COMING HOME: What’s really here for them?
WHEN MISSIONARIES come home from the field, it’s never the easiest time of their life, or the easiest decision to make. In the November 25th, 2013 edition of the Christian Standard magazine, an article appeared that, when I read it, it made me really think about what they go through in those trying times.
IN THAT ARTICLE, the author, Carla Williams, does an excellent job of describing in detail some of the pressing reasons why the decision to come home from the mission field might have to be made. I highly recommend getting a copy of that article (online at the time of this writing) at http://www.christianstandard.com/2013/11/coming-home-when-missionaries-come-off-the-field/
ALL OF HER POINTS are valid. But she misses one main reason, or at least glosses over it, that missionaries decide to come home. But that reason is the reason Dove Cottage Ministries was born. When a Christian individual, or a Christian couple or family have served their lifetime in service to their Lord and His people in a strange land, and it is time to “retire”, what do they have to “come home to”? As Ms. Williams points out, the world has changed while they were away. Thirty years represents a LOT of change. What they left is no longer there. Parents have gone on to be with the Lord, kids have scattered to the ends of the country or further, the church they belonged to that sent them out 30 years ago has new leadership, new membership, new everything, and they have not been there during the interim period to “grow with the changes”. Think back to the day when you left home to “make your way in the world” 30 years ago. Is anything the same as it was then? If you were to move back to the neighborhood you grew up in, would you feel instantly comfortable, or would you feel out of place? Now multiply that by the factors of having lived in a different culture, perhaps speaking a different language, certainly doing a different job than the folks you knew back then. As I said, a LOT of change.
WHAT THEY ARE coming home to is a new country, a new town, a new community, even a new church, and they are the strangers in their own home town. They may even have kept up communications during their stay in their mission homeland, but an occasional letter or phone call (even with the miracles of Skype), just does not replace the day-to-day interaction of being an active member of the church community. Our hope, through Dove Cottage Ministries, is to give retiring missionaries the opportunity to have a “place to come home to”, to let them “join our family” while they rebuild their lives here in the United States. Simple things like opening a checking account, making contact with old friends, finding a church home, and finding a house, home or apartment can be a challenge for folks who suddenly find themselves with no income, no place to call home, no base to operate out of. They will be welcome here at Dove Cottage, for as long as it takes to get established and find a place of their own.
WHILE WE ARE located near Cincinnati, Ohio, our vision is to see an entire network of like-minded places open up with this same vision: to help missionaries who are coming home from the mission field to get re-established in the country of their birth, and transitioning into a satisfying life in their retirement years. As the network grows, we will be able to assist missionaries that are returning home for whatever reason, but for now, our vision is to focus on the lifetime servants of our Saviour.
IN MY NEXT article, I hope to share some of the background on the renovations that are taking place at Dove Cottage, the home we will share with God’s missionaries. It was a shell of an antebellum home when we got it, and though we are not rich, we are completely renovating it to make it comfortable for our guests. We look forward to the day when everything is back together and we can invite guests to “kick off their shoes and stay with us for a spell”.