’ve shared so much of their life and story with, and that the relationship will continue and deepen in this life and carry on in to the next, is refreshing to a missionary.
- Resting in the reality that what they have gone through, and what they have come to understand about God and themselves through the process, are treasures that they can draw from to bless other global servants is refreshing to a missionary
Shepherd’s Staff believes that all missionaries, but especially missionaries that have returned to life in America need to be REFRESHED, and that debriefing is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to provide it.
But more than refreshment is necessary for what God has in store for missionaries that have returned to America. They must also be REALIGNED, and debriefing accomplishes that purpose too.
Pastor Jeff Jackson is the founder of Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators and currently serves as the director of Church Relationships and Missionary Care. Jeff previously served with his family as church planters in the central Philippines and in the United States.