Making a way: the Red Sea Centre
By Deb Fox | Wycliffe Today Autumn 2021|
Exodus 14:1–31 is an example of God’s redeeming love in action. He made a way for his people through the Red Sea, from captivity to deliverance, from despair to hope. Mark and Lorene van Rossen hope to offer a similar place of refuge and care to cross-cultural mission workers. The unique counselling centre they are developing is being designed to deliver people from a place of brokenness to one of healing: the Red Sea Counselling and Member Care Centre.
The van Rossens have spent over 20 years in various roles with Wycliffe in Australia and SIL in Papua New Guinea. Lorene says this new counselling project has developed from ‘a career-long exposure to the need for good member care’, particularly culminating from their last year on the field in PNG. She says:
We often forget about the struggles that accompany long-term cross-cultural work. It can take a huge mental and emotional toll on the entire family. Our most recent term in Ukarumpa [Papua New Guinea] at the beginning of 2019 was as the Staff Care Managers for SIL-PNG. It was horrible seeing so many people suffering from many different crises.
We’ve seen so many mission workers from a range of different organisations pack up and leave and never come back. All of the training they’ve gone through, the supporters they’ve built up and time they’ve spent on the field just falls in a heap. The thing is, so many of these issues are preventable.
Around 11 years ago, an SIL counsellor tried to get a similar counselling centre established but unfortunately there was not enough traction to keep moving forward with it.
Mark says there was great need for it back then and there is an even more critical need for it now:
The high attrition rate amongst missionaries in this part of the world cannot continue. We need to do something about it and we need to do it now. We have prayed continuously that God would provide a way for it to come to fruition.
Mark explains that the Centre needs to be a place without connections to any particular organisation, sending agency or denomination:
This is a totally independent venture so that people from all different backgrounds and mission organisations feel safe sharing their experiences. This is a felt need from a vast number of mission agencies. It will be a shot in the arm for all mission organisations to offer a service for people who have left the field to get help and get back into the ministry God has called them to do.
Mark and Lorene recently moved to Cairns to begin working through the legal and financial requirements with the Board and Co-founder, Dr Roger van der Veen, for the initial stages of setting up the Centre.
When we first started out with the Red Sea Centre, we thought, ‘How on earth are we going to do any of this?’ But God has provided everything we have needed. He is nothing but faithful. We hope to provide a facility that will provide much needed clinical, professional, psychological and spiritual help to support our fellow mission workers. We want to help them become more resilient and find the tools they need to live strong and healthy lives. We want them to not just survive but thrive; to continue their ministry to the people they were called to serve.
To find out more or to support the van Rossens, go to https://wycliffe.org.au/member/mark-lorene/ and discover how God used Mark’s dog training skills to open doors for Bible translation!