“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
Every two years, the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) invites all our missionaries and their families to our Missionaries’ Retreat, normally held in a hotel in West Malaysia. With COVID-19 travel restrictions travel, we had to leverage on technology to continue to have our 2020 Retreat, albeit in the virtual realm.
There were challenges in bringing 57 participants—our missionaries from our seven mission fields and our home staff—together in a virtual environment, as well deciding on a timing of the retreat that worked for everyone. But none of these challenges deterred us from having our first virtual Missionaries’ Retreat from 25 to 26 Sep 2020. We believe in the faithfulness of God and His promises, that all things will become good when we focus on His plans, and not ours.
After much deliberation, our team and our personnel committee (PC) established our theme for this retreat: “Refresh, Engage, Share, Touch”. The retreat’s objective was to uplift our missionaries spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. In these challenging times, it is imperative that we care for the holistic well-being of our missionaries and their families.
To achieve this, the planned programme included sharing by our guest speaker Mr Daniel Wong, the Minister-at-Large of OMF, on the topics of missionary self-care in areas including re-entry, engagement, strengthening relationships and transformation. Retreat participants were then provided with updates on the proposed amendments to the personnel policy for missionaries. These sessions were discussed in breakout sessions, facilitated by MMS leadership and PC members. Mr Alvin Tan, Chairman of MMS, shared about MMS Strategic Overview and Col (Ret) Quek Koh Eng, MMS Field and Church Engagement Director, shared on Post COVID-19 Relevancy—the Implications of COVID-19.1
It was not all serious work as our missionaries had a great and fun time with specially-chosen online games. They also had virtual meals together with their breakout group members. A segment on our missionary kids was also part of the programme. Fellowshipping and engaging our Home staff and PC members were also well-received.
To end the retreat, we had a Closing and Affirmation Service to affirm our Timor-Leste missionary, Rasanya Gnasegaran, as an MMS missionary as she had completed her internship. Throughout the two days, we were privileged to have Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung, Bishop-Elect Dr Gordon Wong, the President of the Chinese Annual Conference, the Rev Dr Gregory Goh Nai Lat, and the President of the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference, the Rev James Nagulan, to encourage, inspire and pray for our missionaries and mission fields.
This has been a momentous retreat—the first time one to be conducted in a virtual environment. The theme and objectives set were met in a wonderful and exuberant atmosphere. The organising task force has been blessed by the success of the retreat, and we give thanks to our Almighty God for the privilege to serve not just our missionaries, but also our Lord. We have been humbled by His faithfulness.
1 An abridged version of Col (Ret) Quek’s sharing can be found on page 6.
Grace Chung serves as MMS Church Engagement Manager. She chaired the Task Force that planned and conducted the Virtual Missionaries’ Retreat 2020. / Photo courtesy of MMS