The Very Next Thing…for 2021…or for Whenever

When 2021 began my thoughts along the topic of a new year arriving reflect the struggle we had then, and from which we are not fully free yet.

Here is how I started a new post then:

“The new year has begun, and here is where we are:

— No internet in our house for the past 21 days (in spite of visits from 6 company technicians, and multiple calls to the internet provider!).

— The city of Santiago is back in quarantine on the weekends, meaning there is not going out of the house without a police permit.

— A vacation trip we had planned to the northern city of Iquique was cancelled by the airline.

This song expresses our feelings, not only today, but in many moments during this pandemic. Perhaps they will speak purpose and decision into your day too:

“I spend all my time,
Dreaming what the future’s gonna bring.
When all of this time,
There’s a world passing by right in front of me.
Set my sights on tomorrow,
While I’m tripping over today.

Who says big things,
Are somewhere off in the distance.
I don’t want to look back,
Just to see all the times, that I missed it.
I want to be here and now,
Starting right here, right now.

With the very next words,
Of love to be spoken.
To the very next heart,
That’s shattered and broken.
To the very next way,
You’re gonna use me.
Show me the next thing,
I’ll do the next thing.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on

How often during these 18 months of quarantine have I had to recalibrate my plans. How often has government restrictions on public meetings made personal interaction and fellowship impossible. How many cancelled plans and trips have made me put something on hold! So now, today, and often, I repeat these words to myself! Not only to myself, but to our family, enclosed and cloistered, in the long periods of waiting.

This brief reflection was written in February 2021. But I still chose to publish it for a couple reasons:

  • I am reminded that every day is a gift from the hand of God. Whether in lockdown or on vacation (we did take trip this year in January! 2022), our lives are in His hands.
  • The brevity of life means we don’t live anticipating something off in the near or distant future. We live to bring life, hope, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone near us–TODAY!
  • And especially because we have come to see how shattered and broken the world really is…which is why we are here in Santiago, Chile in the first place.

The very next thing is indeed the most important thing God asks of you. Keep watch…and obey.

David L. Rogers

Now, having dealt a full 22 months with the virus, and rounding the corner for 23 months, as of February 2022, our world still struggles with fear from the virus of COVID-19. Yesterday’s worship service had almost as many people present at the church building as were present online. This would not be a concern, except for at least three of those families have said they will not return to in-house services “until this thing is over.” Just how long will that be?

The fact of the matter is, ministry has changed permanently, or so it seems. Life has changed permanently in many ways. And change after change still is redirecting or reshaping our lives. Now the question is simply: how do we make the most of the reality we now live with?

One way to make the most of our new reality is to work extra hard at intersecting with those people who are nearest, those whom you see most often. In other words, work to sure that each time, as many or as few time that you meet, that you take time to talk about eternity!

Another way is to purposefully reach out to those you know in similar situations. Our national Chilean pastors and their families have all faced hardship in some way or another. Thus, we can make it a point to help them bear their burdens by showing our concern through a personal note, a call or a visit.

Finally, we can make good use of the “new normal” by explaining to our own families how to be alerted to the unexpected opportunities. This coming Sunday is Super Bowl 2022, and our ministry team have all been invited over to our home to share the game together. But not only missionaries are being invitied, so are our Chilean brethren. Most of them say the “do not understand American football,” but I am sure that they will understand the language of fellowship in Christ that we can share with them while watching it…not to mention a few laughs as we see their puzzled look on their face about what a “saftey” is or why the punter kicked the ball after just 3 downs!

David L. Rogers, M.A. Min,

Santiago, Chile

  • Lyrics by Bernie Herms / John Mark Hall / Matthew Joseph West, Casting Crowns. The Very Next Thing © G650 Music, Pure Note Music, Highly Combustible Music, House Of Story Music Publishing, Songs Of Universal Inc., One77 Songs.
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How to Keep your Missionaries Healthy and Happy

Do you really want to know the answer to this question?

Okay, here we go! First, find out what they need, what are their health issues, and ask what are their limitations. Now I am not only referring to dietary needs. I am speaking of spiritual and emotional needs. Add to those their family needs and their financial needs, and you will have a full course meal…of ways to encourage your missionaries.

Now don’t get me wrong, no missionary expects you to meet all those needs! You can just take a stab at one on them or perhaps two, and you will see a grateful response. And when he or she senses that you are genuinely interested in their well being, that alone will make all the difference in the world.

Second , after becoming intelligently informed about their needs, move toward a closer step of involvement. Ask him or her something like “what are your concerns about the future, or about your family or your ministry?” The question may provide some great conversation, and that is a time where you can listen, observe, probe if necessary and especially uplift. Some of our missionary colleagues have confided in us, upon returning to Chile after a furlough, that no one really stopped to listen, or to open the topics of heart-felt concern in their lives. Most church-goers were content to let the conversation stay on the superficial level. They missed the chance to provide care and encouragement to a person who really needed it.

Third, a missionary’s spiritual, emotional and family health depend on relationships in their country of service. Therefore, to encourage and to build up a missionary, ask how close he or she is with his or her fellow colleagues. Ask something like, “what do you do for fun with your missionary team?” Or ask, “what would be a favorite memory of time spent with your mission team?”

Ask things like “do you and you children have regular time to relax, play, learn and worship together?” The pressures of life in another country (like travel in a large city which can absorb large amounts of time and energy) coupled with the burden of needs and struggles of those they are discipling wears on emotions and spirit. This is why it is crucial for a family, a husband and wife and single missionaries to set aside regular time to renew themselves.

Missionaries and friends

Visiting Work Team from Cherry Hill, NJ, out to see the Andes Mountains

Several years ago our Chile team went on a prayer and planning retreat. This was a special event, because it was for men only and it had been about 3 years since the last retreat. Although focused on the need to discuss long term plans and priorities as a team, the meal time, prepared by fellow missionaries, and the evenings sat talking together, rendered some really hilarious and relaxing interaction. To some of the men, these kinds of trips are tedious and unpleasant. But after three days together, about 8 meals, some late night conversations and fun, everyone could see the tremendous value to such an event. Even the most skeptical were expressing gratitude for the retreat because it had deepened our friendships one with another.

Seek to Understand their Unique needs

For our family the past year (2020) demanded we learn to live kind of like under “house arrest.” A missionary we serve with compared it to being in solitary confinement, since her apartment is located a few miles away from any other of her teammates. The reason? The world wide pandemic called COVID-19. While an uncommon situation, these circumstances left her feeling lonely, exhausted and frustrated.

Such needs can be found in many mission contexts around the globe. As with an illness, a sense of isolation can creep in, leaving the missionary vulnerable to deep unmet needs. After all, missionaries are supposed to be strong and self-reliant, right!?

Wrong! Keep in mind that your missionary may be treading water, emotionally, because they lack an adequate support team, they may not know how or to whom they can express their needs.

Find out the Needs First, then Offer Encouragement

Another matter to consider is the needs of their children. This is where expectations and unrealized plans of a teen or adult child comes into play. For many, the transition to college, following high school graduation, is when they feel a huge amount of uncertainty and fear. The teen wants to stretch their wings, wants to become independent, but the costs, the logistics and the unknown circumstances once he or she arrives in their country of study can be overwhelming!

This is a time for the home church, friend and supporters to reach out, to lend a hand (in matters such as helping the teen get their driver’s license, or in getting accustomed to banking practices) can make a huge difference! Our family has been ministered to in huge ways by friends from our home church who did things like take our oldest daughter out to practice driving, or who made room for them to rent a room while at college and others who had the space and resources to let them live in their home for the summer. These are major transitional moments when the missionary family truly needs assistance and such timely helps really make a massive difference.

There are many other needs, situations, concerns or challenges a missionary faces as they advance through the years of ministry. Your missionaries will probably enjoy a more fruitful life of service if they sense the concern and involvement of others in their stages of life. As our Regional Director often says to our mission team, learning to “paraklete” or come to the aid of one another is what God has called us to as His servants worldwide.

David L. Rogers, M.A. Min.

Santiago, Chile

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When Will All People Be Treated Equally?

Inequality, injustice and indifference all have one thing in common: they weaken a society.

Have any changes been made to strengthen our society? To answer that let us begin by recalling several milestone changes in how our country viewed specific groups of people. For instance, concerning slavery, recall that in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the Emancipation Proclamation. Concerning women, recall that in the United States women were granted the right to vote only after an Amendment (the 19th Amendment adopted August 8, 1920). And who can forget that in 1965 Congress passed a law to allow cities to transport students –our children– who lived outside one particular township to another for the sake of attending public schools (this was not enforced until 1970, however).

Once these amendments or bills were passed was racial equality achieved? NOT by a long shot! Equality is not merely a matter of legal or formal treatment or the status of a particular group before the government. The Jews were, and often still are, treated with contempt after WW II in Europe. The Japanese feel at times ostracized as a fallout of WW II prejudice caused by the attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Today it is our Muslim friends who feel this same suspicion. And in some towns even the person of color (any color) is questioned or inspected with more frequency by the local authorities because they have more pigmentation in their skin color.

Equality will not be achieved simply by forcing it or by declaring it. When will the Afro-American, the Native American, the Asian American or the Hispanic not be assumed to be inferior or weaker or a miser or a cheat? One key step is for people of all races, all skin colors, all ethnic origins and all national heritages to acknowledge this powerful truth:

He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth…He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created ALL THE NATIONS THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH. (NLT, Acts 17:24-26, Tyndale House Publ.)

Racism, inequality, and prejudice toward those of other skin color or other ethnic original can be removed, and our treatment of one another transformed, when we understand that God has created all people from one man. And by reminding ourselves that we will answer to the Creator for our attitudes and treatment of those different than ourselves!

As this issue continues to burden churches and towns, it also generates fears, doubts and feelings of superiority that are easily camouflaged by artificial barriers (like speaking of those who ‘live on the other side of the tracks’) or by means of comfort and customs that demean those different than oneself. What is the result? Not only is America as a society weakened, but for similar causes the Church of Jesus Christ is also injured, splintered, and sometimes even put on a path of intentional accusations and fault-finding. Or sometimes worse!

That condition has but one answer: the application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Churches everywhere, of all types, and creeds and social or ethnic composition will do well to stop using traditional labels and comfortable groups as they serve the needy, the outcast or the immigrant. No doubt there are questions to answer concerning how and when it is appropriate to offer work or gift some medicine or clothing to an socially outcast person. If you are seeking guidance to work through those questions as you develop a more robust and proactive mission to those in need, read this book: When Helping Hurts (by Steve Corbett and Brian Finkert, see the ebook here.)

No one book or person can give all the answers, but it will move you toward not only rethinking race, ethnicity and sociological groups, it will be a stretch for the heart and soul as you ask just what it means to be truly just and be faithful to the Gospel where racism or prejudice set artificial barriers in the past.

While we have by no means all the answers, our experience in the major capital city of Santiago afforded us some valuable experience. In Chile over the past 10 years over 450,000 Haitians have sought refuge, and in the past five years more than 135,000 Venezuelans have also fled to Chile. Between 2014 and 2016 the number of Haitians jumped from 8,900 per year to over 44,000 in just one year! Most arrive as tourists…and stay for life!

Some ways our ministry has responded to this massive (and messy) immigration problem include:

  1. Teach your church members to set aside old habits and learn new ones. This includes ways to greet others, food preferences and even language.
  2. Organize classes in the language of the group you desire to serve. It was a stretch for sure, but 1 class I taught was in Creole, through a Haitian translator.
  3. Train leaders to be the first to break the ice. Encourage, and form methods of social interaction that the arriving migrants are accustomed to to help them feel welcomed. One way we did this was to encourage small group fellowship between the worship service and Adult Bible Fellowship that were language oriented.
  4. Challenge the church to identify key people and pay for them to study the language of the new arrivals. This has been a key for several years in our church and it has made a huge difference, which allows those studying the language to translate in services and to call or visit when they are sick or need help.
  5. Build strong small groups to care for each person. These will tend to create some healthy networking and mutual communication channels for all.

When we learn and practice ministry across racial and ethnic lines, both at home and on the mission field, we will soon see that God not only CREATED all nations from one man (Adam) but that He is also transforming all nations by leading them to ONE SAVIOR, Jesus Christ.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.
Santiago, Chile

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Corona a…what? Another Chinese import

Now starting the third month of quarantine here in Santiago, Chile, life has taken a very unexpected turn! I have listened to all my old CDs, and found some very cool stuff! I have read all of my library…well, not yet! But I am making some progress. I have figured out how to use a Roku, which I erroneously thought was more for travel or being away from home. And I have called through my list of all the men from our Church that I am responsible for. I have been busy at home.

Now what do I do?

When the virus first hit the news here in Santiago, some time late in December 2019, we were all thinking, “well just another Chinese export!” But the story soon hit close to home. The risks, the rapid spread, the uncertainty, the scare factor and the prognosis on CNN were a bit more than we had bargained for. A new strain of virus called the Coronavirus was rewriting our schedule, and our priorities!

Since we live in a large city, somewhere around 7.2 or 7.8 million people, the problem of highly contagious diseases spreading is very real here. Just think: our home in an eastern section of Santiago is surrounded by thousands of homes. The outside wall of our house is not more than 15 feet from our neighbors on both sides. Not what you would call an important distance!

But now it became necessary to take every possible precaution, just as many around the world are. Some of those include shedding shoes, clothes and taking an immediate shower when arriving home. Wearing a mask, covering hands, and living with disinfectant gel everywhere. And worst of all, we cannot hug our brethren or friends. To the North American mentality that is not a big deal. But to a Latin American mindset, that is really a sacrifice!

health workers wearing face mask

Photo by cottonbro on

Other important sacrifices have been placed on us: no classes, services or gatherings over 10 people. That means that the physical meetings of the New Life Baptist Church have all been suspended. No classes for school at the Santiago Christian Academy, either. Nor can we travel to our normal places of work, training or ministry.

Since March 16 we have been restricted in many ways. And since that same day God has burst open the doors of electronic and digital ministry! Our pastors, now four of them at New Life Baptist, all are online 3 or 4 times a week. The ladies, men, teens and even children, have a method of virtual meetings. Our children’s ministry teachers have even ramped up their production of weekly classes on Facebook. The church has gone viral! Cool, right?

Maybe. What about prayer that is Holy Spirit guided where He moves the body of Christ and directs those present to carry out His will? When does the body of Christ serve one another? How do we exercise our spiritual gifts unless we can “digitize” teaching, showing mercy, evangelizing, prayer, preaching…? We need to adapt, and thousands of pastors and churches have indeed done so. But the body of Christ is not “invisible,” it is visible.  And to that aim we are looking for ways to “be together” in visible, personal and corporate ways here in Chile. Not really a fast thing to accomplish.

While we adapt, we also understand that the Gospel is not trapped behind closed doors or behind sanitary masks. So through some attempts to be innovative, we are spreading the Word of God on YouTube, on Facebook, via LinkedIn and right here, in a blog in Spanish (feel free to visit the blog called “Defensores de la Verdad” or Defenders of the Truth). Preaching and working, without stepping beyond the front door of our home has never been more modern!

Thank you for praying with us, for praying for us and for keeping the Chinese in your prayers…the coronavirus that is, that came from China! Also thank you for praying for the hundreds of nations and millions of people who may have finally realized that they cannot run from their mortality!

Serving the Savior,

David Rogers and Family

Santiago, Chile

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March 2020 Update from Chile

Greetings Friends,

Some times things move so fast, we cannot keep up with them. Recently that is how we have felt about the sweeping corona virus that has us praying, and working and teaching from home. Please read here our most recent update about how we continue to give out the Gospel of hope in Christ Jesus amidst rapidly changing times in Chile.

Thank you for praying, for giving and for faithfully standing with us!

Dave and Ruth Ann and Andrea Rogers

Click here to read our letter.


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News and Update from the Rogers

Need to know what’s going in Chile? Please visit our link below. And then take a minute to ask God’s intervention on the work where He sees fit.

Thank you!

Dave and Ruth Ann and family

Rogers receiving the “Bomm Service Award” from ABWE Vice President Duane Early and wife, Sue. 2016

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++ Graduation! A Mile Marker Reached ++

When we reach the finish line of a major accomplishment, we experience satisfaction and joy. Graduation brings a sense of relief. It’s that feeling of “I’m finally done!”  And there’s the “I can’t believe I’m done” exuberance on top of it all! Graduation means a whole lot of things for everyone. But, one thing graduation is NOT: it is not the end of the road to learning.

This June our youngest daughter, Andrea, who is a junior in High School, worked with discipline, with determination and with patience to complete the year. Good grades don’t come easy for her, so it takes a lot of effort! 

With her third year of High School almost behind her she was looking forward to taking some pleasure in the Junior-Senior Banquet. There was the decorations, and the class planning meetings and the decisions about who does what. She and all of the other Juniors created and rehearsed and then filmed short videos with messages and jokes for the Seniors. The small group of juniors put their best foot forward and in so doing, made for a really sweet night of memories, laughter, photos and yes…good-byes.

But after all that effort and planning in advance, one little snag changed it all for Andrea: she contracted a bad cold the day before the banquet, making it impossible for her to attend! She had spent weeks preparing for that all-important night, but would not be there to see it all. For this Junior, the year ended with unexpected abruptness.

What does this family story have to do with the missionary endeavor? We, like Andrea, have worked in anticipation of reaching a goal. We have organized, trained, planned, prayed and discussed the many facets of our goal. Our mission team worked for long months and together we sensed that God was leading and working in us to complete a certain plan. What we did not expect was that one very important part, one valuable member of the team, would not be there to see the goal reached. Although no one saw it coming, one of our partners would bail just before reaching the finish line.

With that unexpected change comes various consequences: the efforts are detained, the goal appears to be unreachable and possibly the team will be stalemated in this aspect of the work. How do we interpret this detour? What is point of this set back? And why does the team have to face the delays, frustrations, and unfulfilled longings in place of what appeared to be God’s clear leading and desire for us?

Recently the team we serve with has been forced to accept and to deal with delays in team member appointment, project financing, churches that should or could have become self-supporting and autonomous…all a bit of just some of the ways we’ve come close to reaching a “graduation” in some aspect of the ministry, but then a missionary had to leave, and did or could not continue.  The detours, these forced retooling of plans and ministries have brought us up short and like it or not, have forced our team to rethink our objectives. Just like Andrea, we thought we were nearly reaching the completing of an exciting and significant accomplishment, but then the whole picture changed.

Like it or not, teenagers face hard moments of disappointment that teach them lessons about life: about delayed gratification, about having a mature look at the matters of life, and the way that one handles those matters. Andrea can be at peace that at least she did her part for the good of the cause.

The same truth can be applied to our missionary team, and for us personally. If we have done our part through prayer, in seeking God’s will, in leaning on the Lord for at every turn, then even if the results don’t turn out as planned, we can be confident that the cause still is progressing, the Name of Christ is being held up, the work of making disciples around the world still moves ahead.

While it might seem more acceptable when looking at set backs, moral failure and spiritual struggles as one way God teaches us, maybe there is another lesson too. When a missionary colleagues leaves the field this may leave the team strategies in ruins, leaving one to wonder what to make of it.  I have seen missionaries change mission agencies  only to return to the same country. I have also witnessed missionaries who depart from the ministry itself, which has caused a major delay in the expected plans.

It’s in these situations that I feel we need to ask the question: what should be priority on the mission field, family or personal goals? Or team and country goals? In other words, to make the most of a strategy, those struggles and setbacks could be a way that God trains us to actually SEE and THINK of the strategy from His view point, rather than our own.

So like Andrea, we have learned that even after graduation, or in her case, the year-end banquet, we still have much to learn in the missions endeavor.  When we run into setbacks, we see personal failure and team dysfunction. But when God sees setbacks, as the Lord the Harvest, He opens a new perspective to us to learn about ourselves and about how he does His work. Before graduation comes, the lessons must be learned. What is that? God’s work of missions is God’s first priority, and His strategy of making disciples of all peoples, all tribes, all peoples. His goal will not be frustrated!

One Biblical example comes to mind that illustrates this principle, the situation of Paul and Barnabas whose team ended up being dissolved over a difference of opinion. The text states “and there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed..” (Acts 15:39-40, ESV)  The two premier missionaries of the early church…SEPARATED WAYS? Yes, their difference of opinion over a former teammate brought a team dysfunction. Was that the end of the  missionary enterprise? NO! It was only a new configuration of that team, and out of the setback came two teams.

And they soon were out on the missionary trail again. Even though a hard time for the missionary team, the Lord used it to bring about a new team and through it, cover more ground, train more leaders, and reach more people with the Gospel. May that be how we can see today the challenges so many servants face. God uses them to train our vision of the way He does the work. This means we can look at setbacks as graduations in our missions outlook.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.
Santiago, Chile

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Mercy Killing Increasing in Europe

Can you believe it? A society that is supposed to defend the defenseless (as with the handicapped) and protect the innocent (ex. animals) and nurture the weak (for instance the sick and the terminally ill) now defends mercy killing. See this FACTUAL SOURCE:

If you visited the link above for, you will notice something here. All but two are European countries. Meaning…? Those countries leading the world in economics and medicine are also those with the least amount of hope and or belief in the ability of money or science to SAVE people, to SAVE LIFE. Merely looking at statistics we can see the the conviction that live is worth saving has no direct relationship with wealth or education. Again, these European countries are among the richest and most educated in the world. Exempting the fact that Canada is every bit as secularized and humanistic in its belief system (Canada also approves PAS), this startling fact of those countries that allow euthanasia and Physician assisted suicide (PAS) shows the depths of the despair and the disdain for human life.

May the United States of America finally make a difference now that the Supreme Court has on the bench a judge who understands life related issues from a dignified view of human life and who understands that one’s own opinion of what is “convenient” and what is “expedient” does NOT validate determining end of life issues. Life is a constitutional RIGHT. No one can take that away from me…not EVEN myself.

The decision is not about “liberal” vs. “conservative,” but simply about preciousness of life versus “individualism.” I hope that the USA doesn’t follow the nihilism of Nietzsche, lest sooner, rather than later, the world become populated by “the last man” (as he called the desperate, immoral and aimless human beings).

The LAST MAN will be those who know NO VALUES of any kind, which will enable them to dispose of, treat as useless and dispose of anyone, anything and any idea that does not meet popular approval.

THINK ABOUT IT on Nov. 8th as you vote.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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Balancing My Roles as Dad to an MK

I have mixed emotions as I think about our who I am as a father. I am a missionary. And when a missionary is visiting the United States, or wherever his/her home is, coming back to that place sometimes urges one to do some self-evaluation. Returning to where your roots are stirs you to ask, “how far have I come since I was here last time?” I have been thinking just that: “how am I doing as a Dad for my children?”

As  I think about my role as a father, some challenges pop into my mind. Yes, being a dad from the “front seat of a car”, where I am supposed to provide insight and wisdom to a teenage daughter proves a distinct challenge. Here are two of those challenges.

 First challenge: keep the school work top priority. Yes, we cannot let our daughter be “truant” just because we are 5,000 miles away from school. Home schooling an 11th grader, facing Geometry, US History, Grammar and Science demands not only her time and effort, but one of the parents as well, who in this case, is Mom.

I am assume that you already know that while in the US for a home ministry stretch requires that school age children still study. I mean who would put up with an academic slacker? But what about the matter of motivating or insisting on that assignment being done before the student goes to a church activity or meeting? And what about reminding her that school work while not limited by strict schedules cannot be put off indefinitely? And all this, while still showing parental concern about what she does or doesn’t understand. She is, after all my student and my daughter!

Sometimes this matter of trying to fulfill both roles—both teacher and parent—as many more families have learned in the flux of the home schooling movement, that one way to deal with this is to divide the tasks between parents. One parent teaches, and the other helps review, correct, encourage, and generally “pound it into their heads!” (as a figure of speech). But, the lines are not always so clearly drawn!

Communication with your teenager

Parenting an MK poses unique challenges

And that’s where I find myself today. Our daughter is sitting on the couch, studying while Mom, who is the “first string” teacher, is preparing for the ladies meeting she is committed to speaking at today. At this juncture, the question becomes, “how do we divide the tasks this time?” And that is my challenge today.

I probably don’t have the ideal solution, but here is what I have been thinking. Since school work is a constant from now until we return to the field, and because Mom is preparing for a speaking commitment, the first priority is being “Dad” to my daughter. That means, keep reminding her of the assignments while offering study helps. But, if the student runs low on energy, I will step in and be there to support, to help share the burden, and be a source of encouragement, rather than be a hard-nosed teacher. After all, as I always say, “there are only 4 people who can call me Dad, and they will always deserve the best I can give them.”

The second challenge, not just for an MK or while in the States traveling, is how to instill in our daughter, or any of our children, true spiritual-mindedness and a tender heart for God and His Word? Of course this question requires much more thought and time. And actually it is one we have been asking ourselves for over 20 years or more, since our oldest daughter became a teenager. It’s a question that so many missionary parents wrestle with, especially when we know that our teenagers must fight (I use that word seriously) to live between two cultures, two “boxes” if you will, as a way of life. I am not here zeroing in on the “tri-culture kid” reality so much. I am only thinking of how to guide a teen to have a tender heart toward the things of God, and specially, toward spiritual genuineness. I want her to not be not trapped or swept away in the current trends of pop culture, infinitely unending distractions and critical attitudes toward all that is anchored in a moral and spiritual certainty.

My take on this subject ranges from the more structured, such as give the teen a spiritual journal, spending time every day in family Bible study and discussion and putting a Bible app on her tablet, to providing a more relaxed way like finding windows of opportunity to talk openly about issues, struggles, fears, or putting good reading material in her hands, or just sharing personal lessons from life. It is crucial after all that she learns to stand against those practices that are self-destructive. The reality is, however, that there is probably never just “one silver bullet” to meet the need in a teen’s life!

While not trying to over simplify things, at this point in time, our teen’s spiritual life needs to be built up, encouraged and supported. She has been getting to know a pastor’s wife in one of our supporting churches. The pastor’s wife asks simple, loving and open ended questions, which are to draw out her deeper thoughts and feelings. Through this simple, personable and timely approach which I have witnessed in just two short encounters with this pastor’s wife, that lady is on to something! She is building a friendship with our teen and opening up windows into her soul. Looking and listening, asking and digging in, helping her see and understand her own reality as she grows, matures, and faces new challenges.

Spiritual growth, spiritual-mindedness, tenderness towards the Word and toward God himself can often come in little doses and from other fellow pilgrims. Praise God for a chance for our MK to hear from other people as with this caring, joyful cancer survivor who as a pastor’s wife who just knows when and how to ask a valid and yet constructive question!

What to do to help our teenage daughter respond to God’s love and truth? One great option is to let her see it played out in the life of others who also love and follow the Lord. That can open doors to her heart, and allow me as Dad, to show that parents can learn too.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.
Atlantic City, NJ

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Do Missionaries Need Friends?

At first glance this question may seem to have an obvious answer. “Of course they do! All people need friends.” True as that may be, a genuine friendship for many missionaries is not easy to come by. Nor it is easy to keep. Here are a few reasons why.

First of all, a genuine, open, mutually supportive friendship requires contact: person, real, regular contact. That is exactly what many missionaries do not have. Why? Well first of all, because they live and work in far away lands. And even when they return to their home country (this is true of North American, Canadian and all other national missionaries), they return to a place that no longer looks like nor feels like home. As a result, while a missionary longs to feel “at home again,” circumstances, context and surroundings often work against it.

Secondly, friendships take time to cultivate. Here again, many missionaries are pressed for time. Just to return to their home land is a mad rush of weeks of pressure. This pressure comes from needing to wrap up many details and often, transfer responsibilities, ministries and normal, every day “home life” tasks to others in their respective country of ministry. Once in their home country, the new pressures come to the foreground: reporting to churches, preparing visual and print information, setting up a calendar and meeting family needs. Pressures on both sides of the trip back “home” keep the missionary frazzled, and often unable to unwind or relax.

Thirdly, missionaries often feel like they need a friend when they return, but unfortunately, many people are not expecting their arrival back. Like the time when we arrived back in our home church after being gone for over four years, and were met at the door of the church by well-meaning friends who said, “Hi! What brings you back into town? Just visiting for a while?” However that was one of the very friends to whom we had recently sent an email stating the purpose and length of our travels back to the US. Of course, I am sure that once she read the email, it became abundantly clear that we were returning for a full year of furlough while one of our children attended his first year of college, and that we would be living in the church parsonage, right behind the church!

Making new friends

And fourthly, while missionaries not only need friends and want to build their friendships with new-found and long-time friends, no one really wants to be a friend to someone who is out of touch with reality, or that is not a part of one’s daily routine. A friend is a friend when you know you can count on him or her to be there in times of need. Unfortunately missionaries usually are not in any one place for very long. What does that mean? Those dear people you once thought were your close friend have moved on to other relationships in your absence. And while this is natural and normal, what a missionary may need more than anything is just someone who remembers. To remember old times, previous events, and former events you experienced together. In other words simply making them a part of your daily routine will do wonders to help them pick up where they left off in that friendship.

For that to happen requires something very simple. It requires that there be someone who opens up, who asks the tough questions, and then persists and asking, until he or she feels confident enough to answer those questions. And for that to happen of course, both the missionary and the would-be-friend need to make a time priority to meet, to talk and to listen to each other…until the call moves him on to the next phase of life. Even though he or she will have to move on, a friend still gives the time it takes to renew old relationships and to nurture one another in their new found stage of life.

In answer to the opening question, “Yes!” Missionaries need close friends. They are often secretly longing for personal, intimate and mutually healthy friendships. Honestly, not a few missionaries are looking for that right now as they seek to fulfill God’s calling while also being able to count on a few close friends to help them process and adjust to their new stage of life.

Maybe you could help a missionary find a friend…just by being one.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.


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