Resources For Men Serving Cross-Culturally

by Amy Young on September 28, 2015

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I received the following email from a man I’d met at MTI’s Debriefing and Renewal. Brian, his wife, and I were in the same debriefing group.

I was recently talking to a former missionary friend of mine who was going through some tough times in his re-entry to the States despite the fact that he has landed in a great job and community.  His talk about loneliness stuck out to me and got me thinking a little bit.  Do you know of a ministry like yours that focuses on mentoring, coming alongside and creating community for men throughout their missionary journey?  Any links, suggestions or resources you could pass on would be great.

The “like yours” is referring to Velvet Ashes. I know, and love, that men read the articles written for Velvet Ashes. But since the target audience is women, I also know men aren’t going to feel free to comment and engage in the same way.

This was my response:

You have tapped on something I think is lacking in the mission community — good support for men. So, sadly, no, I don’t know of much. Has he heard of the website Rocky Reentry? Not just for women. Or contacting Barnabas?

AND if it’s any consolation, I’d say that I’m similar to your friend. Good job, good community, but at times lonely. Last spring I started meeting with a spiritual director and that’s been a game changer. I didn’t need counseling, but I did need someone to help me sort out what’s going on in my soul :). So, that might be a suggestion that helps.

*****

My response has stuck with me in the weeks he emailed because it feels, well, so inadequate. I’m thrilled to see all that it blossoming on the web for cross-cultural workers. This summer I was a guest lecture for a class on missions and member care and I shared with them “10 Websites you need to know if you’re interested in Missions and Member Care.” A list I compiled trying to highlight the variety of online resources that exist now and was glad I had. In the classroom students had stacks of books around them. I’m all for books, but my hope was to show the more human, relatable side the internet can provide. Here it is:

  1. Thrive
  2.  A Life Overseas
  3. Taking Route
  4. Velvet Ashes 
  5. Paracletos 
  6. Rocky Re-Entry 
  7. Tending Scattered Wool
  8. Kids Without Borders 
  9. Raising TCKs 
  10. Market to Meal 

What stood out to me then, and I saw reflected in my response to my friend, is how very female heavy these resources are. Oddly, when so much of the world seems to have started out male dominated and has needed to create a space for women to be heard, we seem to be the opposite.

Two things I’d like to say:

  1. You have to start somewhere. I’m not sad or happy it started with women, I’m neutral. What would make me sad, is if it stays female dominated.
  2. As a woman, there could be FAR more resources out there for men than I realize.

Can you help me (us really)? In the comments can you list other resources? Let’s continue to curate lists of resources so that as people ask us if we know of any, we have them to offer. And if the Holy Spirit is stirring in you to start something or get involved somewhere … Go For It!!

Thanks for any resources!

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About Amy Young

When Amy Young first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words needed in life, right?! She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. The tag is “where grace and truth reside.” People tend to be drawn to grace, grace, grace OR truth, truth, truth. Either side doesn’t require much discipline, do they? Instead they foster auto-pilot living. But real life happens … in the messy middle, with both. It can be maddening, right? But also exhilarating! She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as content creator and curator, book club host, and connection group coordinator. Her book Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service was written with you in mind. It also has two companion resources: 22 Activities for Families in Transitions and Looming Transitions Workbook.
  • Joyce Coulter

    I wanted to check out your number one pick, “Thrive,” but when I click on the link it takes me to a mostly blank page that just says, “This domain is not for sale.” Is that happening to anyone else? Is there another way to access that web page? Thanks!

    • YIKES! Will go fix that RIGHT now. Thanks … and I’ll check the others too.

      • Joyce Coulter

        Thanks– works great now! 🙂

    • Got it fixed and checked the others … all work!

  • Marilyn Gardner

    Two resources from our own community: Our new mothly writer Craig Thomspson has a site http://clearingcustoms.net/ and his stuff is great; and Jonathan Trotter who not only writes excellent pieces here, but also writes on he and Elizabeth’s blog. http://trotters41.com/

    • Marilyn, this is one quality that draws me so much to A Life Overseas … I love hearing from men. And I want more :). I was talking with a male missionary who is writing a memoir (good grief, that’s a lot of “m'” in one sentence!) and I encouraged him to get it done and out to all of us :)!!

    • AND I forgot to say thanks — especially for Craig Thompson’s site, I’ll add it to my feedly reader and mental list. Jonathan Trotter is one of my favorite voices to read too (male or female) — and I love hearing from him and Elizabeth. What a gift that they both write!!!

      • Marilyn Gardner

        I know! I love that too. I also LOVE that we have your voice in the community. Thank you.

  • Here is another site of resources available: http://www.missionary-care.org/index.html

  • Another – for families http://www.figt.org/page-1114038

    • Marcy, what a great list … I had heard of some of those before and others were new! Thanks for making all of us aware of them. Super helpful! Thanks.

  • Great topic. I was just talking to my wife last week about how it seems there are so many more women than men in the missionary blogging world. While I wish the number of men would increase, I don’t want the number of women to decrease. As for resource suggestions, I’ll put in a plug for Member Care Media at http://membercareradio.com.

    • Craig, first of all, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve added him to my feedly (and I’m the main curator for Velvet Ashes’ “Have You Seen” so would love to start having more male voices there too!). I agree, we don’t want less of hearing from women, just more of hearing from men. What I love about the internet and God (love it about God more), is that there is plenty of space. I believe what is at the core good for women is good for men and vice versa. Being heard, challenged, and encouraged are valued and needed by us all.

  • sistersncloth

    This is the reality where we serve as well. We have several staff care people… All women. 2 professional counselors recently came – both women. We have numerous women’s Bible studies. I’m not sure where a man is supposed to turn.

    • This might be but a drop in the bucket, but if the men in your organization kept asking for a male member care person, it might help. Right now, many the leaders know it’s a “problem,” but because people aren’t raising it as a “problem” it’s easy to keep pushing it to the back.

      • Nathanael Davis

        I will say along with my other comments above although I have a pastoral care person I do feel I like in simple friendship companion ship. Guys don’t like to chat on the hone with each other. My guy friends in the sates and I have a great relationship when I see them after church and out and about in town, but picking up the phone to hang out for 20 min is tough for them. Sounds like I shouldn’t complain though, I feel I have more support than many on this site. When I am back stateside next I will approach a few guys and ask to set something up with them to fill this need for me. I think if I explain the need they will chat with me for 20 min.

  • Also, not a missionary site per se, but Steve Smith blogs at http://www.steveandgwensmith.com. Steve is an author who specializes in soul care and finding rhythm in our over-busy lives. They are former missionaries and were our facilitators at MTI’s DAR when we came off the field.

    • Thank you! I’m off to check him out and add him to my list of resources!

      • Okay, note to self, check out, then respond! I just put two and two together … I love Steve’s book on Soul Care! Glad to be connected to his blog. Thanks!

  • Korinne Holt

    Any leads on how to FIND a spiritual director-type person while still serving overseas? I know of zero Christian counselors or even that type of person to contact in person where I live. But with skype available (at least part of the time) here, at least I imagine that as an option if I could just find out people to contact. I am a female but I have male family members (husband and young adult son) here with me who could benefit from such a person.

    • Andrew Dickson

      Hi Korinne. I’ve spent a decade in East Africa in a number of expat and missionary roles. The lack of pastoral care resources for missionaries (and expats) led to God challenging me to be a part of answering that need. I have since trained as a counsellor and we are now in the process of working towards a role in the field. I am drawn to the spiritual encouragement and direction role just as much as to the typical counselling role. In fact if more of it was done the need for counselling would diminish! Much rather invest in prevention than cure if I had the choice. All that to say that I have served clients via skype and am interested in helping other men this way as the Lord directs.

    • I’ve got an idea and am tracking it down (well, two actually). I’ll list them here when I find them!

      • See above … I didn’t put them here. One on coaching and one on spiritual direction.

    • ChristenB

      Korinne , Where do you live? There’s a Christian counseling center in Turkey for cross cultural workers. http://Www.olivetreecounseling.com there is also Tumaini (?) in Kenya, and two established counseling centers in Chaing Mai, Thailand. There’s a certified spiritual director living in Turkey who has created a home that people can stay in, rest, and meet with her for spiritual direction. Hope one of these could help you!

    • Hi Korinne, my friend got back with me with one resource … I’m tracking down another. This is what she wrote to me:

      Coaching Mission International (CMI) provides professional coaching to cross cultural workers at a significantly reduced fee. CMI’s vision is that every global worker be empowered by the transformational impact of cross cultural, Christ-centered coaching.

      To explore what coaching packages CMI offers to men (and women): http://cmiprograms.org/coaching/bridges-registration/

      To find out more about CMI: http://www.coachingmission.com/about/

      • I thought I was hitting “return” to add another comment, but I submitted it. Oops! Sorry :)! What I wanted to add is that Coaching and Spiritual Discipline are different and I GET that. But I also think that because this is from a Christian Perspective it will have more of a Spiritual Integration piece than what one might think of with Coaching.

    • Here’s another one … the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (http://www.ecswisdom.org/esda/directors). They have a list of directors that can be sorted by gender, and they also list who does Skype.

      AND I’m working on a post about Spiritual Direction for November (Okay, I’m working with a spiritual director on a post!)

    • Nathanael Davis

      I hope you have been able to track someone down. Our org requires us to have a pastoral care person before we leave. The couple we have for pastoral care are our sending church’s assistant pastor and wife who were missionaries before they became pastor. We meet every other week via Skype for about an hr. Every other time is together as a couple and then separate with each individually. Perhaps your mission org has some retired missionaries who could do a similar thing with you. I hope some of this helps.

  • Great post, Amy. In fact, I talked with a guy last week who was talking about how much we needed a Velvet Ashes for men. : )

  • ChristenB

    I love it when my husband contributes his perspective on life overseas to our blog. http://Www.christenandtony.com . Since he is a therapist himself, we really try to be authentic in our own brokenness and struggles as we invite others to do the same with us. So happy to find a community of likeminded people here.

    • ChristenB — I’ve added this to my feedly reader and look forward to hearing from you AND your husband!

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