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Dr. Justin Smith Serves Missionaries in Switzerland

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Dr. Justin Smith just returned from a two week trip to the Breathe Conference in Switzerland. Breath is a retreat for missionaries (singles, couples, and families) who are serving in challenging settings. Dr. Smith was part of a team of pastors, counselors, medical doctors, massage therapists, youth workers, elementary workers, and preschool workers that were sent to serve missionaries dealing with ministering in high-conflict parts of the world. Below is the story of one of the eight families he worked with:

The pursed lips belied the “everything is fine” report from a career missionary couple. They arrived in Switzerland with tired children, overflowing bags, and frowns. Reports of “success” on the field veiled that fact that the mission field had not been kind to them. Their children had behavior problems and anxiety, their marriage was in trouble, and there was little “joy left in the journey” of ministry.  Days of corporate worship, meals, and hiking the Alps laid the ground work for hours of counseling to begin to unravel years of personal hurts and disappointments on top of living with corruption, bugs, pollution, political chaos, and ministry betrayals. Through God’s Spirit and grace both the husband and wife were able to find healing in their pain. For him, his anger masked deep hurts and fears. For her, she had given up on emotions to stop the pain of disappointment. As God met them and touched their hearts their renewed energy allowed them to rediscover each other and the joy and strength of being a team. As they turned toward each other (rather than emotionally turning away or attacking each other!), they were able to create a more patient, consistent, and supportive environment in which to help their children deal with the challenges of living cross-culturally: repeated moves, changing schools, leaving friends, new foods and languages, and shifting cultures. By the time we said goodbye the whole family was more relaxed, more engaged, and smiling again.  Jeremiah 31:35 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

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