Let me quickly introduce myself for those of you who may not know me or maybe weren’t at KSBC this past Sunday during the “Mission Far” emphasis. My name is Tonya Small, and I have been a KSBC-sent missionary for the past 11 years at Bethesda Outreach Ministries in South Africa. If you are not familiar with Bethesda and what’s happening there, I would encourage you to check our Facebook page, our website (www.bethesdaoutreach.org), or feel free to schedule a coffee with me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we can talk for as long as you’d like about Bethesda life.
I have now been back in the States for five weeks; that is officially one week longer than I have been in the US since I left. The elders asked if I would share an update about my time here and this opportunity for me to reconnect, renew, and rest.
Reconnect: This is going well! I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend this time in the States and have been able to focus the majority of my time here in the Lafayette area so I can reconnect with my own family and my Kossuth family. Over the course of my time in South Africa, the life of the church has carried on and changed just like I have carried on and changed. Sometimes as missionaries, we have the illusion that time stands still back at home, and I’m not sure anything could be farther from the truth. It was time for me to be around and do life with my “other church family.” I have gotten into a routine of serving and ministering alongside my South African church family as my “receiving church,” but I have missed a lot here. Part of being a ministry partner is that it is a partnership and not a funnel. I need to know the people that make up the body of the church, and I desire for people in the body to know me as well.
Renew: Reading is not my favorite past time, but I have earmarked a number of books that I am hoping to read during my time in the States. Most of these books I have chosen to challenge my thinking in the area of orphan care and help to renew a passion for orphan care ministry. The booklet I am currently going through (it’s probably taking me way longer than it would take most people) is Everyone Can Do Something: A Field Guide for Strategically Rallying Your Church around the Orphaned and Vulnerable by Jason Johnson. If you are looking for a quick read that gives a few ideas on how to get involved in orphan care, it would be a good read.
Another way I am hoping to both renew my own motivation for ministry and to reconnect with KSBC is by helping with a connection hour course focusing on “finding your fit” in orphan care. This will be a four-week course led by Mikel Berger during the connection hour starting the 25th of November and ending on the 16th of December. If you are at all interested in what you might be able to do to reflect God’s heart for the fatherless, even if you are not in a position to adopt or do foster care yourself, this would be a great class for you to get involved with. We hope to make it extremely practical and have a few guest speakers lined up to hopefully give some good perspective.
Rest: This is probably the hardest of my three goals to meet. Having gotten used to always being busy and having meetings during my previous, rushed trips to the States, being overly committed is a difficult habit to break. I tend to think that keeping busy is the best way for me to serve the Lord and encourage others. Every once in a while, I need the reminder that this is actually a rather proud way of thinking. If even Christ needed to take time away from people to rest in the midst of chaos and ministry, how dare I think I don’t need to rest!