A few weeks ago we were at our sending agency, TEAM up in Wheaton, Il. Sending agencies handle the logistics of helping churches send missionaries. They handle all of our funding and benefits and also ensure that we are well emotionally and physically. Once you reach your destination, they provide support in your designated ministry area.
Going to our sending agency is another form of going home for us. It refreshes and inspires us every time. These folks have trekked with us since 2006 as we’ve prayed and considered committing our lives to serving overseas. They have shown us nothing but love and grace as we’e walked along this path.
We just finished PhaseIV training where we got all the nuts and bolts necessary to begin life in Austria. When we chose TEAM years ago as our sending agency we were drawn to the people. These are our friends, Steve and Jane who we met at a workshop at our church. They sold us on TEAM long before we even really understood what a sending agency was. Over the past several years these 2 specifically have been there cheering us on, praying for us and encouraging us at just the right moments.
Every time we are in Wheaton, we’ve met so many people who greet us with a pure excitement for where we are going. I love rubbing shoulders with people who have walked in our shoes and can offer encouragement from a place of having been there. These people know what it is like to commit years of your life serving away from “home.” They’ve raised families in the jungle of Papua while acting as medical missionaries, they have begun churches in Japan, and loved on folks from places I’ve never even heard of. I look at them and their unshakable faith and trust in the Lord and I so desire to be in that place. They have taken big risks and in many cases the costs have been high. But, even through their struggles, they have an attitude and posture about this life that I so want to have. To answer His call at whatever cost. Wow!
Being in Wheaton was like a breath of fresh air. The opportunity to be with others who understand the why behind the going. Whether it’s fellow missionaries being trained, those who have returned from their ministry areas and now work at headquarters, those in the mail room and special blog friends who just want to take you to lunch :-), they all get it and are genuinely excited to hear more. In many ways, there is a special type of community that I suspect we will only get when we come here.