August 2018 will go down in Shannon Tucker history as the most people filled, event filled and travel filled month of my life. For this introvert it was overwhelming at times and yet quite enjoyable. So much happened that I cannot share only a few stories or use just one blog to do justice to all God has shown me, shared with me and taught me. So sit back and enjoy Part 1 of Life is a Journey!
As we landed in London at 6 am I was happy to see the sun shining. We had a great flight and would have landed about 30 minutes early, but London has an ordinance that says planes cannot land before 6 am. I got a little concerned for my stomach as we zigzagged and did some other route changes, but it was not too bad and it was interesting seeing other planes in the sky doing similar things while we all waited. After landing, we rolled up to the gate and I noticed that I had an incredible view of planes landing in 2 lines, as one on the right got close to touching down, another would break through the clouds and the same on the left, with those staggering the ones on the right. I had the perfect window seat to view all this happening and it was fascinating to see the precision of so many planes landing in such a short time.
Upon exiting the airport, I was greeted with a beautiful day full of warmth and sunshine. I was in England and the country side was green with rolling hills that somehow reminded me of Southern Indiana. I knew it had only been 4 months since I left America this time, but a change of scenery like this was filling my soul in ways I definitely needed. At that point I did not realize how much more my soul would be filled over the next 4 days of meetings.
|Highleigh Conference Centre|
I was heading north of London to a conference center for our CMF Forum 2018. Indy office staff and CMF missionaries from all over the world would be there and many people had worked long and hard putting together this conference for us. I had met many CMF missionaries for the first time, the previous summer while I was home on furlough, when we gathered in Indianapolis for Furlough Retreat. At that time, they all encouraged me to attend the Forum. At first it was really hard to get excited about choosing to go to 4 more days of meetings. However, after a week together with those missionaries at Furlough Retreat (debriefing, sharing, learning, talking, worshipping, singing, praying, playing and so much more), I could not imagine missing an opportunity to be with them again and to meet so many others.
CMF Forum 2018 did not disappoint, from the topics discussed in main sessions, to the worship and devotions, to the fellowship and fun with missionaries and office staff. I want to thank everyone involved in making it happen. I learned so much and still have so much to process from our time together, hence I have decided Part 1 of this blog will be dedicated to my time at the Forum. At this point those of you not really interested are welcome to stop reading (as our ministry team says this is the Melba version, feel free to read no further). For those who continue , I hope you enjoy a snapshot of what I learned and experienced. I am happy to answer any questions, or discuss a topic in more depth than I will be able to do here. Also I apologize to our leaders, if I misunderstood or misrepresent anything here, from what you shared/taught us.
|Playing croquet in England|
Our group consisted of over 120 adults and children who gathered at the Highleigh Conference Centre, in Hoddesdon, England. There were beautiful old buildings, mixed with the new and their grounds were gorgeous, with plenty of room for everyone (we were not the only group there that week). There was a park nearby, a field we could walk through with cows (I was hoping for sheep, but cows still made me smile). I played croquet (check that off the bucket list) with my teammate, walked to town and shopped, drank British tea (when I went to buy some, the label said…made from the finest tea leaves in Kenya J).
We had morning liturgical prayer time together by the “big log” (it really was a very large old log/fallen tree). Worship time was led by very creative MK’s (missionary kids). The room where we met had great acoustics and our voices mixed well with a ukulele and what I assumed was a new-fangled beat box type of drum. It was not until the last day that it was mentioned he was actually playing the rubbish bin and I looked and saw that he really had been playing the rubbish bin (trash can). MK’s are the best!
In devotions we discussed where is home and how to find home in our churches, scarcity and abundance and that where we start with our faith foundation makes a difference. We had a corporate worship service one evening with songs, scripture readings, liturgical readings and prayer.
Our main sessions were focused on Relationships: with God, self, team, and national partners.
In this session we learned about different types of spirituality and different ways that we worship. There were six main categories we discussed and most people are a mixture, with a somewhat predominate type. I am an “Affective” type of worshiper. A few of the characteristics of that type are that feelings, emotions, and values bring connection for me. I need to feel I am cared for and experience God’s love and be able to share it. As I write this I am realizing it more and more. When I just reread the above section about worship, I got all the feels again. I remembered the child climbing on the big log as we spoke scripture and prayed together, the trash can (appropriate technology) used as a drum, the voices all mixing so beautifully in the building where we had our meetings, being in meetings, yet having so much time to be outdoors and interacting with God’s people and His Creation (more on that a bit later).
As we learned about all the categories and thought about our dominant types, we probably all realized that there are bits of the other types that help us worship and a few that are definitely not what fill us up in worship. At this point, we were cautioned to learn about our type, but to be open to other types of spirituality and to realize every person is different and certain parts of corporate worship will appeal to each person differently. We need to be flexible for the other styles and the fact that we have (and now know) our dominant style does not give us a “pass” from worshipping corporately within the other styles. Be careful to not be “so delicately balanced” that you cannot enjoy worshipping God in new and different ways. However, if you need filled up, think about your style and do something to help fill that area.
|A field of English cows|
The relationship to self, started with a bit of an introduction about how CMF has changed to a more holistic view of missionary care. Now everyone in the office is considered to be involved in our care. This makes sense as even our financial health with CMF and relationship with donors is very important to our personal health and health of our ministries. I have been impressed with the changes taking place in CMF and was happy to meet the new coordinator for our Care Team and to hear about these changes.
A few key statements from this section:
- Self-care is not self-centeredness, it’s not “me first”, it’s “me too”
- How you treat the “body” (individual), affects the “body” (family, team, community)
- Some questions to use for regular self-check in’s:
o What joys have I not celebrated?
o What losses have I not grieved?
o What fears am I afraid to explore?
o What anger am I holding on to?
o What are my values and how have I lived them out?
o What is my motivation? How is it serving me? Others?
- Think about the 4 areas (mind, body, soul, relational): How full is each area? Which are most satisfying? Why? Which are empty? Why?
- We were also introduced to enneagrams and encouraged to take the test and learn more about our number classification. It is more than just another personality test and will help with self-discovery and identifying motivations. I did a small test and plan to read more about these classifications, especially the areas that are weaknesses for me.
- ! Kings 19:4-8 the angel telling Elijah “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” After eating and drinking he was strengthened and traveled 40 days and 40 nights.
This was a really good session and another key point is that we often cannot separate team time and me time without the team speaking into it. Things we do in our personal lives often affect the team and the ministry. Food for thought, that can be a bit tough to swallow.
We discussed how to be an ideal team player. An ideal team player should be a mixture of 1) Humble, 2) Hungry, and 3) Smart. I would guess that few of us are ideal. By identifying our strong areas and weak areas we can grow into an area so we are a better mix of those 3 attributes and become better team players. We all took the simple test to check where we are now and discussed our strengths and weaknesses (more information can be found at).
|My teammates at Forum|
Statements to ponder “What we really do as we do it is more important than what we do.”
Or “How we go about doing the things we do, is more important than the task itself.”
And “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.” Winnie the Pooh
So, that last one was not shared at the meeting, but it speaks to me.
Our relationships with nationals/partners was discussed with reference to 2 books “Building Strategic Relationships: a Practical Guide to Partnering with Non-Western Missions” by Daniel Rickett and “Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church?” by Paul Borthwick.
Partnerships have 3 main areas 1) Results, 2) Relationships (moving from transactional to kinship) and 3) a shared Vision. There is a healthy dependency that involves reciprocity where both partners respect each other and work together, yet maintain independence. Both partners can correct and instruct and refuse those things from each other. Both partners bring something to the partnership. Lastly both work to safeguard the integrity and honor of Christ.
On paper that all seems straight forward and manageable. However, I can tell you in real life it is not easy. Please pray for my team, and our national partners, as we continue to work through the tough parts of our partnership relationship.
In 2012 the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel was published.
They put forth 2 major convictions:
1) Creation Care is indeed a “gospel issue within the lordship of Christ.”….. Therefore, our ministry of reconciliation is a matter of great joy and hope and we would care for creation, even if it were not in crisis.
2) We are faced with a crisis that is pressing, urgent, and that must be resolved in our generation…….Love for God, our neighbors and the wider creation, as well as our passion for justice, compel us to “urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility."
I have only included a small part of those convictions above to give you an idea of what Creation care is about. This is something I have been involved with through CHE and using veterinary medicine and public health in missions, although, I have never called it Creation Care. For my thinking it again goes back to a holistic way to teach and live, that includes respect for God’s creation and living in Harmony with God, self, others, and nature.
|Sunny view from my window|
We were presented with a lot of information and Biblical truths about our responsibility to God’s creation. Then we looked at the 10 points under the call to action. We were challenged to think about how our teams were already doing some of these steps well, the areas we wanted to do, some that seemed impossible that we would pray about, and lastly the areas that the church should be doing. It was really interesting to discuss this as a group and to hear the reports from other teams about things they were already doing in their ministry areas.
Disciple Making Movements:
DMM is already being used by some of my teammates working across Kenya and they are seeing many come to Christ through this type of teaching. It uses Discovery Bible Studies to let people who may or may not know anything about Christianity read the Bible and asks questions that help them discover what the scriptures are saying. That is a very watered down version, but much of it is like CHE, the hardest part is asking questions that may or may not get answered the way we would like or would hope they would be answered and then often keeping our mouths shut to let the person learning find the truth in what is being taught. It can be tough, but it was great to hear the reports from my teammate and others in different fields about how they are using these methods to reach many with the Gospel good news.
During the workshop times, there were concurrent sessions, and the two that I did not attend were on homeschooling and business as missions.
Networking, Fellowship, Meals, Conversations, and Games
These times together with individuals and groups were some of my favorite. I got to reconnect with so many that I met last year in the US and meet so many new people. Sometimes it was a conversation over a meal, a quiet moment at a break, a walk through the field with the cows, walks to town, tea breaks, coffee breaks, learning new things about each other as we played games together (shout out to those Mossome sisters!!)
|On a walk to town for some talking and shopping|
It was a lot of people time and as an introvert I did take time alone each day to recharge, but I also embraced the peopleness of this Forum, knowing there would come a point where I was craving people again, the white skinned variety, that I could talk with in fast, southern Indiana English. It was a time of being with people who could “get me” and “get the things” with which I struggle. We can somewhat relate to each other, even if the specific situations are different. I still laugh when I think of the missionary who looked at me like I had 2 heads when I was reasoning out loud that I could safely sleep with my windows open since there were no mosquitoes (hence no worries about malaria) and no monkeys (they come into houses in Kenya and steal food, and I had just done some important chocolate and Dorito shopping).
What can I say, other than it is good to be aware, be informed and it is fun to say OODA LOOP! I am thankful that CMF staff have done trainings and shared what they learned with us at this meeting. Some people live where things are not always secure and war is very close. I am thankful that I serve where it is generally peaceful, but that does not mean I should not be aware and think through these things.
Key points were to pay attention, don’t ignore your intuition and be situationally aware, along with some other more specific things to help make you less of a target. To help mitigate a potential attack use the OODA LOOP. O- observe O- orient D-decide A- act.
Sharing What We Learned
In the last session we all had a chance to share what we learned. While CMF also sent out an email survey after the Forum, it was really nice to have this session and to hear the varied answers from so many participants. The thing I took away from this is how different we all were. How certain things resonated with others that seemed to not even stay in my brain very long and what was important to me, maybe was not as important to others.
If we all knew, liked, excelled at the same thing, we would have a rather lopsided group. The body of Christ takes all of us with our different strengths and weaknesses, different personalities (Myers Briggs and enneagrams), and so much more to make it all work. It is a good an glorious thing that we are not all alike, even though it is often our differences that drive us crazy when working together on teams. God loves us all and he loves the unique people he made us to be. Yes he made us all in His image, yet we are unique. What a great, wonderful God we serve and I am so thankful that I am serving Him with other missionaries through CMF.