a blog for the summer missions training team from Bethel Baptist Church

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Post-Retreat Update

Dear Family Members and Friends of the Congo Team -

We greatly appreciate the prayers and encouragement that you have offered during these last few months as we have seen our team come together and begin to build bonds among fellow members, gain understanding about the culture and language of Congo, and grow in our walk with Christ through the training process. As you can imagine, it has been a difficult process, especially in light of the uncertainty surrounding many aspects of our trip.

We wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed on what has transpired and what was finally decided and communicated over this past weekend’s retreat. As a team, we discussed the factors that weighed for and against a team trip to Congo this summer. Input was sought from the team and a decision was made that it was not wise to proceed with travel during the summer of 2006. We realize this is quite a disappointment for members and their supporters who were excited about the mission, the team, and the journey. However, we believe that God will be glorified and will continue to use us while we prepare and look forward to traveling to Congo in the summer of 2007.

As you seek to understand some of the rationale behind this very difficult decision, please consider some of the following:
  • The initial budget of nearly $25,000 represented almost a third of the anticipated budget for spending on all of Bethel missions. The team considered whether it was wise to spend that kind of money on a two-week trip in light of the very real possibility of Bethel-supported missionaries needing to leave their work to raise support. Once the final numbers were in, the team's budget actually represented more than half of the amount ultimately approved for missions spending this year.
  • Airfare rose from the budgeted $1,500 to over $1,800 per ticket before we were able to consider the above situation, and at this point is well over $2,500 per ticket.
  • Because of the leadership's focus on some very complex issues at Bethel during the first part of the year, we were not able to put the kind of attention needed toward preparing this team. In addition, we were not comfortable beginning to raise support or spending large amounts of money during that period of great uncertainty, which delayed the process significantly.
  • Also due to the church family issues that took our attention, and other scheduling issues, we had to adjust our calendar, which put us behind in the training process.
  • During the course of the meetings, several team issues became apparent to the leaders which needed to be ironed out before we could really begin to function as Philippians 2:1-4 would indicate.
  • The state exams in Congo have been delayed due to the upcoming elections, which means that many of the students we wanted to minister to would not have been available during the time frame we originally laid out.

No single factor was the ultimate deal-breaker, but when all things were considered, we believed it would be wiser to delay a year. During this time, we want to continue to build the team unity, learn more language, get a clearer picture of the mission God has for us in Congo, and seek creative ways to raise the financial support necessary. Also during that time, Russell and Alex will be pursuing a scouting trip to get a first-hand perspective and gain valuable experience for the ongoing training process.

We hope that you have confidence first and foremost in the sovereignty of God, but also in the leadership that He has placed in our body, and that you will continue to support the new direction for the Congo team. We also would like to improve our communication with the parents of the team members, and greatly desire your input as we move forward. If you have any questions about the decision-making process, the current state, or the future plans for the Congo team, please do not hesitate to contact Russell or Alex.

The next team meeting will be Sunday May 21st for lunch after church.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Team Retreat Details

We are going to the Reids' beach house near the Indian River Inlet.
We will leave the parking lot after the Good Friday Service, at the church from 12-3 PM.
We encourage you and your family to attend whatever portion of this service you can.
We will return to the church Saturday by 6 PM, and would like you to join us for dinner.

You need to bring with you:
  • Your Bible
  • Your Congo notebook
  • Something to write with
  • A journal to write in (if you don't have one you like, let me know)
  • Enough money to get fast food dinner on the way down
  • Enough money to go to dinner (if you can) near the church with the team when we get back
  • Something modest to sleep in (just in case you run into someone in the middle of the night)
  • Something comfy to sleep on like a sleeping bag, blanket or pillow
  • Only one change of clothes for Saturday (if you are dressed for church you can change into something more casual after the service and send the extra clothes home or leave them at church)
  • A spare pair of sturdy shoes with closed toes ("thongs" are OK for travel and meetings)
  • A towel
  • Only the bare essentials for getting ready (a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and a stick of deodorant should do it)
  • Your "testimony"
  • A two minute presentation of "the gospel"
  • A working knowledge of the Swahili vocabulary list you were given
  • The permission slip (that you can download on the right ->)