Missionaries welcomed home after years of service

Attendees at the missionary re-entry retreat.

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Six Adventist missionaries have been welcomed back to Australia after years of service overseas.

The South Pacific Division (SPD) held a re-entry retreat to welcome the missionaries home and help with their reintegration into Australia. Led by mission service and support manager Carol Boehm, the retreat provided a space to thank the missionaries for their service, celebrate what they have achieved, debrief their experiences, equip them for the future and to worship.

According to Mrs Boehm, many missionaries return home and expect to slot back into their old life, but things have changed, friends have moved on and they’ve missed a lot of “life” with their family. She encourages them to see the next chapter as a re-appointment and not a “coming home”, as many find it difficult to pinpoint where “home” is.

“Many people find that re-entry is harder than heading out to service,” said Mrs Boehm. “Reverse culture shock is a real thing.”

Long-time missionaries David and Carol Tasker were among those attending the retreat. The couple is retiring after 50 years of denominational employment, most recently at Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where Carol served as director of research and postgraduate studies and David as the dean of the School of Humanities, Education and Theology.

The other recently returned missionaries were Kaye and Kevin Judge, and Suraj and Gillian Grolimund. The Judges have returned from roles at Sonoma Adventist College in PNG: Kaye as the staff development and quality assurance officer and Kevin as the human resources and student service officer. The Grolimunds were serving at ADRA in Laos: Gillian was the country director and Suraj a project manager. Australian chaplains Allan and Wendy Walshe also attended the retreat.

Mrs Boehm is keen to encourage everyone to remember that we are all called to be missionaries.

“We’re all called to get out of our boat and ‘walk on water’—which of course is only ever possible if our eyes are fixed on Jesus,” she said. “Living a life of service doesn’t need to happen overseas—although it might, and if God calls you there don’t hesitate. But it may mean walking across the street to your neighbour, across the hall to your work colleague or across the country to an old friend or acquaintance. It’s time we embrace all that being a missionary means so we can spread the good news and finally and genuinely go home.”

Currently, there are 26 families serving in the Pacific Islands as International Service employees, from a variety of places including Australia, Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Alaska and New Zealand.

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