“This has been one of the best gifts ever given to me. Through Rendezvous Plus, God refreshed and encouraged me in the middle of one of the hardest years of my life,” wrote Joy Fosnaugh, a Nazarene missionary kid fresh out of Rendezvous Plus, an intense re-entry training that was held at the Nazarene Golden Bell campground in Colorado earlier this month.
Rendezvous Plus is part of a new global strategy to prepare missionary kids (MKs) who are reaching adulthood and transitioning away from their support systems in the lands where they and their families have been serving as missionaries.
The idea of this intensive re-entry training goes back eight years, when the Asia-Pacific Region developed a week-long event it called Rendezvous as a way to support its MKs, who were graduating from high school and moving to their passport country for the first time as adults on their own. Asia-Pacific hosts Rendezvous every two years.
Nazarene Global Mission is bringing Rendezvous to each of the denomination’s other world regions outside the U.S. and Canada next year, where they will also be held every other year.
The Mesoamerica and South America regions will co-host their first Rendezvous training in January 2016 and Africa region is looking to plan their first Rendezvous late in 2015 or early 2016. Eurasia region will be joining the Asia-Pacific region for its fifth event in January 2015, according to Natalie Ward, who is coordinating the global effort.
Meanwhile, the Rendezvous leadership team also established Rendezvous Plus, which Fosnaugh attended, to take place annually during the summer in the U.S., as an extension of the regional events, to continue supporting young people who are already undergoing the transition process.
Rendezvous is a French word meaning “to meet together at an appointed place and time for a specific purpose.” The vision of Rendezvous is to meet with God and together equip these amazing transcultural individuals, as they navigate this life-changing journey.
“They are leaving their support system and structure and many times they’re leaving that forever,” said Sarah LeBaron, who was an MK in Papua New Guinea and now lives in Idaho with her family. LeBaron serves on a leadership team for Rendezvous events. “For any young person making that transition into adult life, you still go home for Christmas or for the summer, for special occasions and you might even move back to your hometown. Most MKs may not have that opportunity.”
The vision of the Rendezvous team is to lead these who have had the privilege of living transculturally through learning and discovery about the various dimensions of a healthy transition. This includes learning about healthy grief as they’re dealing with the loss of what has become home to them, a lost way of life, and lost relationships. Rendezvous teaches them that they can and should ask for help from their new support system rather than trying to be self-sufficient. It helps them think about intentionally finding new mentors and healthy, supportive relationships in their new environment.
Rendezvous also provides personal development and practical tools, ranging from job interviews to how to write checks, manage a bank account and other financial matters. The Rendezvous team also passes on the truth that growing up learning multiple cultures has given them strengths and tools that can help them through the rest of their life. Most of all, the Rendezvous team teaches that a believer’s primary identity and belonging comes not from one’s culture or geography but first and foremost from Christ. That identity can be lived out in any culture.
“We design the event to include the positive discovery of some tools and qualities that come so naturally to them, that they may not realize they have them to use in their transition,” said Ward.
“I learned so much about myself through the StrengthFinders workshop,” said Jessica Myers, an MK from Papua New Guinea who now lives in the U.S. “I saw and realized new things in myself which has helped me know how I deal with the world around me so that when I was on my own this past year, I knew how to successfully maneuver difficult and new situations.”
Amanda Johnson, who grew up in Madagascar and Kenya, wrote at length about how God touched her through this month’s Rendezvous Plus. Her sentiments have been echoed by dozens of missionary kids who have had the privilege of attending Rendezvous, according to LeBaron.
Rendezvous Plus was, for me, a life changer. The weekend that we spent at Golden Bell Camp changed me so much, and gave me such a different perspective on life around me; where I had once felt that I was completely alone in my struggles and feelings of loneliness, a new feeling of community and understanding began to grow. I was able to create new friendships, and further develop those that I had already established.
Before I went to Rendezvous Plus, I had felt very distant from God, and I felt as if my prayers weren't going past the ceiling. After Rendezvous Plus, however, I felt that God was close to me, and was once again directing me in the way that I should be going. I believe that this is in part because of what Rendezvous Plus taught me about the grieving process that we as MKs must go through when it is our time to leave the country and culture that we have made our own. It taught me not to find my identity in people and places, but in Christ, for people and places will leave us, but God is with us forever. Rendezvous Plus changed me, and I am so thankful for the leaders who loved each and everyone of us and cared so much for our personal and spiritual lives. My only regret is that Rendezvous comes only once a year, but I know that I have a new community who will be there in prayer until I see them again.
Rendezvous is meeting a specific, deep need in the lives of missionary kids and families. It is enabling young people to transition into the new chapters of their lives with confidence, encouraing them to develop life skills and stay grounded in their faith, Ward said.
If you would like to be involved through prayer, or would like to know more about Rendezvous please contact Rendezvous@nazarene.org