Free Refills... Pastor Beyond offers Spiritual Refreshment
By Susan Van Wynen, SIL-Brazil
Most of us have many sources of ‘free refills’ when we need spiritual refreshment. Media & ministers abound—here. But what about missionary personnel living in other cultures... other language groups? Missionaries of course have GOD’S Word, and, where possible, they do seek local churches & fellowship... But they often lack pastoral care, someone who can minister to them. “I’ve always had a pastor who was an important part of my life. It never crossed my mind that I’d have no pastor in Columbia.” Wycliffe member
In 1975, Wycliffe founder, Cameron Townsend, expressed the need for pastoral care on the field. Inresponse Wycliffe USA created Pastors Beyond under the leadership of Ken Williams & Orval Butcher. Orval & his wife, Gwen, were the first to serve with Pastors Beyond. They were soon joined by Cliff & Carole Stabler, the first couple to serve Pastors Beyond full time.
The Stablers had reached a point in their ministry where they were asking, "What do you want us to do next, LORD?" They prayed independently, & GOD spoke to both of them about pastoring missionaries in the field."After that the Lord just fast-tracked us”, Cliff recalls.
Before long 8 other couples had joined Pastors Beyond by 2002. Each couple takes ministry assignments during the year of 2 weeks to around 3 months depending upon the needs of the inviting missionary team. Each pastor-wife couple raises their own support and prayer team and pay for all of their own living and ministering expenses on their trips. PB couples come from a variety of denominational backgrounds and all have at least 10-15 years of pastoral experience plus cross-cultural experience.
Pastors Beyond couples have ministered to Wycliffe and other missionaries in Brazil, Eurasia, Columbia, Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Chad, Peru, Kenya, The Solomon Islands & elsewhere. They offer preaching, teaching, Bible Studies, retreats, spiritual emphasis weeks, and pastoral counseling. Pastors Beyond couples spend time in missionaries’ homes with no agenda but to minister and listen, listen, listen. Some of the best of pastoral ministry takes place away from the podium. On the field one can find Pastors Beyond couples talking & laughing alongside missionary colleagues, even babysitting and other acts of service of all kinds. “We were getting ready to move. The Stablers were booked every night of the month, but when an opening occurred, Cliff spent the evening with our kids, read stories to them & put them to bed. Carole came over, roller up her sleeves & cleaned my cupboards & refrigerator. She did a log of packing for me. They’re busy people---busy loving!”
"Missionaries are very easy to care about... they’re committed, focused, and resourceful. They have a sense of humor. They’re investing in lives. They achievement oriented, teachable, and truly expect GOD to do something", says Cliff.
GOD is doing something special through Pastors Beyond! Missionaries from all over the world acknowledge how much they value this ministry and expression of love in action!
“The lack of pastoral care & teaching for me in Togo has made me aware of my need for it. It was a blessing and a relief just to take in and let wash over me the teaching and refreshing!”
From David Lackey, former Devotional Committee Chairman, Colombia—“Many shared with me that they experienced significant spiritual growth through the ministry of Pastors Beyond... I feel that having a pastor-wife couple come to the field is crucial to the ultimate success of our work!”
From Africa—“I was encouraged to see the gentle way the HOLY SPIRIT works, to see that GOD has so much love & wisdom. He does answer our prayers! The timing of your visit was good because the LORD was able to do something as never before.”
From E. Africa, 2013— “What happens when you retire from Pastors Beyond? WHO will be coming after you...?!” – Haunting Question to Marty & Susan from a missionary serving near Lake Victoria The international ministry of Pastors Beyond radiates the presence of GOD’S love. And there are always free refills!
Updated & Edited by Marty Larsen, Current Dir., Pastors Beyond