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June 1980 Newsletter
COLOMBIAN CHRISTIAN MISSION
Dale and Jeanie Meade
In the jungle and prairie of Southeastern Colombia
Volume 8, Issue 6 June, 1980
"Why are you going in August?" Is a question that we have been asked quite often in recent months. Many people are curious as to how a missionary sets his furlough date. Even national Christians inquire as to why some missionaries go every three of four years while others go only after five or six years. The theme is a worthy one and we would like to explain the process behind setting a furlough date.
When the first missionaries of the modern era began to leave England, there was no thought of furlough. Terms often lasted 15 years to an entire lifetime. Any return was usually dictated by death or illness in the family of a missionary. Many never returned to their country of origin. This was due to several factors. First was the time and expense involved in getting to the mission field or mission station. The journey was not only time consuming but dangerous as well. Travel was also more expensive comparatively in those days. Often the trip would involve a sum equal to the amount needed to sustain the missionary family for many years on the field. As western democracies became wealthier, the expense factor began to decrease in importance. At the same time, steam ships sliced many long months of the time needed for travel. Mission giving also became more oriented towards the missionary rather than missions. A renewed emphasis on Biblical methods began to place importance on another totally different aspect of the missionary ministry: namely that of reporting home to the sending churches. The furlough soon became an established part of missionary service. Furloughs at that time were commonly scheduled every six to eight years. This pattern continued up until the time of the Second World War. At this time a distinct rapid change began to take place.
International travel was revolutionized by the invention of the airplane. Travel to distant lands was no longer a question of several months; it was a matter of a few days or even hours. At the same time mission theory again took a distinct change in orientation. The mission station began to live among the people. This had very many important advantages for the growth of an indigenous church. It did have one side effect. The missionary no longer had good schools and hospitals at his disposal. Therefore a more frequent furlough, for health and educational reasons was often deemed essential. At the same time the cultural differences between the western democracies and the third world increased dramatically, due to the technological advances and increased standard of living. Emotional strain on the missionary family was increased. The quality of education in the sending countries increased for more rapidly than that of the foreign countries. Sending churches also requested more frequent furloughs for receiving of information and for simply permitting the missionary to visit his family. The need for specialization and continued education on the part of the missionary was also an influencing factor. Most missionaries use the furlough for further studies, general in some area that will be beneficial to the work.
The setting of a furlough should take into consideration the above mentioned factors. Time, distance, and money are still important factors. The age of a missionaryâ€™s children should also be taken into consideration. The family back home will want to see the children as they grow up. Also their culture and language patterns are being formed in these early years. The wishes and philosophy of the sending churches, and especially that of the overseeing elders, should weigh heavily in the decision. The date for the school opening, a family reunion, graduation, or a marriage are factors that often cause adjustments in furlough dates. These were all important factors in setting August, 1980 as the date for our next furlough. So if your church would like us to share with you, we will be available after the third week of September. Many dates are already booked, especially during the faith promise and revival season. Please write as soon as possible and include a first and second choice for dates in order to expedite things. Lord willing we will be able to share with you soon.