A dear friend and fellow MK who attended Kent Academy messaged me the other day to see if I had seen this letter. It came to her from email@example.com. As you can see it is addressed to all SIM Mks. I never received a copy even though I thought I was on the Simroots mailing list. Have you seen it? I decided some of the SIM MKs who read this blog might not be on the distribution list either.
At any rate, you can read the letter below. There is an email address where you can send comments, Katrina.Conley@sim.org. Katrina is an executive assistant at SIM International Inc. I encourage every one with an opinion to write to Katrina. It is rare that we get a contact from SIM who will actually communicate with us about this subject – believe me I have tried over the years. If Dr. Bogunjoko is willing to do this it is a gift!
To all SIM MKs:
Please take time to read this special message of gratitude from Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko, International Director.
Celebrating You | 5 December 2016 | Founders’ Day
Dear children of missionaries past and present,
On December 4th, every year, the SIM community worldwide celebrates as a Day of Prayer the arrival of the first Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) missionaries in Lagos, Nigeria. This year I am calling on all of SIM, in accordance with our Founder’s Day practice, to set aside Monday, December 5, to give thanks, to celebrate and to pray.
This letter is for you if you are a child of missionaries past or present, from any of the missions which flowed into SIM over the years, whether your parents served during your adulthood or childhood, and for any duration of service. This year’s thanksgiving, celebration and prayers is for you. Your personal contribution to the making of disciples, indeed, to the emergence and growth of the church in all corners of the world, is as incalculable as it is invisible. Therefore, on this Founders’ Day, the SIM worldwide community is pausing to affirm and acknowledge the remarkable role you have played. We celebrate and give thanks for you.
Perhaps you have not been privileged to glimpse the result of your parents’ work, to experience the joy of seeing the fruit of their labour. I assure you that their labour and your sacrifice have never been in vain. That I am the one sending this letter to you gives testimony to that fact. I committed my life to Christ while attending a mission school established by SIM, where I was discipled by a missionary. As a product of SIM ministry over many years, and now not only serving in SIM but leading SIM globally, you can rejoice that your contribution and your experiences have never been in vain. Christ has the victory. I, and millions of others like me, bear testimony to this victory. Because of you and your family, many more, like myself, can understand God’s good news. Thank you.
You were born into a family that, in the course of your life, carried the gospel to others, and this necessitated personal sacrifice, which I acknowledge by this letter. We celebrate with gratitude your service alongside your parents. Often the focus of mission work is on your parents and their cross-cultural ministry. However, at times you bore the weight of the calling of God on your parents’ lives; thus you have made sacrifices that may have gone unacknowledged by anyone. All children are impacted by their parents’ vocation, whether in missions or not. Yet the impact of a missionary vocation on a family is unique.
We acknowledge your own commitment and contributions to the work that was done or is being done by your parents. Perhaps you were active in the work in tangible ways, or you accepted situations into which you were entrusted that allowed your parents to do their work. You may be one who has experienced suffering or adversity, perhaps from separation from your parents at an early age. Some have had close encounters with diseases, natural disasters, civil unrest, or other hazards. We acknowledge the price that you may have paid so that the gospel of Christ’s saving grace can be preached to a dying world.
We celebrate your victories. While growing up in cultures that were not your parents’, many have gone on to use those experiences as stepping stones to greater things. Many of you have achieved remarkable things for yourselves, your families, your communities, for the church and for the gospel. For some, growing up in another culture was not always positive; for others, it is one of the greatest gifts from their parents. I hope this is your experience, and even if not, I am thankful that you are still with us to see the result. We celebrate your accomplishments and the accomplishments of MKs all over the world.
Many of you have gone out as missionaries, taking your own children along. Many more have contributed to ministries or to the local communities into which God has placed you. We celebrate your contributions, your resilience, your grace, your hope. Your unique experiences are almost impossible to explain to those who never walked in your shoes. You are often misunderstood in both your host culture and in your parents’ home culture. Yet this you have endured with determination, a sense of humor, and ultimately with renewed grace. We celebrate you today as one of “our” MKs, as one of our masterpieces created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. I want to personally thank you for the blessings that you and your family have been to many.
Here are some ways that the mission family will be in prayer for you on December 5:
- We pray for renewal and the refreshing presence of the Lord in your life today and always.
- We pray that the light of the gospel may shine radiantly in your life and that the Lord will fill your life with joy as you remember the path of your life as an MK and the outcome of your and your family’s sacrifice.
- We pray for God’s victory in your life and in all your endeavors.
- We pray for God’s lavish blessing over you today and always.
- We pray healing for the hurts that you may have suffered or still suffer, and healing from the pain.
With gratitude for you and for all that you have endured for the gospel.
SIM International Director
Comments and replies may be directed to Katrina.Conley@sim.org
International Leadership and Services
1838 Gold Hill Road, Fort Mill SC 29715.
My thoughts about this letter:
Dr. Bogunjoko is the first SIM International Director to come from a Nigerian and ECWA background. He has a background as a healer, both physician and surgeon, as well as a Master of Arts in Leadership and Management. When I go to the SIM web site and look at his photos I see a man with all of the qualities I love about Nigerian people, a warm smile, a caring face and a joyful attitude. I am encouraged that he is thinking about and acknowledging MKs, especially acknowledging that not all of our experiences have been positive. He mentions suffering for a variety of reasons, culture shock and the fact that some of us are still in pain. This is true. Seeing that these things exist is a good start, but I feel he doesn’t completely grasp the reasons why there is still pain.
It seems to me that he gives MKs a much more active role in their parent’s ministry than they really had. The personal sacrifice he talks about was made by parents. They sacrificed their lives, their jobs, in some cases their vocations, even their own families as many of them left behind parents and siblings who died while they were overseas. They also sacrificed their own children, by sending them off to be cared for by other adults who did not know them or love them.
MKs did not sacrifice, we were sacrificed. This was a passive thing, which we did not choose and had no control over. No MK that I know had a choice in whether to go to boarding school at age six, whether to then leave those friendships to spend a year (a lifetime at that age) in another country on furlough, and then get uprooted again to have to form completely new friendships at the boarding school in the first country. This was not a result of any commitment or contribution on our part. All these decisions were made for us by parents and mission personnel who chose to sacrifice children for missionary work.
So to reiterate, we do not carry pain from choices and decisions and sacrifices that we made. (Although I think there are a good many SIM missionary parents out there who still feel that kind of pain.) We feel pain from things that were done to us. We did not and still do not “accept situations into which we were entrusted.” As children we were powerless to make a decision about where we were sent, and there was virtually no choice left to us at boarding school, as even attempts to communicate unhappiness back to our parents was censored and discouraged.
While SIM is celebrating those MKs who have achieved remarkable things and many victories, I wonder if they are also willing to embrace and celebrate the ones who are struggling with life, even into middle age and beyond. I am talking about those of us who suffer from depression and panic attacks, who are unable to form emotional bonds with others, who have shut out any relationship with God since they blame Him for their pain. Those who live every day with addictions they can’t shake, and those with terrible parenting skills who are passing on the pain to their own kids. What about the MKs who have spent years in prison, those who have taken their own lives or think about suicide as a way out, those who are homeless or have never been able to keep a job? These are the people who are rarely heard, never celebrated and most in need of healing.
Is SIM willing to acknowledge the MKs who are not examples of victorious and successful living? Those who aren’t contributing or resilient, who have no hope, who may no longer even believe in God? Is SIM, a company that specializes in communication, willing to try to communicate with these MKs?