Back in the USA
On the last day of January, in the middle of a dark snowstorm, we said farewell to our life and work of nearly 30 years in Turkey and flew to Los Angeles:
On the last day of January, in the middle of a dark snowstorm, we said farewell to our life and work of nearly 30 years in Turkey and flew to Los Angeles: 14 hours non-stop, on Turkish Airlines. We arrived having downsized to four suitcases and a shipment of some personal effects. Our friend, Eleanor, picked us up and drove us to our new home in Pilgrim Place, a wonderful retirement community of religious workers in Claremont, California. If you would like our current mailing address, please contact Global Ministries.
This spring we’ve been speaking in congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ about our work in Turkey and about the common Global Ministries program of these two denominations. The Connecticut Conference of the UCC hosted us in about 15 churches in the month of May alone. We’ve also spoken to churches in southern California and will appear in various Disciples congregations in northern California in July.
In the congregations where we’ve made presentations, we’ve encountered large numbers of well-travelled, informed, and globally concerned church members. Several people are looking into becoming a “Global Missions church”.* whether your congregation participates formally in that program or not, it’s worth looking at its recommendations for building greater global awareness and involvement through your denomination. There are actions that will give expression to your members’ desires, and especially the desires of your younger members, to do something with their lives about the world and its needs.
We are particularly attracted to the Global Missions Intern program of our denominations. It challenges young adults who are perhaps just out of college and looking for significant life experiences of one to three years abroad.** We’ve seen how the interns’ lives, faith, and perspectives expand as a result of a service experience with one of Global Ministries’ international partners. In exchange for a small stipend, the intern might be living among Palestinians struggling with Israel’s occupation of their territory. Or accompanying human rights workers in a Latin American country. Or teaching music with a church in Sri Lanka. It’s an investment for the future leadership of our churches to encourage our younger members to consider this program.
As always, we have to contend with the ugly cultural stereotype of “missionary” as a discredited figure who aggressively pushes those in other cultures and countries to adopt a Christian identity and beliefs. We can speak only for ourselves, but we’re sure that no missionary accepts this stereotype. In Turkey we’ve been involved in a type of mission that respects other cultures and traditions and tries to learn the best from them. We try to apply the Golden Rule of Interfaith Relations: theologize about others as you would have them theologize about you (taken from Wilfred Cantwell Smith). It’s not easy, but it typifies the kind of thing you’ll find in the work of Global Ministries personnel. Around the world, they’re doing things and developing relationships of which our denominations can be proud. As your congregation becomes a Global Missions Church, or as it sends its young adults abroad as Global Missions Interns, you too will expand your appreciation of and support for what international Christian mission and service mean in our denominations.
We retire this summer from almost 40 years of working abroad in mission for our church. We retire from a global mission movement in our denominations that, as was also true before us, is forward-looking, nurturing of international partnerships and relationships, and ever sensitive to hear the word of the still-speaking God.
Our new home in Pilgrim Place is half of a duplex that sits on one of the shady, tree-lined avenues of Claremont. Ken’s parents and Betty’s sister live in nearby Orange County, so that we can see each other regularly. Our children are farther away: daughter Irene lives with her husband, David, in Denton, Texas, while son Ian is entering the final year of his doctoral program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meanwhile we’re slowly growing into our new home as we find furniture and discover new friends. Please know that we have room for you as visitors!
Betty & Ken Frank
Ken & Betty Frank served with the American Board in Istanbul, Turkey. They shared the job of General Secretary of the American Board. They also served on the board of the Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program (IIMP).