Feeding Ourselves Spiritually
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Finding Spiritual Food

Dear <<First Name>>,

One of the biggest concerns many cross-cultural workers have is how to maintain a vibrant spiritual life. Especially for those in their first term of language and cultural acquisition, church is not typically a very spiritually filling experience. Struggling to pick out the five words you have memorized in a sermon and then make some type of meaning out of them is often a long shot for "being fed." Read the article below for some excellent practical tips from Dr. Karidis on self-feeding.

                                        Find Something and Eat It!
                                              by Dr. Lynn Karidis

When a previous employer transferred me to a rural city in another state, I immediately began searching for the local grocery store. I knew I wasn’t in Metro-Detroit anymore when, on my way to the front door, a complete stranger looked me in the eye, smiled, and said “Hello!” Though the culture of this new area was obviously different, at least the store clerk spoke my language, and I could read the labels on the food! Since then, I’ve heard from many cross-cultural workers that learning how to find food in a new location is a very stressful thing. 

I’ve noticed the same anxiety in believers who are searching for spiritual food. Candidates heading for the field wonder what they should do to prepare for the time when they live in cities and attend churches filled with people who don’t speak their first language. And members who have served on the field for years wonder what they should do when the spiritual disciplines they have been using don’t seem to work anymore. 

Two pertinent questions people typically ask are “What should I feed myself?” and “How should I feed myself?” Regarding what I should feed myself, though spiritual health is multifaceted, Scripture is clear that prayer and Bible intake are the staples of a believer’s spiritual life, just as food and water are necessities for our physical life. On prayer see: Matt. 6:7-13, 26:41; Mk. 1:35; Lk. 5:16, 18:1; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:1-4, 8; Heb. 4:16; Jas. 5:13-16. On Bible intake see: Deut. 6:1-9; Ps. 1:1-3; 19:7-11; 119:9-11, 97-104, 105; Prov. 2:1-6; Matt. 4:4; Rom. 12:2, 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Heb. 4:12. The extent to which we partake of this spiritual food is often a barometer of our spiritual health. 

As to the question of how we feed ourselves, there are a multitude of good books full of ideas on how to spend time in the Word and in prayer, including: Shaped by the Word, by M. Robert Mulholland Jr., which describes the difference between “formational” and “informational” reading of the Word; Dynamic Bible Study Methods, by Rick Warren, which provides instructions for 12 different Bible study methods; Prayer, by Richard Foster, which describes over 20 different types of prayer practices; and Godly Servants, by David Teague, which specifically addresses the spiritual formation of missionaries. 

Perhaps the most comprehensive book on this subject is the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, which provides more than 350 ways to practice suggested spiritual disciplines. If you’re looking to try something new because the old practices don’t seem to be working anymore, this is a great place to start. 

The key to our participation in spiritual growth is perseverance in the disciplines—almost any prayer or Bible intake discipline will do—coupled with an understanding that just because I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything out of today’s Bible reading doesn’t mean that God isn’t using it to transform me from the inside out. God’s work in our souls is not always obvious in the moment of Bible intake. It often shows up later, when God reminds us of a verse exactly in the moment we need it. 

One of my favorite cartoons—drawn by Gary Larson (The Far Side)—shows a dinosaur contemplating his daily calendar. It’s open to the month of March and in each little daily box is written (I’m paraphrasing): “Find something and eat it.” Good advice for the dinosaur—and the Christian, too.


On the Wiki

For additional resources to aid you in finding spiritual food, check out the Personal Growth page on the wiki. There you will find everything from a guide for a Day Alone with God to a series of questions called Reflect and Refocus to help you holistically think about how your ministry and spiritual lives link together. Have a suggestion that has worked well for you? Email us and let us know.

**Please note-if you have trouble logging in or need to renew your subscription, please email Ted or Gary who can help get you set up!

                                    Sustainable Resilience

Kick off the New Year with resilience!  Sustainable Resilience is a one-week online course designed to give you tools to understand and grow in resilience and to keep your life and ministry true to your calling. The dictionary definition of resilience is “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.”  For people we define that as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”  Cross-cultural life and ministry entails many constant, chronic stressors, as well as occasional life-crunching events.  To recover our footing, maintain our perspective, and stay true to our ministry calling, resilience is critical! Register here for the next Sustainable Resilience Course that will run from January 2-7 2019.


SEND U is still looking for a volunteer to help with our wiki administration. If you like details, a little technology, administration, and have 5-10 hours a month to give, this could be the perfect fit for you! Please email the SEND U Director if you are interested.
IGP Reflection: What Progress Have you Made on your IGP this year?

We are approaching the end of the calendar year, which means we should all be thinking about our new Individual Growth Plans for 2019. However, it also means we should spend some time reflecting on the learning we've done in 2018. The IGP form asks you to reflect on the following on page 2:
-Significant lessons learned from these learning activities.
-Changes you have noticed because of your learning this past year.

We will be posting a new reflection guide for you to use with your accountability person or whomever you chose to share your IGP with at the beginning of the year. In the meantime, here are some questions you and this person can utilize in your reflection conversation. 
 Looking Back
·      What progress did you make on your IGP this year?
·      What other successes did you experience in working towards these goals?
·      What challenges did you experience?
·      What learning would you like to make sure you capture moving forward?
Looking Forward
·      What would you like to do differently going forward? 
·      What goals are you thinking about for your IGP for next year?
·      What are some steps you could take towards reaching your IGP Goals for next            year?
·      What help from me or anyone else might you benefit from in successfully moving

Keep learning,

Beth Eckstein
SEND U Interim Director based in Taichung, Taiwan

The latest 5 posts to the SEND U blog:

Book Review: Contextualizing the Faith


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