Building Relationships Across Borders: How Global Partners Missionaries Remain Connected
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Scripture continuously points us toward fellowship and community with one another, and so did the life of Jesus. In times of joy, it’s important to have those who will celebrate with you. In times of pain, it’s necessary to have people who will sit in that with you. Especially after living through a pandemic, I think we all understand on a new level just how much we need each other.
The same is true for missionaries around the globe. While they aren’t close enough in proximity to see each other in person on a regular basis, our missionaries are grouped into regional teams that typically aim to meet or pray together virtually on a semi-regular basis. Some are even friends with missionaries beyond their regions.
For example, the Cambodia team typically meets once per week for prayer, twice per month for team outings and once per year for a retreat. The Czech Republic team meets online once per month and will travel to Brno at least three times per year. The Turkic-Arabic area meets twice weekly, and so on.
These relationships bless missionaries in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s praying together over a missionary kid and witnessing healing in front of them, or simply being encouraged by the testimonies their teammates are witnessing – the list is endless.
*Luke Smith, Turkic-Arabic area director, said the relationships with other missionaries are very important for providing continual perspective and accountability. He also compared the relationships to that of a family – “our children become like cousins as we continue to build on shared life experiences and help one another through challenging times,” he said.
Despite any discouragement or lack of “results/fruit” within their own ministries, Global Partners (GP) missionaries are able to be cheerleaders for each other. Cambodia Mission Director, Tiffany Gallant, said “perspective is everything,” and it helps to consider the ministries as part of the Lord’s harvest, not something that belongs to His workers. Some workers get to bring the harvest in, while others must do a lot of weeding so a new crop can be planted.
“Whatever season of the harvest we are in, we can celebrate because we know the outcome,” she said.
Luke said the Turkic-Arabic team is intentional in praying for each other as well as for people outside of their team. In long seasons of not seeing fruit, he said they have a greater appreciation when others do.
Many missionaries find encouragement, prayer and advice in their relationships with fellow missionaries. Tiffany added that they also gain a wealth of knowledge from the difference in perspectives among other missionaries.
“Because of our different locations of ministry and years of service, we all have different viewpoints from which we are ministering,” she said. “We can gain a better understanding of our Savior’s heart when we look at situations from these different points of view.”
Not only do they learn from each other, but Cindy Austin, a Czech Republic missionary, said they love to brainstorm with each other and learn from one another’s successes and mistakes.
This sense of community across the many miles and borders between GP missionaries is strong enough to provide strength, inspiration and motivation – and as a result, resilience to remain committed to the places in which they serve.
Simply saying “we were mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” is an understatement, Tiffany said.
These relationships and their significance don’t happen overnight. It comes from a place of intentionality, which is typically established from the beginning when a new teammate arrives.
The teams provide new missionaries with a variety of tools to welcome them into their new home. This ranges from a place to stay while they find a home, help with cultural tips, and some even provide a curriculum for the new missionaries to work through as they adjust to the new country.
All in all, GP missionaries are not setting out on this journey alone, nor should they. Just like anyone, their lives require community and fellowship.
“We were never meant to be ‘lone rangers’ off on a continent, suffering for the Lord by ourselves,” Tiffany said. “We were created for community and His Kingdom work is accomplished through His body working together.”
*Name has been changed due to security guidelines.