Missions Misunderstood » Blog Archive » The Devil Is In The Details

Posted May 12th, 2008 by E. Goodman

In the comments section of my last post Now Tell Us How You Really Feel, a reader asked about some of the details of my transition from the field back to the United States. In the past, I haven’t written as much about these sorts of details; partly to protect my anonymity, and partly out of my belief that we tend to focus too much on these details and not enough on the theory behind them.

“now that you are leaving the organization, and leaving the country where you serve, what will happen to the people whom you have worked with (the nationals) and what are you leaving them to go on with (the big ‘reproducibility question)?

Back in January, I wrote Nothing To See Here, Folks, a post about the intangibility of our relational ministry here. The fact that we only have relationships (not programs), means that my leaving only affects those people with whom I have spent time over the last couple of years. I really don’t see my move as “leaving” anyone, though. I plan to stay engaged in redemptive and discipling relationships with my friends from a distance. I have already planned my first return trip back here in the Fall.

I do wish that we were further down the road in terms of seeing a church established. It would be a thousand times better if I could leave friends with the support of a strong network of national believers. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I leave, I am struggling with the discrepancy between what I hoped to accomplish (God through me) and what I actually accomplished (not much, apparently). This weighed heavily on the timing of my decision to leave. To be honest (and really, why not?) , I suspect that this sense of guilt has kept me here on the field well past the time I knew I should leave.

“who is going to continue your work once you leave? is your team strong enough to keep the momentum going? have you all picked a new team-leader?”

As I mentioned above, I plan to continue (in one form or another), the work I started here. Our team is a different story. I’ve spent the last year or so working with some of my teammates to develop their strategies and thus help them reach a certain level of independence (strategically speaking). Due to circumstances beyond our control, the entire IMB team here will be leaving this summer. Work here is set to resume after the first of next year, and I doubt that my strategy (arts, social action, culture exchange) will be implemented by those who come behind me.

“do you feel that God has led you from point A to point B to point C, but may eventually lead you back to point B (at some point)? that asks a lot of you with regards to the will of God, but i’m just curious.”

My answer to this question sort of depends on what you mean by “back to point B.” If point B is where I live now (well, for the next two weeks), then my answer is yes, absolutely. But if by “point B” you were referring to the organization from which I am resigning, then I’m my answer would be no, not likely.

I’ve always seen this whole thing as a big adventure. I am pursuing what I believe to be God’s direction for my life, and while I often second guess His leadership (behind his back, of course), I’ve learned not to doubt His provision and sovereignty through it all. When I left the States for Western Europe, so much was unknown. I was in the (desirable) position of having to totally and completely depend on God. He was my only stability. Now that I’m moving back to the U.S., I happily find myself in that same situation.

Tags: continuing the work, leaving, moving, Team

Filed under:Ministry, Reflections, Relationships, Team