Larsen Log: February 2, 2011
Ready…Set…Go! 2011 is well underway! Can you believe we are in February already!?
Shock to the System
The hardest transition most MKs make, is when they return to their passport culture (for most MTW missionaries, that’s the U.S.). Imagine growing up in another country—speaking a language other than English—your values, perspective and behavior shaped by a culture deeply different than the U.S. But your passport says you are an American. You look like an American—when you speak English you can pass as an American. Everyone assumes you are just like him or her, but you feel like an outsider. Your home, your friends, your life is on the other side of the world. But for any number of reasons you find yourself a hidden immigrant within the borders of your own citizenship: Your family has had to be evacuated from a dangerous situation… Your family’s support account is low and you must raise more funds… It’s time to report to your sending churches and partners all that God’s been doing on the field… Your parents are dropping you off at University before leaving you and returning to the field—worlds away. Are you feeling alone? Are you sad? Are you anxious? Feeling confused? Maybe excited? Maybe angry? Maybe even angry with God? It’s into that mix that GYFM tries to be an agent for healing and hope and help during the reentry transition for mission teens and their parents. During the month of January we provide a three-day Re-entry program for MKs in this very situation. Our team-mate, Ruthanne Burch, led this time with several girl TCKs: counseling and caring for them, debriefing and unpacking their stories and experiences, and encouraging them and offering some tools for navigating transition, not to mention just having fun and loving on the girls. Please pray for Madison, Caroline, Chloe, Ryan and Evan and for our team as we minister to them.
Recruiting, Training, Sending and Sustaining
Praise God with us for the 20 leaders who went through our GYFI (Global Youth and Family Institute) training last month in partnership with Covenant Seminary in St. Louis (our prime U.S. site). During 5 long days we helped participants develop a biblical & practical theology of next generation ministry—equipping them to lead the global church in engaging tweens, teens and twenty something’s with the gospel. This is the first of three successive courses in our GYFI certificate program. Through this partnership with Covenant Seminary, we are seeing God raise-up men & women with a heart for the emerging generation. In fact, we’ve identified and are actively recruiting 4 couples now at various stages in the process of joining our team as missionaries with GYFM! Also, thanks to you, we are developing international GYFI sites like this around the world where we are able to get this training to national leaders and indigenous churches desperately in need of resources. By God’s grace, we’ve already established sites in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and Lord willing, are on track to open our flagship site in Latin America this year!
Here are some of things participants are saying:
“The meta-model you presented us gave us an excellent framework”
“In this class I feel like God has been trying to get at my heart and get my attention”
“I gained a richer, fuller understanding of the biblical grounds and goals for youth and family ministry”
Getting the Word Out
We also hosted a booth and offered three seminars at the PCA’s 2020 Vision Conference in January. God blessed this opportunity to share our vision, offer some of our training to local church leaders and youth pastors here in the U.S., and to further our recruiting and fund raising efforts. In talking with many of the participants, we were reminded again of the great challenges facing the U.S. church in engaging the changing cultural landscape of North America. We try to impress on every leader the reality that youth ministry in any context is a cross-cultural enterprise: Adults must see themselves as cross-cultural missionaries to the kids and young adults in their own local communities!
A Family in Mission
We took a trip as a family in late December/ early January to visit with our dear friend and colleague, Ruth VanReken. Ruth co-wrote the book, ‘Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds’, which is the seminal work on the subject. She has been a real encouragement and mentor to us as we develop our TCK ministry. Then we went to Chicago to visit with Naphali and Alyssa Marshall—dear friends and GYFM Associates (key volunteers). Naph and Lys continue to help us with our website and communications, and minister to MKs through various media and face-to-face at Area Retreats. Later in January we celebrated Rebecca’s 40th birthday… over 85 people packed into our home with hugs and expressions of love for her. Notes flooded in over email too. I was encouraged by the ways God uses Rebecca to touch the lives of so many. And I was reminded of the impact youth ministry makes in the lives of those we serve. Here is an excerpt from one of the many letters that poured in:
My husband, my mom and I were watching a movie a few months ago about a troubled teen. We got to talking about it afterwards and my mom asked me "How did you miss all of the bad things that a teenage girl can go through?" I never struggled with anorexia/bulimia, guys, partying, lack of friends, self-esteem... I thought for a really long time and my answer was "Rebecca Larsen." Rebecca invested in my life in ways that I don't know she'll ever realize. She exampled how to laugh at yourself and be ok with that. She taught me to be comfortable in my skin. Most of all she was my friend. When I think back to Middle School and early High School, it's true, I didn't have many school friends at all, but that was totally fine… Rebecca would pick me up and we'd simply hang out and share life. I can remember laughing for hours. I remember going over to your itty bitty house right next to the church and watching movies, sharing a meal, or just hanging out and talking. I remember countless Bible studies, praying, crying and singing with Rebecca. She taught me how to laugh, she encouraged me in my faith, and most of all, she was my friend when I had no friends. She gave me inspiration to reach out to people who also had no friends. She gave me courage to be a Christian.
- Please pray for our College weekend coming up later this month (held at Covenant College). Pray for a fruitful time of ministry among our college age MKs.
- Please pray for SLYnet (St. Louis Youth Network)—a network of over 30 area youth ministers we launched and lead. Pray God uses our monthly gatherings to encourage and equip those who pour out their lives in ministry to youth and families across the city.
- Please pray for our Covenant Group of seminary students. We meet with these young leaders weekly to mentor them in life and ministry, as they pursue God’s call to next gen ministry across North America and around the world.
- Please pray for our team. We praise God that he has fully funded Ruthanne’s support for one year, and we trust him to supply the ongoing funds needed for her support. Pray for the Chungs and Wilkins as they are raising their support to be fully deployed to join us. And pray for two other couples who are in the process of discerning a call to GYFM: that God will give clarity and direction.
- Praise God with us for his faithfulness to our family. We rejoice in Rebecca’s 40th birthday, and celebrate Abby as she turns 13 and Meghan as she turns 11 this month!
Thank you for partnering with us in mission to reach the nations and the next generation!
In His Grip,