Grit to Stay Grace to Go: Staying Well in Cross-Cultural Ministry, by Sue Eenigenburg and Eva Burkholder, Littleton, CO: William Carey Press, 2023.
It has been nearly 3 decades since my husband and I left the Asian country where we worked cross-culturally to return to the United States to serve with the same agency. Before we left, I remember sitting at our dining room table wringing my hands as we shared our decision with our in-country colleagues.
Churches and agencies invest a lot of time and money preparing cross-cultural workers, yet the workers themselves sometimes flounder on the field or leave before their senders expect. Authors Sue Eenigenburg and Eva Burkholder, global workers with decades of experience, have written this comprehensive workbook for these global messengers. Grit to Stay Grace to Go encourages workers to cultivate perseverance in the face of challenges, say healthy goodbyes to others who leave, and process their own decisions to someday leave their fields of service.
In a recent podcast, Sue spoke of the ideal of staying well and not leaving prematurely.* At a time when 47 per cent of global workers leave before five years in their field of service and 70-80 per cent leave by year eight when they are becoming the most fruitful,** this book equips workers to serve God with grit and grace. The authors include their own thoughts and experiences, thoughtful questions to work though, relevant Bible passages to consider, and many online resources to explore.
When my husband and I communicated our intent to leave our country of service after twelve years as cross-cultural workers, I felt stress because I wrestled with being a people-pleaser and feared the judgement of others. This handbook would have helped me weigh and process our decision in a healthier way, with a desire to serve God and include teammates and others in the decision earlier in the process.
I consider this volume a “must-have” for every global worker, but it is also an important read for missions pastors and committees. This workbook gives them a better understanding of their global messengers’ challenges and how best to encourage them to, as Eva and Sue write in their concluding chapter, neither leave too soon nor stay too long.***
**Eenigenburg, Sue and Eva Burkholder, Grit to Stay Grace to Go, p. 2, referring to Stephens, “Webinar: Field Onboarding and Retention.”
***Eenigenburg, Sue and Eva Burkholder, Grit to Stay Grace to Go, p. 202.