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Five things we’re learning about transitions in the ‘autumn’ of our ministry

After two years as part of the OMF Singapore team, Ian & Madeleine have now passed the baton to their successor in their ministry to East Asia. We are grateful to God for the opportunity to serve alongside them. Their cheerful disposition and wise leadership have been a blessing to us. Here they share how advice and prayer have helped them in the transition to the next phase of life.


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Where there are four seasons, we just have to look at the trees to know when one season is transiting into another season. The trees are beautiful in every season: Trees in winter may depict bareness, but they tell us there is hope to look forward to when green shoots sprout new life in spring. Summer blossoms are life in abundance. The changing colour of autumn leaves are most beautiful, but they indicate winter is coming.

In life, we have different seasons as well. There are many transitions, some planned and some, not. Transition always involves a change in direction and focus in our lives. For Madeleine and I, we are now transitioning to the autumn season. Are we prepared for it? We are not sure as we do not know how the future will unfold, but Joshua 1:9 encourages us that God will be with us wherever we go. All of us are pilgrims on a journey, and our Shepherd is guiding us through.

We have been asked how we are planning for our transition. Here are five ways we’re recognizing as we plan:

1) Transition needs to be undergirded by prayer

For every plan we make, we need to seek the will of God through prayer. Moving forward from the known and routine to the unknown and uncertainty can be worrying. In Philippians 4:6-7, we are told not to worry, but to bring all our concerns to God through prayer and petition with thanksgiving. And his peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May we remember the promise of God when we are tempted to worry about the days ahead.

2) Transition needs planning and is deliberate

The Lord put in our hearts more than a year ago that we should look for a successor for our ministry and move on, so we made known our intention to our leaders at the beginning of the year. We thank God for bringing a suitable successor. Transition is deliberate in that we prepare leaders and ourselves ahead of time.

3) Transition requires adjustment and patience

We have been advised by a more experienced and senior missionary not to rush into new ministries immediately after “retirement”, and to give ourselves at least six months to wait and hear from the Lord. As we transition to the next season, we need to exercise patience and wait expectantly to hear from the Master regarding our future direction.

4) Transition is a time of finding rest for our souls

All of us are very busy people. Busy with our studies when we were younger, busy with career, busy with family, busy with ministry, busy with personal lives. It is now a time for us to take a step back, reflect, and find rest for our souls. A time for our Healer to bring healing to our physical bodies, and healing for wounds and hurts suffered in our journey of life. The Lord will restore to us the years that the swarming locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

5) Transition is a time to reconnect

It is a time to reconnect with old friends, loved ones and supporters. In this new season, supporting one another and journeying together will provide significant encouragement and blessing to one another.

As we reflect on our time of transition, we thank God for giving us the opportunity to serve alongside his servants over the years in East Asia. There have been challenges as well as joy. As we journey and work
alongside fellow sojourners, the Lord has moulded us, stretched us, changed us, and widened our perspectives about life and eternity. It is a journey to be treasured.

We wish for our fellow pilgrims on the same journey joy, faith, trust and peace as we continue to sojourn on earth.

Will you pray for workers like Ian & Madeline?  

Pray for Ian and Madeleine as they make their transition and walk with God in this new stage of life.

Why not pray through the five areas Ian & Madeline highlight for missionaries in transition. If you know a missionary going through transition, do pray for them personally.


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