Last week, we had an experience we will not soon forget. We went to the Lisbon Missionary Retreat. It was amazing.
This retreat was hosted by Dallas Bay Baptist Church in Tennessee and the Christian Hospitality Network. They understand the burnout that many ministry workers face. Their philosophy is that by investing in the missionaries and refreshing them, they are, in effect, investing in all the people those missionaries reach. Almost 200 missionaries (mostly from Europe) gathered for this three-day retreat at a hotel just outside of Lisbon. When we received the invitation to attend, we didn’t know what to expect. All we knew for sure was that it was free for us and just 30 minutes from our house, and we could make a family vacation out of it. It didn’t take long for our expectations to be exceeded.
From the moment we pulled into the parking lot and three men from Chattanooga came to help us carry our luggage, we knew it was going to be a great time. Once we got inside the hotel a kind lady told us that they would be providing babysitting for much of the time while we were there. This was a huge deal for us. Here is what else we experienced:
We stayed in a beautiful hotel suite that had plenty of room for our whole family.
We ate delicious meals in the hotel restaurant.
Sarah and I went out to eat by ourselves, because there were people to babysit Laura and Samuel. This was probably the highlight of our time.
Laura loved playing in the pool.
Sarah enjoyed a hand massage.
We all received thoughtful gifts and letters from home.
Each evening, we enjoyed singing and preaching in English.
A chiropractor cracked us back into line.
There was even a physician who came to answer our health questions and give check-ups.
In short, we were shown amazing kindness and generosity far beyond what we could ever deserve.
But even better than the room or the food was the fact that over 30 people that we had never met before came from this church just to care for us and minister to us. They spent a week of their lives baby-sitting missionary kids, carrying our luggage, giving massages and haircuts, asking us about our lives, praying with us about our struggles, and doing a hundred other things that blessed us.
What did all of this do for us? For one, we were able to rest and get away from our daily routine. We needed that badly. Secondly, receiving such lavish kindness and love encourages us to show the same to the people to whom we minister. Just as Jesus got away from the crowds once in a while, this retreat recharged us and has helped us minister with more strength and focus this week. Thank you, CHN and DBBC, for the “cup of cold water in Jesus’ name”.