In April, the Eurasia Region held its first three-day Launch event to provide orientation on practical tools and resources, as well as special training in resilience, for new and existing Nazarene missionaries serving on the region.

The event is designed to build on, and follow, a similar preparatory event called Launch, held at the Church of the Nazarene denomination’s Global Ministry Center (GMC) in Lenexa, Kansas, USA. The GMC’s Launch prepares and sends out new and returning missionaries into cross-cultural assignments around the world. The Eurasia Region’s Launch event is more narrowly focused on serving in the region, and meets missionaries as they move onto, or are already serving, on the region.

“As regional director, I feel that new missionaries need to hear, in a warm and practical way, ‘Welcome to our team, we are glad you are here! Please join us at the table,’” said Arthur Snijders. “In order to feel welcome, somebody needs to show us around, introduce us to other people, give explanation of what is expected in the setting so that we do not feel out of place. With this is mind we developed Eurasia Launch. Together with Global Missions, we worked hard to give our missionaries the best possible start here in Eurasia.”

Eleven missionaries participated, including two who joined via video conference, at the regional office in Büsingen, Germany. Office personnel provided information and training.

“The goal was to introduce them to the region and promote missionary growth and resilience,” said Melanie Eaton, Eurasia Region Member Care coordinator. “Throughout the program we stressed the importance of continued cross-cultural adjustment and development of ministry skills, all within a culture of care.”

Workshops focused on finances and fundraising, essentials of being a Nazarene, Nazarene and Eurasia Region ministries, support and resources available from the regional office, developing greater intimacy with God through prayer, considering the ministry model called APEST (Apostle, Pastor, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher), and developing skills for successful cultural adjustment.

For Rebecca Moisio, who is entering her fourth cross-cultural ministry assignment, Launch gave her new tools and perspective, including the book, The Culture Map, that are enabling her to thrive more fully in the Republic of Georgia.

“It was refreshing for me to be able to get into that mindset of understanding the culture that I’m in, rather than just surviving the culture that I’m in,” Moisio said. “I’ve been in cultures where I’ve just had to survive things. Things were coming at me and I was reacting and surviving. Culture Maps helps you approach a culture and understand it at a deeper level.”

“The major focus was on ‘resilience,’ it is absolutely helpful for new missionaries,” said Bill Grigory, on a new missionary assignment in Bulgaria with his wife, Theresa. “The material covered was very practical. For returning missionaries there were sections of updated policies and procedures that are a good review. This also made us all feel like we were a part of a larger team.”

Although Moisio has served in Nazarene missions in three countries over several years, and a year ago attended the GMC Launch event, the overview on policies and the denominational structure still provided new insights and equipping.

“When I went to the GMC Launch, it was great but I still had months of preparation to do after that. After this Launch [held a few weeks before arriving in Georgia] I felt affirmed in what I was doing. I felt ready; I was excited. It felt like I was being launched. That was the emotional difference.”

The participants also had time over meals and informal gatherings to become more acquainted with one another and regional office leaders, share stories and challenges from their areas of ministry and assignments, helping to develop a mutually supportive camaraderie.

“It was very helpful, inspirational and encouraging to meet the ministry directors and hear their personal stories of situations and circumstances where they were greatly tested and how God faithfully brought them through,” said Grigory. “It was a sobering reminder that the idealistic or romantic idea of missions can actually set unrealistic expectations.”

Eaton said that the event will be a regular part of a “multi-year development plan for Eurasia missionaries.”

This article was written by Gina Grate Pottenger and previously published in the June 2019 edition of Where Worlds Meet.