T and E* have spent the six months since December 2016 on Home Assignment in Australia after their first term in South East Asia. They share about what they have been doing during this time and why it is both beneficial and encouraging for them.
What is Home Assignment?
We returned from South East Asia just before Christmas for our first Home Assignment and were met with a variety of questions (are you on holiday for six months? are you looking forward to going back?) along with a flurry of invitations to come and share with small groups, link churches, schools and, of course, a myriad of social catch-ups.
One of our first commitments was presenting three talks to faithful supporters at the annual summer conference with our CMS state branch. It was exciting to be able to meet in person and share stories of how we’ve seen God at work. It was also incredibly humbling and encouraging to meet with people who are faithfully partnering in this and other similar work.
Since then, many of our Sundays have been spent sharing at our 10 link churches, our weeknights have been spent catching up with supporters in small groups, and the rest of the time has quickly been filled with family responsibilities, medical appointments, administrative work and professional development. Amongst all of these commitments, we also stay connected to our friends in South East Asia through Skype and social media. As a result, it’s not uncommon for us to organise a dinner date a month or more in advance because it’s the next available weeknight!
It’s certainly not a six-month holiday despite many kind supporters frequently checking that we are getting enough time off. But though rest and reflection take a lot of effort to make happen, they are also a critical part of Home Assignment. We are humbled by people’s care for us in this, in the form of lending their holiday shack for a family getaway, videos to watch, cooking, babysitting, and involving the kids in adventures. We have also appreciated the chance for the kids to be involved in youth groups and camps, providing spiritual input at an important time in their lives.
Why do we do it?
One of the wonderful things about Home Assignment is being able to share in more detail. Serving in a sensitive location has meant that we have to be careful about our newsletters, but face-to-face we can give people a much better understanding of what it’s like to live and serve in our location. People have a clearer idea about what to pray for and feel more connected to the mission work.
After sharing with small groups, we often finish with two questions: Where have you seen God working lately? What do you feel God is calling you to?
We do this because we are very aware that in the years we have been away, God has been working in and through all of us. It is mutually encouraging to share these stories. We’ve heard about healings, amazing answers to prayers, and people dramatically coming to faith in Jesus. We’ve heard how the Spirit has guided, comforted and sustained people in life’s moments. We’ve met people who are sensing the Spirit nudging them to live out authentic lives in the workplace, to start new ministries in areas that have been neglected, to make meaningful relationships with neighbours, and to grow in holiness and prayer. And we’ve been very excited to meet with people who desire to serve across cultures both in Australia and in other countries. Particularly as, for us, Home Assignment is about inspiring others to be excited about God’s work in this world and to get involved in that work in the place and way God has planned for them.
So are we ready to go back? Yes and no. We’re content here in Australia and yet we feel sure that God desires us to continue serving in our location. Home Assignment has provided a chance to reflect on the last few years and prayerfully consider the next few years. Through sharing stories here, we are constantly reminded how he has brought us this far and that gives us confidence that he will continue to carry our family through another term.
Missionaries on Home Assignment often rely on supporters to help them settle into a home, loan them cars, help out with the kids and many more things. Click here for some ideas about how you can be supporting missionaries while they’re back in Australia.
*Names removed for security reasons.