More pastors need to take their allotted sabbaticals.
While most pastors are due a regular period of rest and refreshment – the frequency and length of which is determined by their particular denomination – many in the United States don’t take it, despite record rates of pastoral burnout, poor clergy health, and pastors leaving the ministry. Whether it’s competitiveness, implicit pressure from denominational leadership to show evidence of productivity, or pride, ministers do well to remember the consistent example of Christ, who frequently withdrew for rest, contemplation and prayer.
If the Savior of the world needed it, Word Made Flesh, why would we think we’re better?
The EMMS – Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society – has devised a beautiful opportunity for pastors to take a needed sabbatical, get physical activity, and provide the world’s poorest people. What superintendent or Bishop can say no to that?
Founded in 1841, EMMS – sender of Dr. Livingstone (yes, that Dr. Livingstone, you may presume) is committed to their mission: “following the example of Jesus Christ, we work with partners in some of the poorest communities of the world to transform lives through compassionate, effective and sustainable healthcare.”
Now, their “Pedal and Pray” initiative engages clergy from around the world with the chance to take a sabbatical of a lifetime. Cycle with other pastors through Malawi for ten days this July and raise money for healthcare ministries in Malawi. Highlights will include opportunities to:
- See Malawi up close as you cycle through villages and by the lakeside on this 400 km challenge.
- Take part in daily reflections to help you explore God’s heart for the poor.
- Pray for the people you meet as you pedal an average of 80 km a day
- Cycle through rural villages to experience the real heart of Africa.
- Support local healthcare projects in rural Malawi and visit a life-saving healthcare project.
- Make new friends, enjoy fellowship and share an amazing experience
EMMS asks each participant to raise a minimum of £3,200 ($4,064) to help reduce the burden of HIV and help mothers in Malawi deliver their babies safely.
A recent article further explains, “Participants won’t only be stretched physically, they will also be stretched intellectually through an opportunity to reflect on the nature of mission, the changing face of global Christianity and the implications these have for their own ministry setting.
This is an exciting opportunity for ministers to experience church and mission in a new culture and then be able to critically evaluate the lessons they have learned for mission in post-Christendom [U.S.].
This learning aspect of the sabbatical will involve reading and discussing the ‘Global Church‘ before going to Malawi with fellow church leaders, experiencing church and mission in its African context and reflecting on the experience for participants and their churches personal settings back [at home].
This sabbatical experience, with its journey through an awe-inspiring part of God’s creation, as part of a community of fellow believers, immerses you in a new culture and exposure you to a different expression of Christian faith.
For many of those taking part in past bike rides with EMMS International, it has been more than a journey through an African country, it has been a road to spiritual renewal.”
Register here: http://www.emms.org/get-involved/join-an-event/pedalpray/
American participants are responsible for travel to Malawi and can arrange to meet the group there, to then participate in the planned agenda.
Renew your mind, body, and spirit, and engage with meaningful mission.