A chat with the authors of “Grit to Stay Grace to Go”

Oct 19, 2023 | 2 comments

Do you have this problem?

Do you think of staying on the field as success and leaving as . . . well maybe not failure, but certainly not as good as staying?

Many of us think this way. This month, as we talk about transitions, we have the opportunity to interact with the authors Sue Eenigenburg and Eva Burkholder. The title of their latest book speaks directly to the heart of going and staying: Grit to Stay Grace to Go: Staying Well in Cross-Cultural Ministry.

Today we have an interview with them, and we hope you’ll join us next Monday for the webinar!

Without further ado, my interview with Sue and Eva.

Sue and Eva, thank you so much for being with us. I’m curious, what drew you to the topic of going and staying?

Sue: We know cross-cultural ministry is hard, and it is. Really hard. But often we are under-prepared for how difficult it is. So, some people leave too soon. I read recently that 47 percent of workers leave the field within the first five years. But it isn’t just hard in that first term. Mid-term and even end of career workers have their own set of challenges. We want to help equip people to stay and not leave prematurely. 

As someone who was tempted to leave too soon, I wanted to develop a resource that would help people stay even when life and ministry feel overwhelming. 

Eva: Sue and I wrote this book to encourage global workers to develop grit not only stay, but to stay well, especially when everyone else seems to be leaving. We also want GW to develop grace for others when they go or when it’s their time to go. And then we wanted to help them to know how to make an informed choice. 

As a member care provider, I kept hearing stories of loss around teammates leaving. Other authors have addressed the goer, but few have concentrated on helping those who remain process this loss and grow through it. I wanted to do that in this book.

That’s so important! It’s not just about staying, but staying well. That’s a lot of ground to cover :). How have you organized the book?

Grit to Stay Grace to Go has three parts: 

In part one, Sue discusses the many challenges global workers face and the lies they believe that tempt them to leave too soon. Through stories from her own and others’ experiences, she encourages global workers to not only stay, but to stay well by clinging to truth when circumstances are intense. She hopes readers will take away a renewed commitment to stay by listening to truth and not lies when facing the difficulties in cross-cultural ministry.

Part two, which Eva focuses on, explores more deeply one specific challenge to staying well—the difficulty of watching teammates and friends depart. Testimony after testimony from fellow cross-cultural workers illustrate the reactions of hurt, disappoint, grief, guilt, and even judgment this revolving door brings. She hopes that stayers will turn this challenge into an opportunity to extend grace to goers—to forgive, bless, let go, and live in the present, helping stayers say goodbye well to those who go.

Sometimes workers choose to leave the field in the heat of conflict, when they are burned out, or in isolation after a stressful season. Sometimes God leads his messengers to leave the field or change jobs. But going is also hard. After all, it doesn’t just take grit to stay, it also takes grit to go. Therefore, in part three, we offer thoughtful questions to help readers make an intentional, not reactive, decision when they are undecided. Questions such as: Why do I want to transition? Who do I need to talk to and when? What would I do if I weren’t afraid? Have I already moved on? What would I be going to? We hope that thoughtful reflection will help those considering whether to go, to do so in a healthy way with grace no matter the outcome.

It’s unique to author a book with someone. So, I love that I get to ask you what you enjoyed about working with each other?

Sue: Eva’s experience in member care enabled her to come to this project with expertise and a plethora of resources. Her own journey as a TCK and global worker enabled her to contribute with great skill and insight. She is a gifted writer and more concise than me. Eva helped me reign in my stories and limit my abundant use of exclamation points! I enjoyed hearing about her life and how God has worked in and through her. We had fun, worked hard, and looked for God’s guidance together. Collaboration almost always produces a richer resource with the potential of reaching a broader audience.

Eva: I joke that if I had written this book, it would be 100 pages, and if Sue had written it alone, it would be 1000. Working together definitely helped us produce a better resource. Between Sue’s and my experience, we were able to cover a greater range of examples and topics. Working with someone kept me on task. I couldn’t just keep editing but had to call it good at some point. I enjoyed getting to know Sue a lot better than I had known her before this project. I felt honored that she would collaborate with me and accept my input.

Final question, what do you hope the reader gains from reading this book?

Sue: We hope this workbook provides hope and help that encourages people to stay longer. But if they stay, to stay well. Staying isn’t always good and leaving isn’t always bad. Deciding which is right for you is rough; we pray that this workbook will help each of us be more thoughtful and intentional in the process of deciding what to do. Sometimes we choose to leave the field in the heat of conflict, when we are burned out, or in isolation after a stressful season. We can’t make the decision-making process easy, but this book can assist those looking for guidance.

Eva: We hope readers will take away a renewed commitment to stay, to listen to truth and not lies about how difficult cross-cultural ministry is, especially when others around you are leaving. I hope they will find help to make intentional, and not reactive, decisions to leave when the time is right.

Sue and Eva, I love getting to talk with authors, so thank you for your time with us. I know I’m not alone in looking forward to our time on Monday in the webinar!

Dear reader, don’t forget to sign up below for the webinar with Sue and Eva on October 23rd. (9:00 a.m. EDT, see this for your time zone)!

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.




  1. Lynn P

    As one who has stayed and wrestled with the losses of many teammates, and one who has also wrestled with should I stay or go several times, I am looking forward to this webinar.

    With those who left I felt the loss of someone that had become family. I understood their decisions and they were right for them, but it was still loss and has happened over and over again.

  2. Shannon Eaton

    Prevention has been a big aspect of my whole career first as a nurse, then serving on the field, and now serving in member care to be more proactive and not reactive. Looking forward to this webinar to gain insight and understanding from these two ladies’ experience and work with many other global workers in how to help those who stay to not only have grit and also the grace for others who leave.


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