At any point, a few of our missionaries are usually absent from Japan because they are ‘taking a furlough’ back in their home country. What does this involve for them? This article explores the benefits through relating what my husband and I have been doing recently, back in the UK! (December, 2010)
My then-fiancé and I took a furlough from last year. During this time in our home country we have got married, completed a further year at mission training college together, and are awaiting the birth of our first baby! However fitting such big life events into a furlough is rather unusual. Normally WEC UK (our sending base) encourage a four-fold approach to a break from the field:
a. Time to relax & rest (we were told some people do not need any encouragement, but others need to be forced to put their feet up!),
b. Time to strengthen links with sending & supporting churches.
c. Time to do deputation (visiting other churches and groups)
d. Time to do some form of study or training.
Our year at Redcliffe College, centre for mission training, has enabled us both to further our missional thinking, helped us develop personally, and also given us contact with others working in similar fields for different organizations. Since finishing our courses in August, we are currently teaching there before we return to Japan! We have also been visiting our supporting churches - sometimes preaching, leading house groups, or doing presentations on Japan.
Our involvement in the UK’s south-west WEC region saw us focusing on youth during our four months before college started, and more recently visiting the various small prayer groups (largely of retired folk) to give them prayer information for Japan and for us.
And finally….rest! During the time back in Europe we even visited Finland, and met Santa Claus!
We trust that our furlough will prove a solid building block to our return to Japan.