Serving God without leaving home

A few weeks before my family went to live overseas for the first time, I got a phone call. The caller was an older friend whom I respected.

“Ruth”, she said to me, “I know we talk a lot about Jim’s role. But I wanted to remind you that the reason your family can go overseas is because you are behind him. If he could not rely on you as his wife and mother of his kids, then there would not be the option to go.”

It was the first time I recognised my unique position to be used as a stay-at-home mum overseas. We were heading there with a baby and toddler in tow. Usually the anticipation focussed on my husband's role, whereas mine… not so much. Let's face it, being a stay-at-home mum is not glamorous.

It didn't get any more glamorous overseas. There were still sleepless nights, tantrums and dirty nappies (to be clear: Jim also dealt with all of these – I couldn’t have done it without him!). Besides that, it is tough for kids in a new culture. They needed me close by, especially at first when the street dogs were scary, their tummies were upset and they were still getting used to having their cheeks squeezed by strangers.

But in the Middle East, there is a lot more respect for mothers than I'd experienced in Australia. To locals, I was doing a legitimate role. It was beyond their imagination that I put my children to bed before 11pm at night, or hadn't toilet trained them by 12 months old. But walking the kids to school, shopping at the market and doing my own cooking did make sense to my local friends. And that helped as we built our relationships.

Being a stay-at-home mum also enabled me to use other gifts in flexible ways. Relationship building was part of our ministry within the Interserve team. We loved having visitors and we would often have people over to share meals together because I had the time for hospitality. In the frequently stressful times of a foreign land, this mutual encouragement strengthened and refreshed us all for our ministries elsewhere.

Interserve’s vision is transformed communities. Did I transform anything through my school drop-offs and nappies and pots of spaghetti bolognaise?

Maybe the question is not what did I transform, but what was God doing though me? Like a tapestry that is not yet finished, I can only see scraps of the pattern God was creating. I do know my role contributed to helping us thrive as a family in the country. I had a part in enabling my husband to do the role God had for him. It also allowed me to pour time into building relationships with other cross-cultural workers, to support them in fulfilling their own God-given purposes. It gave me time to see the opportunities, and as the kids got older, to find my niche outside the home too.

I am no hero of the faith, but I trust God used me as a stay-at-home mum. He placed me there, made me the person I am, and gave me my role for that time.

The rest is His story.

Ruth served with her family in the Middle East for six years.
All names have been changed.

Refugee Worker

West Asia / Other / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years, Consultant / Job ID: 1374

The church in this city is responding in love to the flood of refugees coming from Syria Iraq Afghanistan and Iran. Refugee ministry is a team effort using a community center and home visits seeking to minister wholistically to the needs of these people in Jesus name.

Refugee ministry is available for those willing to come and serve at least 6 months. People of all nationalities and ages can help in this work. There is a lot of people contact so being outgoing and friendly and open to cross-cultural friendships is important. By touching in Jesus name the lives of those devastated by war or persecution you can help them come to know Him and His healing and transformation. Volunteers can help in significant ways whether short- or long-term through language help art sports music drama administration technical support home repair skills visitation listening prayer etc. Knowing Arabic Farsi or Dari is a plus but not required.

We need caring people with a servant heart. You need a love for people a desire to share Christ in word and deed and a solid spiritual life depending on God You need to be flexible adapting to a dynamic work environment and changing refugee needs and profiles. We want to start new ministries to refugees so an initiator or leader-type would be a plus. You should be a team-worker with good people skills and be willing to learn the language and culture of the refugees you will serve.

ESL Conversation group leader

West Asia / Other / 1-11 months / Job ID: 1602

The international church is a typical capital-city congregation of expats but with Korean Farsi and Turkish congregations in addition to the English one. Elder-led the church is broad evangelical and community oriented. It has existed for nearly 30 years with a strong focus on refugee work strengthening the national churches and cooperation and unity among Christians.

The English Conversation clubs are a new outreach of the church and provide a natural way for social encounters shared experience telling ones story and building friendships with locals. Members participate with folks from the community but leaders are needed with confidence in leading groups and experience helping non-English speakers learn and improve. A TEFL certificate is helpful but not required. Currently the program runs 2 evenings per week

This role is for a person with a heart for integrating their skills in teaching English and personal relationships with a calling to spread the Good News. The ideal person for this role will have good personal skills be able to lead groups and be able to understand others (especially the language challenges of non-English speakers) and create a positive atmosphere with good group dynamics and engaging conversation topics. An ability to work cross-culturally with other expats and with local citizens creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics. As group leader he/she must plan the activities and be able to respond when help is needed (vocabulary grammar pronunciation etc).

Archaeologist

Central Asia / Other / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1510

An archaeological research organisation

The job involves working in local archaeological projects.

The applicant should have relevant experience and qualifications.

English speaker

West Asia / Other / 1-11 months / Job ID: 1375

Those in cross-cultural service need English to communicate well within their organization and beyond. Yet some from new sending countries have only minimal English and feel handicapped by this. They desire to improve through conversational English and daily practice but need a native speaker to come and work with them and their children.

You would work directly with these partners on English language skills with emphasis on speaking and listening and vocabulary building run conversational English groups personal times with each adult play learning for the children (songs games etc). It involves doing life in English each day together sharing not just language but friendship and partnership in the work.

A person is needed who can embed within the team and help these workers (and their kids) practise and improve their English. Patience creativity people-awareness sensitivity to other cultures and a servant heart are all needed.

Counsellor

West Asia / Other / 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 561

This ministry was started by some of our partners in 2014 to address the long-term impact of childhood abuse which is rampant in the local and refugee communities. This is a non-official group including a few licensed counsellors.

There is need among the expatriate national and refugee communities for counsellors. This country has a high attrition rate among its expatriate workers and counsellors can help stem the flow. There are also enormous needs in the local community which could be addressed by a qualified counsellor. This job could be done through the local or international church or independently.

We are looking for a short-term licensed counsellor who can help with English-speaking expats and nationals or a long-term counsellor who can learn the language and get involved at a deeper level.

Librarian

West Asia / Other / 1-11 months / Job ID: 1554

The aims of this organization are to make the Bible available in a language people can understand and at a price they can afford. They continue to work on Bible translations for all of the people groups in this nation to have Gods word in their own language. Their translation policy ensures translation guidelines acceptable to the Catholic Protestant and Orthodox Churches.

A librarian (or library science student) with skills in cataloging is needed to set up a library system for the national organization for its many Bibles and books in multiple languages collected over the last 200 years. In the collection are many rare and first edition books of historical significance. This person should be able to design and implement a cataloging system for current and future books and set up the library.

A person with a heart for integrating their skills in library cataloging and organization with a calling to spread the Good News. A willingness to work cross-culturally with the Director who is a local citizen and believer. Creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics for this person.

Grant Writer

South Asia / Other / 2+ years / Job ID: 1033

This organisation strives to help all nationals women and men achieve a fuller and more satisfying life. There are many opportunities for expatriates from different countries to contribute their professional skills.

To play a key role in advising providing hands-on technical support to and building capacity of one or more Cluster Teams in developing high quality competitive project grants/proposals in line with the organisations strategy

We welcome inquiries from expatriates interested in serving in this country with our organisation even if their background does not fit exactly into one of the posts mentioned.

Volunteers for Asylum work

Arab World / Other / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1188

We are a group of volunteers who assist refugees with asylum / resettlement procedures. We assist refugees free of charge with filling in their forms for resettlement. We are also involved in assisting a foreign Embassy in the first stage of resettling women survivors of abduction.

We need volunteers to help us with Asylum Procedures starting with interviewing Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The information gathered is then typed into forms and submitted to the relevant Embassy or sponsors in the country of resettlement.

Anyone who can work in a team has a compassion for refugees and is willing to do a lot of paper work. The person needs to be able to get a comprehensive story from the refugee and write up these stories for the application form.

Safety Security Advisor

Central Asia / Other / 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1484

A faith-based NGO working in an insecure environment impacts communities in areas of health economy and social empowerment.

The appointee will advise on overall safety and security management for the organisation provide training and oversight for the local security manager monitor and interpret the current security situation liaise with other relevant security entities and assist in critical incident management.

You will need experience in security management experience living in an unstable security environment and a collaborative attitude and good relational skills. You will need to be calm in a crisis to be a good communicator and team player and be willing to learn language and culture of the host country.