When I moved to the field, we were allowed to bring one Bible for our personal use. It was a legit reality that luggage could be searched, and we didn’t want to give any reason for further scrutiny. Beyond packing my Bible, I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t give much more thought to feeding my soul. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out!” could be my life motto. And we did. God worked in our naivety and was so kind to us.
But here is what I wish I had known: just as it took me a while to figure out how to feed my body because the markets and the food were so exciting, but so different, it took me a while to figure out to how to feed my soul in this new environment, too.
Here is what I wish I had had: a simple resource to hold my hand and help me stay connected to God while I connected to my new life.
One of my favorite chapters to write in Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year in Cross-Cultural Service was “God and You.” That chapter explores the ways your relationship with God changes in that first year. No surprise, my desire is for every person to stay connected to God, but especially during seasons of great disruption like moving to the field. Given that it was one of my favorite chapters to write, I will now tell you my least favorite part: not all of it made it into the final edition.
Getting Started was too long, and when I ruthlessly had to cut it, one of my favorite sections in my favorite chapter did not make it. It was a painful truth that something I had worked on and been eager to share . . . didn’t get the green light from God via the editors. This is part of the life of ministry, isn’t it? While I didn’t get the green light, I also didn’t get the red light, I got the yellow light. “It’s not time for these words. They will be lost if you insist on them being included. Their time will come, just not yet.”
When I’m excited, the worst message I can get is, “Wait.” I hate it. But I trusted (and hoped) God had a better plan for those words and the ways He wanted to use them in the world.
Today I am excited anew for those words because they have grown into their very own book! It’s a short book, more of a workbook, for someone in their first year. It is small enough that it could slip into your suitcase, and it is portable enough that you can get it on Kindle and use your own notebook. Without further ado, meet Connected: Starting Your Overseas Life Spiritually Fed.
As I studied the fruit of the Spirit, they seemed to follow the perfect path for someone adjusting to cross-cultural life. So, this book focuses on a fruit of the Spirit each month and helps someone in their first year adjust to the realities of life on the field, while staying connected to God.
In this book you will journey through the fruit of the Spirit. You can picture it, can’t you? Starting with a foundation of love (month one), adding to it joy (month two), then focusing on peace (month three often needs an extra dose of peace!), and then patience (month four), kindness (month five), goodness (month six), faithfulness (month seven), gentleness (month eight), and finally self-control (month nine), you stay connected to God.
This book is intended for people in their first year, but even if you’re not in your first year you can benefit from Connected. If you’re in leadership or work with member care, Connected could also be a resource to use with their first-year folks to create a common language and shared experience.
Liz, an advance reader, said, “I really liked how Connected was simple and straight to the point and didn’t box you in with feeling like you had to answer it in the Sunday school way!”
Because part of growing and developing as a cross-cultural worker involves celebration, let’s celebrate this new resource! Leave a comment and two of you will win a hard copy (if mailed in the U.S.) or a copy on Kindle (anywhere in the world). What fruit of the Spirit are you enjoying or needing these days?
Let’s also celebrate that God is a God of Connections! Connected to Him and connected to the places and people He calls us! The winner will be awarded on Friday evening MST. Comment, share, and celebrate!
Patience. That’s what I need. Patience with myself in the lessons I’m still learning in my overseas life, and patience with the higher-than-normal percentage of newbies around me. Only by His grace…
This sounds like a great resource for the first on the field, but it might be just as helpful for this season of being in my passport country first who knows how long! I love the concept!
Honestly, yes! I think it can be useful anytime we’re entering a new season (and especially when geography is added in!)
Peace. With a lot of the precautions around Covid not being adhered to in my host country coupled with political unrest and confusion, I’m in a season of rediscovering what it means to have internal peace when there is external chaos.
Priscilla . . . what a beautiful distinction of the internal and external and focusing on where we have more influence. (And it’s frustrating!!)
I think many reading this can relate to needing an extra dose of patience! (and especially with so many newbies. Grateful for them! and it can be exhausting)
I’m actually not living overseas anymore – we relocated to the US 3.5 years ago, and yet I still find I relate a lot to the overseas world. And really, one needs spiritual development any where you are. 🙂
Right now, peace is what I need most. I have been struggling with some episodes of anxiety lately, brought on by some stressful situations. I’m working through it but still needing and desiring God’s peace in the midst of it.
Kiera, this is my third time typing this comment and the internet refusing to post it. SO, I think there is more going on than simply the internet!! I’m so glad to see your name and as I’m typing this, I’m praying for you and for peace! Either I’m very bad at praying — since this is my third time (ha!), or you really need them 🙂 . . . or both! Truly, I am praying for peace in the midst of anxiety episodes. (Amen! and Lord please let this post!!)
Wow! Thanks for your persistence, Amy and your prayers. I have been feeling God work lately and am grateful for his increasing peace.
I’m in need of patience….especially with rules I’m not fond of at the moment. It’s been a long year, and I feel like my patience for much of anything is running out.
Oh Laura! That’s how I feel too . . . this has been going on for so long and my patience seems more like the last dregs than a bottomless pitcher :)!!
Patience. I am needing to be still and wait for Gods timing on my life.
Pepukai, stillness doesn’t come easy to me :). So I undertand the need to be still! . . . and the ways that God can only speak when I stop MOVING. Praying patience for you!
So excited for this book! I wish I had it when we went to the field. I’m anxious to get a copy, even if I buy it. 🙂 I keep seeking the Lord for understanding peace in the storms.
Karen, I love the image of peace in the storms because it helps me move my focus from the storms (that I can’t control) to how I can BE in the storms. :)!!
I’m really excited about this book! Probably peace and patience would be the biggest ones for me–it’s easy to get too caught up in questions about the future in light of what all’s been going on.
Megann, thanks! It is indeed “easy to get caught up in” :)! Patience and peace truly make such a difference!
I’m really in need of kindness. Sometimes it’s easy to be selfish and focused on my bubble, but there’s a world out there who is in desperate need of Christ and His love! I want God to grow my response to be first kindness before selfishness.
Morgan, YES! Kindness helps me take my focus off of myself and see others 🙂 . . . and when I do, there is almost always someone I can be kind to.
Patience and self-control would be at the top of my need list! I moved to Mexico during the pandemic and knowing God is at work when things are still closed (including churches, where I could most likely begin to develop community) has really been testing the fruit of patience in me!
And self-control because it is so easy to lack motivation and discipline in a new place in these weird times!
Kelsey, oh what a hard season to start to build relationships . . . and the umph needed to keep going! Praying for patience and self-control for you!
Peace is what I need. In a world that seems turned on its head and where chaos appears to reign, my soul longs for peace.
Susan, as I read this I thought of using the Hebrew word “Shalom” (since it’s two syllables) for a breath prayer. This week I read how God has wired our brains and limbic systems that if we exhale longer than we inhale it signals to our body that we are safe.
Three seconds inhaling, six seconds exhaling …. sha, lom.
Longing for peace is good. May God’s shalom be with you today!
That’s a great piece of insight – using this right now.
I can use some patience as I was about to leave for the field in 12 days but ended up in the hospital. Now I have to postpone my going to the field. Hopefully I can leave again a bit later
Marleke . . . I read this and wanted to scream, “NOOOOOOO!” (so I seem to need more self-control!!). I’m so sorry. Praying patience and some laughs for you.
Asking for you to have more joy!
I am continuously working on patience!
Not to laugh Laura, but your comment made me chuckle . . . “continuously working on patience” (sounds like you might be closer than you think? that sounds very patient of you ;))
Love what you said in another post about the book, “Here’s what I didn’t know at that time: your relationship with God changes when you move to the field because you are responsible for it in ways you do not have to be when you are in your home country. ” So very true!!
For me, patience is always needed. It is so easy to get frustrated when people aren’t quick enough, able enough, or ready when I am. A lifelong journey!!
Susan!! Me too . . . it’s a life long journey for poeple when people are not quick enough OR God forbid, not efficient enough :). Journeying with you.
After three major moves in the last three years, the last one due to health needs I am trusting God to continue producing patience in my life! And now as we reconnect in a host country where we lived previously patience is even more needed as COVID makes life and ministry different from the way things were before we left in 2019.
Vikki! Three major moves in three years?! I think everyone reading this feels the weight of those moves with/for you. And to then to reconnect with a host culture in shifting sands. Praying for you!
Would this book also be helpful for someone starting a new term or a new ministry? Or is it best for someone new to cross-cultural work?
It would! Perhaps a couple of the questions you might need to adjust, but I believe you can figure them out :)!
Self control is what I need. And joy is what I’m enjoying 🙂
I’m glad, Jenaya, that you are experiencing joy!!! And will ask for self-control :).
I feel like this will be such a great resource! I don’t currently have the green light to move to the field, but will be great to have when those things actually happen.
My biggest need for growth is in patience. 😌
Waiting for those green lights can be hard, Lauren! I’ll be praying for patience for you 🙂
Excited about this resource!
Our own spiritual health is so vital and yet we often just “wing it”.
I love the idea of focusing on the fruits that the Spirit is producing in us. Polishing and refining those by spending time focusing each month…. YES!!
Gentleness is the one I want to be polished right now. Gentle with myself, gentle in my speech and gentle with others.
I love this well-rounded view of gentleness, Liz. Yes! With ourselves, in speech, and with others. Praying for you (and me!)
Like so many, I need patience. We are in a season of waiting till we can return to the field and in that season we don’t know where we will be living in just 6 weeks time, or how long we will be wherever we end up next. It can be draining – so I guess peace and joy are also needed (timely as we approach Christmas and the beautiful reminder that is for us in all three of these fruits)!
Rebecca, I hear ya! Draining is a good way of describing life for many of us. It feels like holes keep getting poked in my cup . . . so, I’m praying for you (and me) that the Lord, will plug these holes with patience, peace, and joy!
Gentleness and Patience! Gentleness with myself and others seems to fade at the same time patience does. A healthy dose of both would be a great way to end the year, as we wait to return to our home!
Jeremy, ah yes! Gentleness and Patience go together . . . either enabling or eroding each other. i’m so sorry you’re stuck in a holding pattern and pray for the day you can go home!
As I read the listing of the fruits attached to a month, I recognized self-control, indicated at month nine. I find that to be very significant. Past the “honeymoon” stage, working to grow the other fruits, but needing the commitment, the choice-making strength, the spiritual discipline to be developed in a new setting. Self-control is so important in turning short-term into longer term.
Marcia, like you, I found it significant! We need love at the beginning to build a solid base, but by month nine, we need self-control for the longer term. I appreciate your insight!
For me at the present time patience is the most important that I need.
Mechthild, may the Lord’s patience go before you, with you, and behind you. Amen and amen.
Peace…I have a difficult meeting next week on Monday regarding a member care issue with the overseas entity. Praying for me to be understood but also to understand their view point. Thank you!
Joshua, as I read your comment and type these words, I have paused and prayed that you would experience God’s presence. That you would understand and be understood. And that decisions you make are motivated by love . . . and that it is far more loving to act, than to leave this unaddressed. Amen.
I’ve been wanting to do a study on the fruit of the Spirit. Can’t remember when the last time was!
I also know I need much more ‘kindness’ in this season of life where stress triggers the wrong reactions and behaviours.
Sounds like a great book!
Thank you, Karen! May the Lord use you as an intrument of kindness today :)!
Love. All the other fruits seem contingent on love, and my my heart is in need of alignment. There are so many things that derail me in my pursuit and desire to grow in knowledge and experience of God’s love. This books sounds like a great opportunity to be intentional in pursuing these life giving fruits.
Janice, I think you’re right 🙂 . . . and just wait for my next book that is more like a traditional book (this one is more like a workbook). I agree that love is foundational! Praying for you to be flooded with love.
P squared is what I need…peace and patience. (I know I was only supposed to pick one). 2020 has required extra patience and has tested my abilities to find peace in the midst of chaos. I’ll take a fresh does of each please! Thanks for writing this book, Amy. I can’t wait to have it in my toolbox and share it with others.
3 p’s … please, peace and patience! Eve, I think many of us would join you in the lines for those fruit . . . for the very reasons you listed!! You’re not alone 🙂
Patience and Joy. Patience with all the unknowns and unanswerables, even prior to Covid19. On further reflection about my first thought, Joy is needed in the midst of the patience building through waiting. Looking forward to reading and recommending this book 🙂
Wilma, it is interesting how the combo of “joy and patiecne” can make almost anything bearable!
A couple of fruits of the spirit I am working on right now are definitely patience and joy. It’s definitely a season of waiting on the Lord and having joy while waiting.
Joy while waiting! That does make all the difference, doesn’t it Dedra. Thanks for the comment!
Patience. Patience to wait on others who have to act so that I can complete my work projects. Joy while I am quarantined (and missing Thanksgiving with my family) because people who choose not to mask exposed me to COVID.
I’m a mobilizer and I’ll be connecting soon with a group of two dozen people who want to go to the field in the next 5 years. I look forward to reading your book, and (I assume) recommending it to them.
Melissa, your comment highlights how very much we are connected to . . . and thereby impacted . . . by others! I’m so sorry you’ll have to miss Thanksgiving with your family. That is a true loss. (And I do hope the book will be a helpful resource for the people you help to mobilize!).
For me, it would be peace in all the upheaval. A close second would be patience with all the restrictions that hinder my interaction with people, especially with my mom who is in a care facility here in Japan. God has been gracious in that she recognizes me more often than not in the short 5 minutes I can be with her. I find myself anxious a lot of the time without even knowing how to express my heart.
Oh Georgia . . . your sweet comment says so much, though it is short it carries much weight. With all that you are carrying and experiencing, I’m praying for the Lord to envelope you with peace and patience that touch those deep parts of the anxiety that is hard to express and might feel like a bit swirl.
As I consider this really good question, I am choosing “self-control”. Since I am locked out of my area in my passport country, and having been changing locations often enough to feel like a tumbleweed – I realize that my responses are more “hasty” than they might generally be. I desire to wrap self-control with patience and peace that flows abundantly from being rooted and grounded in love.
Becky, on long drives across western Kansas and eastern Colorado I can picture tumbleweeds flying in front of me. I’m so sorry you’ve had to change locations so often!! Self-control with patience and peace and love would help root (so maybe a less tumbly :)?)!
Patience…. we have recently returned to the field after a 7 month, unintentional, stay in the states due to Covid-19. I need patience for myself…my language abilities, readjusting to life in another culture, readjusting to a return to working at a fast pace, etc. So just patience for this transition!
Kristy! What a weird/disorienting year of hurry up and wait and wait and not sure how long to keep waiting and then back to hurry up! And I imagine that the culture you’ve returned to is not quite the culture it was before. Prayers and patience (and JOY) be with you in this transition!
Patience- God’s timing isn’t always ours and lately this has weighed very heavily on my soul. Trusting him and His plans.
Gayly, I feel the weight of your words. This is a heavy season and I’ll join with you in asking for patience.
Self-control has been hard to come by during the last several months when normal routines were upended. I know several young couples heading to serve overseas soon, and I am glad that this resource is available.
Carole, “upended” captures so much for so many! Thank you . . . praying for self-control for you!
Hi Amy, This sounds like a great resource. Currently, I find I need and also am experiencing ‘Peace’. It’s enabled me to adapt/respond well to unexpected challenges that wait for me each day but also has been what I find myself calling out to God for when anxious thoughts creep in. So, I find peace being something I both cry out for at times while feeling it’s abundance at other times.
Rob, ah! You’ve expressed one of the paradoxes of faith, haven’t you! That we can both need and be experiencing a fruit of the Spirit. Glad for the peace you’ve been experiencing, and asking for moreabundance of peace to flow!
Definitely patience! I”ve been serving cross culturally for almost 2 decades but still wrestle most with God’s timing. In hindsight I can always see why He made me wait, and I have to keep reminding myself that His timing is perfect.
Owen, I’m the same! With hindsight I can see how God was at work, but in the midst of daily life, I can forget that a BIGGER plan is in play :)!
Honestly, I could probably do with a booster shot of all of them, but I guess the biggest felt need is peace.
David, I like the idea of a booster shot! May the Lord’s peace be yours today.
I’m very much in a season of waiting and that’s hard! So I definitely could use some patience for the mean time.
Shelia, oh seasons of waiting are SO HARD!! Praying patience for you!