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:
- A Life Overseas
- Taking Route
- Velvet Ashes
- Rocky Re-Entry
- Tending Scattered Wool
- Kids Without Borders
- Raising TCKs
- 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:
- 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.
- 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!