Welcome home! We are thrilled to have the Franks family back with us for the next four months to enjoy a well-deserved furlough. When Gareth and Keri departed for India some four years ago they were two, and by God’s grace they are now four! We look forward to spoiling Ezra and Eden!
Perhaps some have questions regarding the nature of a missionary furlough, so let me briefly touch on what a furlough is all about. Though the word “furlough” (lit., “leave of absence”) is not found in the Bible, the concept certainly is. Acts 14:24–28 records the return of Paul and Barnabas to their home (sending) church after their first missionary journey:
And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.
Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
What these missionaries did upon their return gives us a good template from which we can structure a fruitful furlough for our missionaries.
First, we see clearly that the missionaries returned to their local church. This is exactly what the Franks have done and we are thrilled to have them among us for their granted leave of absence. We have a mutual accountability to each other and we desire mutual edification during their return. But let’s flesh this out some more.
Second, a missionary’s return is for the purpose of reporting what God has done through them. We look forward to both our formal and informal time together to hear of what the Lord is doing in India. Gareth will have an opportunity to preach here, and we anticipate being blessed by his ministry. Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to interact with them to learn about their ministry and their lives in India. You will be greatly encouraged and motivated to pray for them.
Please note also that they also will be visiting various churches that have supported them and will report to them as well. Sadly, we have to share them with others!
Third, their return is for the purpose of relationships. On their furlough, they have the opportunity to reconnect with their blood family and with their church family. Just as Paul and Barnabas spent time, no doubt, building relationships over the “long time” that they were at Antioch, so the same will be true with the Franks family. We look forward to forging stronger ties with them and we know that their family will delight in this opportunity for deepening their love and appreciation for each other.
Fourth, and finally, furlough grants them the opportunity for their own “renewal.” They will enjoy the benefit of hearing preaching, of singing praise to God in their own tongue, and of worshipping God in more familiar ways. We trust that, by being with their church family, they will find themselves spiritually refreshed and their bodies rested.
Let us do all that we can to make sure that, when their furlough is finished, they will return to India with renewed vigour and an even stronger faith in God. May their furlough equip them for an even more fruitful ministry, of which, on a future furlough, they will again tell of “all that God had done with them.” And so, frankly speaking, may the Franks be blessed!