Thursday, November 6, 2008

Opinions Needed

Ok - our pastor here, where we are, which is not "on the field" and not yet "home" either... its complicated - a sort of assignment here since our country was not workable for awhile, and the "here" has sort of become a longer term place, too.

All that to say we have a "here" pastor as well as a "home" pastor. Then we have a team leader who pops in and out on his way to and from different places. He is the one with vision problems. He has always had some quirks where he is very focused and doesn't always see beyond his focus - like a horse with blinders on. Then we also have a leader of our organization who is based a few hours away. This leader also did nothing when I asked for help beside volunteer to pray. He is apparently involved now after our here pastor called, but I wonder how much as I haven't heard anything from him, either.

So, our here pastor has taken charge of the situation. At times I am thankful he is doing something, and at times I am frustrated because he can not formulate a plan other than "meet with me and work on matters of the heart, and we'll see". I am a plan person. "This is where we want to go; this is how I think we will get there; and this is how we will measure where we are."

Well, our here pastor has decided it would be best to send a letter to all our supporting churches and tell them that we are going to take a six month's sabbatical to work on marriage problems (not infidelity, but problems) and we will step back from ministry during that time, and would you please pray.

He is asking for our opinion on the letter. So, I am asking for yours. I think that it is not what we talked about initially. We initially talked about a letter just to say we are taking a six month sabbatical partly because it is due and partly because we need a rest and time to deal with stress built up over the last six years. I am worried that a letter like he sends will be the end of our support - finished, ended. People understand sabbaticals, stress, personal issues - but marriage problems the way he has worded it sound really bad, like it is over, go put your money elsewhere where things are fine.

What is your opinion? Don't think this one out for a day or two, because he is looking for an answer. Tell me your off the top of your head, what experience have you had throughout your times being/ watching missions?


Angela said...

Hi Ellie,
You asked for opinions about the letter. Here's my 2 cents. There is always risk in opening up to people in letting them know you're having marriage problems. Many will totally blow it in their response -- I'm sure you've already encountered that.

But the truth is that every marriage goes through rough times. I think the couples who allow other believers in, to an extent, in order to pray and intercede for them are following Scriptural principles. I kept quiet for a long time about the problems in my marriage. But when I finally opened up and invited people to pray, God began to do more change. It also has been such an encouragement for me to get emails and letters from people I barely know or good friends reminding me that they continue to pray for my husband and I.

People with a close relationship to God will only respect you for being honest and humble enough to open up. The critical kind of people -- well, do you really care about what they think? Their opinion doesn't really matter in the long run and the Holy Spirit is capable of dealing with their hearts.

But you will gain tremendous blessing by allowing the Body of Christ to help carry your burdens. It will no longer just be on your shoulders. I'm sure you've already experienced some of that encouragement and support just by getting real in your blog. That will be even greater through this letter going out.
So those are my thoughts, for what it's worth.

Thanks for your comment on my blog! :)


Ellie said...

I think I could get used to openness about marriage struggles, I think. I am worried about how this will affect support right now, which is the last thing I want to be worrying about while we are trying to focus on getting better.

One thing that bothers me about his letter is that the tone is very blunt and very negative. There is not one word of praise or commendation for anything done well at all. I know that there is not a lot in our lives that is good right now, but we have done some good, and I would rather he balance out good and bad. We just did get a Bible finished for a country which has not had one - not just a small group, but a whole country. We've dome a few other things, and I would like him to be able to say, "They've put in and served well, and now are having problems, and let's pray and support them though with the hope that they can come out whole, and maybe even begin again to serve well."

I think that is my basic issue with the proposed letter.

A balanced one, I would have less issue with. I think.

And he is not worried about our support since he says our mission agreed to a sabbatical, so why worry? Our mission, like most of yours, does not give us support - people do. So we need to write people a balanced letter. I think. Any experience with seeing these types of letters go out among missionaries - yourselves or people you know - and any idea of the results?

Thanks, Angela for the encouragement that some people who we barely know may chose to pray and encourage! That is a good reminder.

Becky Aguirre said...

It sounds like you are not comfortable with what has been written in the letter and maybe that's just the bottom line. I think that it's okay to not feel comfortable with it, it is, after all, about you and your family's ministry and you will be the ones most affected by it. I also don't think it's wrong to desire some positive input about some of your accomplishments in ministry to give supporters a better sense of the situation, which leads me to the next point...

I think one big issue here is that respect and honor be shown to and about your husband in anything that's said in letters, etc. That is not to say that I think that you should cover up any problems, but I think that things should be very carefully worded so as to help people think the best of him. I know that he may not be actively demonstrating that he is worthy of that respect, but because of his position as the leader of the family, respect is due to him. I don't know if I am explaining myself well on that point, but I know that would be true of my husband, he would appreciate knowing that I was honoring and respecting unconditionally.

I could probably have more cent's worth if you want them, but will stop for now. :) Becky

My Place of Peace said...

Would your pastor be willing to phrase things in a more positive light? Even by saying, 'a time to focus on family and strengthen their marriage' or something similar is more positive than 'marriage problems".
Also, I definitely agree that there should be mention of what you HAVE been able to accomplish by God's grace and that it is important that your family has this time of refreshment/renewal so that you are able to continue on with God's work for the benefit of those who haven't heard his word yet.
Those are my thoughts. Praying for much wisdom for you!

Becky Aguirre said...

p.s. Just had another thought...maybe it's not the right time to be more open about the whole situation? Maybe now it is enough to just say that you are taking a sabbatical and then when things settle down a bit and you can think more clearly, you could then take your time to write and share more. It may not be wise to rush things when you aren't sure what you want to say about it.

BTW, I agree with Angie, it has been a blessing every time we've been willing to be open. I think in my experience, it has actually helped people relate better to us since it brings us closer to their level (in their eyes, that is, we aren't really on a different level...).

Becky Aguirre said...

@ my place of peace...I like your wording "a time to focus on family and strengthen their marriage".

Cindy said...


I understand your concerns about writing a letter...when we were sent home last year to be with our daughter, I was so nervous to write a letter to our supporters, I was almost physically ill.
I thought for sure that our support would be dropped. I thought that
people would be critical and want to 'know all the details'. I did not want any more guilt heaped on me than I was already feeling. Yet, after the shock,we wrote a letter ourselves to our supporters.
When we did write, we did have some supporters that did not understand our situation, but we also had many, many that stood behind us in prayer. They supported us by saying that they knew what it was like to have 'family issues', and that they would pray. They thanked us for being honest and upfront. God provided for our needs in such amazing ways last year. I was so, I didn't want people to 'know'...yet, at the same time I was hindering God from working in others lives...they wanted to stand behind us in prayer, and I was too proud to tell them what was going on. I still battle with that...

I like the comment from Place of Peace...'a time to focus on family and strengthen the marriage' would be great if more missionaries took the time to focus on family and their marriage!

It has been a long road for me this past year...learning to trust God again with my kids ...yet it has been a valuable one. A lot of the learning came from being open, as Becky said.

It is tough...yes. Yes, it hurts...
Yet our God is greater...and He proved Himself so faithful to us.

One dear friend last year said to me "Cindy,let us carry you in prayer through this time...that is our responsibility to you"

We are carrying you Ellie!

Maridee said...

What an incredible community you all are. What sweet support and honesty you bring to bear. I am in awe.

Ellie, I agree with you that words about your years of service, listing some of the things God has given you to do is in order here. Also reminding your supporters that it has been through their vital partnership in prayer and giving that you have been able to do this. You have been a team in this. He could then say something to the effect that it has not been without severe spiritual and physical opposition (possibly referring to some of the incidences you have shared in your blog about your colleague's death and the attempted kidnapping of others). Years in this kind of pressure cooker often leave us raw and in need of renewal. Therefore your mission has mandated a sabbatical for six months "to focus on family and renew vision and purpose". Then ask for their prayers.

God will work and may you be surprised by sweet partnering in prayer for the deep things on your hearts. I agree with all of these dear sisters' words of wisdom. You are surrounded by some awesome sisters here.

God flood you all with wisdom, grace and peace.


Ellie said...

Good points. I will look at this all later and draft a edit of his letter. (After all, edits are what I am good at!

Right now, my husband is on his way over for his goodbye dinner and visit with the kids. Peach pie and lasagna on the menu!

jackandellasmum said...

I didn't read all the responses, but I'm just going to make this short and to the point: the "marriage problems" issue is no one's business besides yours and God's. Your initial idea for what to put in is true, tasteful, and people will identify with that. Leave out the marriage stuff and focus on the need to rest, recharge, and reconnect. (I say this with a bit of experience in the area that did not benefit my mother nor us as her children - in regards to the "church - in the least).