Caring Cross-Culturally: Essentials for Third Culture Support
Created by itsa on 6/25/2016 5:58:19 PM


The need for the body of Christ to support and care for His cross cultural workers as they mobilize to and repatriate from the field is enormous. This need has become more apparent and increasingly urgent in recent years. God has raised up groups of people across Canada who are calling the body to serve our workers cooperatively.

In Manitoba, passionate people with mission training and sending organizations have responded to the need by working closely together to accomplish something they were unable to do alone.

A vision for Expatriate Care, born out of difficulty, pain and loss, has translated into a vision for a Third Culture Care Centre in Manitoba. These passionate people are building a network to provide care for missionaries and their families following overseas assignments. They include the MB Mission, Mennonite Church Canada, the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference, TeachBeyond, Avant Canada, Providence University College and Seminary, and Steinbach Bible College. Outreach Canada and the Canadian MK Network have assisted to help bring dreams to reality.

The first Symposium at Providence (2015) raised the awareness of the need for such care with 42 people in attendance. Recently (May 2016) the second Symposium strengthened the call to join together and serve. 110 people attended (Fort Garry MB Church and Providence), representing 20 mission org’s and 3 churches.

“Third Culture people” are those who come from one culture and live a significant portion of their lives in another. Their cross cultural experience makes them able to be “at home” away from their passport culture, yet feeling never fully at home wherever they live. Providing supportive care for these people requires resources beyond the capacity of any one organization.

In Manitoba, passionate people with mission training and sending organizations have responded to the need by working closely together to accomplish something they were unable to do alone.

The symposium focused especially on families in cross cultural assignments, with a goal of moving towards a Centre or network that can help mission org’s and congregations to provide spiritual, emotional, and mental care for the workers we send and receive.

Duncan and Olwyn Westwood from the Missionary Health Institute in Toronto were the resource people for a wonderful and intense weekend. Using their personal stories as a framework, they delivered insights with practical ways to apply their teaching. As cross cultural workers they have provided care for workers in crisis on the field, and across Canada. Duncan’s PhD in expatriate care has led him to teaching at Providence Theological Seminary (1997-2000) and as a Psychologist on staff with the Missionary Health Institute (2000-present).

Duncan provided an overview of the risks that these workers and their families face, and emphasized the need to develop resiliency to face these risks. A key insight is his statement, “There can be risks without resiliency, but there can be no resiliency without risk.” Problems can overwhelm us; but we cannot grow unless we work through the problems of life.

Duncan and Olwyn taught of the upward, inward, and outward journeys with which we develop resiliency and manage risk. Through their descriptions and in breakout sessions participants gained important insights into ways to face a life filled with risks while serving Christ.

Special thanks go to the worship team and the prayer team put together by the MB Missions office (thanks to Lloyd Letkeman and Kara Friesen). Thanks also to Paul Dyck of Outreach Canada and the Canadian MK Network, who used his extensive organizational skills and network to promote the event.

Charis Kehler from Portage, Abe Giesbrecht of GoMission, and Tim Froese of Mennonite Church Witness also provided leadership in the ad hoc group’s planning committee, alongside Daryl Climenhaga of Providence Theological Seminary.

 

 

A third symposium is being planned for May 26-27, 2017 with the focus on the creation of a Third Culture Care centre/network being birthed. We invite questions and expressions of interest from anyone who wants to know more. Contact Daryl Climenhaga at daryl.climenhaga@prov.ca, Paul Dyck at pdyck@outreach.ca, and Charis Kehler at cckehler@gmail.com

 

 
 
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