What happens when missionaries return to the United States from their international assignment? Long-time International Mission Board missionaries who recently chose to take a voluntary retirement package found themselves asking similar questions: Now what? I am newly retired but not tired—and I have been called and equipped to serve the Lord in some capacity.
Because of our partnership with the International Mission Board in Richmond and the close proximity of the training center in Rockville, the SBC of Virginia has built strong relationships with field and support personnel. What could we do to show our appreciation for these faithful servants of the Lord who left the comfort and convenience of home, gave up lucrative careers, sacrificed personal resources, and said goodbye to family and friends to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ abroad?
Through the partnership of SBC of Virginia churches, the following opportunities were offered to returning missionaries:
Free training through LifeWay’s Transitional Pastor Certification
A free résumé workshop
A listing of possible missionary houses, vacation houses, and ministry getaway locations
Assistance with finding transportation
A call-out system to make churches aware of the missionary needs
Counseling service referrals
Inclusion in listings for pulpit supply, interim pastors, and transitional pastors
Résumé referral for full-time and part-time ministry positions, including senior pastor, associate pastor, bi-vocational pastor, missions pastor, preschool/children’s minister, etc.
Referrals to enhance ethnic relationships and advance local ministries
Referrals to the SBCV Church Planting Team for consideration for planting or assisting ethnic church plants
Tom and Cindi Melvin, who served in Southern Africa for almost 10 years, took advantage of these provisions. Cindi shares, “We chose to participate in many SBC of Virginia opportunities, which continues to help us get adjusted back to the States. It’s not easy coming back to your native land after serving in your heartland and home for 10 years.”
“The SBC of Virginia helped us network with other local churches,” adds Tom. “As a matter of fact, they helped reintroduce us to Kingsland Baptist Church, who made long-term provisions for us to live in their mission house until we could find more permanent housing.”
“Our connection with the SBC of Virginia has given us many speaking opportunities,” says Cindi. “We have been invited to make IMB and Lottie Moon presentations, we have been invited to mission emphasis Sundays to do what we love—and that’s to tell God’s story.”
Now that the Melvins are back in the US, instead of focusing on the lostness of one people group, they have come to realize that their passion has expanded for all nations. The Melvins have recently joined the SBC of Virginia team as state mobilization associates. Tom explains, “Our heart’s desire is to train and equip churches to be on mission.” They have recently participated in a Four Fields Training for international church planters and are devising a boots-on-the-ground training opportunity (based on their own experiences) that will help prepare those who are interested in going on short-term mission endeavors.
What happens when missionaries return? They see where God is at work, join Him in the mission, and keep telling the story of Jesus.
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