A letter from Tom Goetz in the U.S., long-term mission volunteer on sabbatical from Japan
Greetings in Christ’s name. This letter comes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I am on a sabbatical from Hokusei Gakuen University. During this time I have had the blessing of visiting different Presbyterian churches each Sunday, visiting the presbytery meetings of Milwaukee, Chicago, Blackhawk, and later, John Knox.
It is such an honor to meet so many church leaders and listen to their stories, joys and struggles, and, in particular, to be able to share the need to support our Presbyterian World Mission long-term volunteers and mission co-workers presently in service.
During this visit I have felt called to reach out to churches that are currently not supporting any mission co-worker or long-term volunteer. I am convinced that we need to reach out to each PC(USA) congregation and make sure that they feel personally invited to join in the sending and support of our international mission personnel and to learn how God is working through our ecumenical partners all over the world. Because once congregations join in praying for and supporting Presbyterian mission workers, new friendships are made and the feeling of being partners in God’s mission opens the door to spiritual growth.
In my visits to churches I have learned how much we all have in common: we gather, worship, and live in a covenant relationship marked by faith, hope, love, trust and witness to Jesus Christ. And, the churches’ websites not only announce but also show evidence to such in modest to boastful ways. In light of this I have prepared the following text that can be reproduced in church bulletins or on church websites, even if churches are not yet supporting any Presbyterian World Mission long-term international volunteers or mission co-workers. Here is the text with pictures.
Support a Long-Term International Volunteer
In January 2016 our Presbyterian World Mission division of the Presbyterian Mission Agency held an informative retreat in the Philippines for mission co-workers and long-term volunteers serving in East Asia. What we heard was rough going, to say the least.
The funds that have supported many, especially long-term volunteers, will run dry this year. A decision was made years ago to continue accepting long-term volunteers and use mission funds to meet their relatively modest needs. The assumption was that with continued and newer donations, this structure would sustain itself. Such has not happened. Now, in addition to our full-time work, long-term volunteers will also need to raise funds for their sending and support costs.
My name is Thomas Goetz, member of the Milwaukee Presbytery since 1989 and a long-term volunteer of the PC(USA) in Japan since 1992. I am a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, M.Div. Class of 1989, and a member of the Milwaukee Presbytery, ordained to serve outside of its geographical bounds.
I also hold an M.Ed. in Applied Linguistics from Temple University. I am a fully tenured professor of English at Hokusei Gakuen University, where I direct our largest English program and serve on the Smith Mission Center, Admissions, and Foreign Languages Division committees. By presidential appointment I have a permanent seat on the Smith Mission Center Committee.
HOKUSEI GAKUEN UNIVERSITY
Hokusei Gakuen was founded by Presbyterian missionary Sarah C. Smith of Elmira, New York, 130 years ago. Initially it was a school for girls, but it now has a boarding school for troubled teens, a middle and senior high school for girls, a coeducational high school, and a coed university. The institution is affiliated with an ecumenical partner of the PC(USA), the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), a decades-long partnership in mission.
Would you and your church please consider joining in supporting me? I invite you to pray for the teaching ministry at Hokusei Gakuen University, to commit financially to my support there, and to subscribe to my quarterly Mission Connections letters. If you are able, I invite you to visit and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ in Japan.
I receive my salary from Hokusei Gakuen University. Maintaining an ecumenical connection to Presbyterian World Mission, however, costs about $13,000.00 annually. This consists of the cost of worker’s compensation and Presbyterian Board of Pensions medical insurance, pension, and death and disability benefits.
What can I offer your congregation? I have lived in Japan for my entire professional career, experiencing the same stresses and strains, successes and joys as anyone. I can share how my wife, Hideko, and I see God at work and hope for the future. I can share the hope I see in the students I teach, and the hope we experience as we fellowship with Japanese Christians, a minority in a culture that prides itself on homogeneity and conformity.
When Christians are connected at a global level, we have a chance to reach beyond our immediate horizons and experience a togetherness that can be had no other way: prayer, fellowship, mission trips, cyber-gathering, letter sharing, and visiting you when we are in the U.S. I would love to be a mission partner with your church. Greater spiritual health comes from setting prayers and offerings into action.
Ubi caritas, et amor, Deus ibi est.
Where caring and love are, God’s always there.
“LET’S” MEANS “DO TOGETHER”
The good news is that supporting is inclusive. When manna fell from heaven, those who had a lot had nothing left over while those who had little had no lack.
An individual gift to a loved one suggests a favorable alternative to giving a one-time thing: How about a service of God’s love in action for a full year?
Or, sharing a part of your order of worship? Imagine, for example, a litany translated and used during a mission awareness worship service or a call to worship.
How about a Skype meeting? Adult education, youth group, or a prayer during worship. If you can imagine it, then it probably can work.
These are just a few ideas of what can happen. What else can we imagine?
The old is gone.
It has been whooshed away.
Behold the new.
—II Corinthians 5:17
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