Almost all of today’s current and future missionaries are members of three generational groupings of American culture — Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. As we seek to serve and care for them, our efforts will be truly helpful if we can take into account how they see the world and how they experience life. The 2023 edition of the Midwest Conference on Missionary Care (MC2) will address how to engage, empower and encourage today’s missionary generations. We’ll further focus on how communication, connection, commissioning, coaching, caring, challenging, and conflict are uniquely experienced by those currently serving in cross-cultural Christian ministry.
2023 Featured Speakers
Bio: Dr. Janeen Davis
Janeen Davis, PsyD, MFT, served overseas with a large missions organization since 2007, where she lived in three different countries in Asia and supervised a member care team that supported over 1,000 frontline personnel. In 2021, she founded Purpose & Peace Solutions and moved to Tennessee, where she maintains virtual counseling services for global missionaries and stateside individuals, while also serving as the Director of Counseling for a local church.
Janeen is the master trainer and practitioner for Peace Pursuit International and provides advanced training and consulting for local and international ministries who desire to improve in biblical conflict resolution, healthy teaming practices, and effective member care support.
Bio: Dr. Jolene Erlacher
Dr. Jolene Erlacher founded Leading Tomorrow in 2014 with the aim of equipping churches, businesses, schools, missions agencies and other organizations for effective intergenerational leadership in an evolving culture. Her passion for equipping a new generation of leaders emerged from her own leadership experiences in education and ministry. Jolene’s books include Millennials in Ministry (2014), Daniel Generation: Godly Leadership in an Ungodly Culture
(2018), and Mobilizing Gen Z for Missions (2022.) She specializes in providing training to community organizations, government agencies, churches, missions agencies and small businesses. Jolene lives in North Carolina with her husband and twin daughters.
Bio: Dan Germo
After 15 years serving as a missionary in Kenya, Dan returned to the US to lead Bethany Gateways for eight years, overseeing more than 100 Bethany missionaries fielded around the world and focusing on field effectiveness, leadership development and recruitment. Dan has recently taken a new role overseeing leadership development and discipleship training across Bethany’s fields. Dan and his wife, Nancy, were classmates at BGU and have three children.
Bio: Jesse Johannesen
Jesse has served at River Valley Church since 2014. In his role as global project associate pastor, he looks after the day-to-day missions efforts of River Valley Church, including mobilization, partnership and short-term teams. He originally hails from Iowa and along with his wife, Renee, has three children at home. Their family calling is to equip the local church to engage in and support missions with their whole heart.
2023 Main Sessions
Plenary #1: Connecting – Circa 2023 – Dr. Jolene Erlacher
How do people communicate today, and what tools do we use? What does it mean to be connected to an individual or an institution, and what is the pathway to get there? What shifts must we make to find a healthy place of multigenerational connection? Caring can’t happen without connection, so these questions should weigh heavy for us.
Plenary #2: A Clash of Convictions: Conflict Between Christians – Dr. Janeen Davis
The distinct expectations, social norms and priorities associated with generational groups of missionaries can contribute to us versus them divisions, feelings of being misunderstood, accusations of sin, and claims of harmful leadership practices. Dr. Davis will discuss individualized and patterned factors that foster conflict on the field and important considerations to help sending churches respond effectively.
Plenary #3: The Power of Coaching for Empowering and Encouraging Today’s Missionaries – Dr. Jolene Erlacher
Giving individual attention to missionaries in their growth, planning and implementation processes is becoming a core service that churches and missions organizations provide to their missionaries. How important is this? How can you become involved if you are not already?
Plenary #4: Challenging Today’s Church Members to Involvement in Missions – Discussion with Dan Germo, Jesse Johannesen, and guests: Facilitated by Mark Morgenstern
What does it look like today as churches and missionary organizations challenge future missionaries to step up and serve? What are the messages that make sense and work? Are there some messages that work but are not healthy? When and where does the process of missionary mobilization begin, and what part does the church play?
Plenary #5: The Promise and Potential in Commissioning – Dr. Janeen Davis
What does it mean to be sent out by a church, and what is the nature of that relationship before, during and after the sending? Today’s cross-cultural workers may have different expectations than those who commission them to serve on the mission field. Dr. Davis will highlight ways to deepen the significance of commissioning in order to engage and encourage missionaries for a lasting partnership
Understanding, Equipping and Mobilizing Gen Z – Dr. Jolene Erlacher, Leading Tomorrow
Anxious, addicted to technology, and lacking in interpersonal skills are a few of the descriptors used to describe youth and young adults today. Generation Z (b. 1996-2010) is also incredibly creative, pragmatic and diverse. This session will provide practical strategies for mobilizing the next generation and equipping them to thrive in ministry.
Dr. Jolene Erlacher founded Leading Tomorrow in 2014 with the aim of equipping churches, businesses, schools, missions agencies and other organizations for effective intergenerational leadership in an evolving culture. Her passion for equipping a new generation of leaders emerged from her own leadership experiences in education and ministry. Jolene’s books include Millennials in Ministry (2014), Daniel Generation: Godly Leadership in an Ungodly Culture (2018), and Mobilizing Gen Z for Missions (2022.) She specializes in providing training to community organizations, government agencies, churches, missions agencies and small businesses. Jolene lives in North Carolina with her husband and twin daughters.
Missional Resilience – Geoff Whiteman, Valeo Research Institute
This workshop was developed specifically to bridge the gap from sound knowledge based on stories of nearly 900 global workers to best practice for experienced member-care workers (from organizations and sending churches), global workers in Christ, and field leaders. Participants will be introduced to the Missional Resilience Framework and three pathways that can equip this generation to persevere with joy. Expect the workshop to be interactive, with
personal and professional applications.
Geoff is passionate about helping people and communities connect their life’s purpose with God’s work in the world. Geoff serves as the research institute director. He volunteers as the People Care and Development Track co-leader for Missio Nexus and is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Kentucky. Geoff spent some of his formative years as a TCK in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and Singapore. He and his wife, Kriss, have been engaged
in vocational service since 2000, and supporting the care and training of those in cross-cultural work since 2007. Geoff strives to serve others in ways that call forth the inherent goodness that may have become tarnished under the stressors and strains of life – to equip and empower global workers and the people and systems who care for them, to be resilient in their life and work according to the will and for the glory of God.
Sabbath Rest – Mike Gaston, Converge International Ministries
When Jesus said “Come to Me… and I will give you rest,” did He intend to include missionaries in that offer? And if so, what might that look like, and what difference might it make in their lives and ministries? How can churches and agency leaders encourage their missionaries to incorporate regular Sabbath rest into their lives? This workshop will address all of those questions and more, using the definition of Sabbath as “regular, intentional, contemplative, Christ-centered rest.” God’s plan for the rhythms of work and rest can address many of the felt
needs of the missionaries, revitalize their spiritual lives, and avoid some of the pitfalls of cross-cultural ministry that can result in burnout and attrition. Sabbath rest is a gift that we would do well to accept and enjoy! (Member Care 101 workshop)
Mike with his wife, Murf, served with Converge International Ministries (the Baptist General Conference Board of World Missions) for 15 years. They returned stateside in 2001 for Mike to serve as the missions pastor at a church in California. In 2015, they moved to serve a church in Arizona, where they live today. He has been a diligent pursuer of Sabbath rest for over 10 years. He began volunteering on the member care team for Converge in 2017, and has been Converge’s director of member care since 2021. Mike and Murf also have a ministry that includes a respite apartment in their home (the Selah Suite), where missionaries and other workers can stay free of charge for a period of rest and refreshment. Mike blogs about sabbath and other topics.
The Essential Support Team: Caring for Missionaries Through Each Stage of Ministry – Heidi Tunberg, ReachGlobal
Effective support for your church’s missionaries involves a lot more than sending them money each month. In this session, we will consider the non-financial needs missionaries have at various stages of ministry. We will also discuss practical ways churches can walk alongside them, from pre-field preparations through re-entry to the U.S., and every stage in between.
Heidi Tunberg spent her childhood in Malaysia and Singapore where her parents were missionaries with the Evangelical Free Church. She is a licensed psychologist who spent seven years in private practice, but her love of missionary kids (MKs) prompted her to move into caring for them full time. Since 1999, Heidi has been with ReachGlobal as MK care coordinator focused on MKs in their teens and twenties. In this role, she offers pre-field and re-entry training, and encouragement and practical support to MKs on the field and during their college and post college years. In addition, she seeks to be a resource to parents as they raise their kids internationally. She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN with her two matching schnauzers.
Past, Present, Future: The brokenness of a holy mission –
Marcus Dip Silas, KODA Aid International
In most non-Western nations of the world, the introduction of the Gospel was accompanied by Western colonization. For many of these people groups, Christianity is still considered a Western cultural religion that symbolizes a history of violence. This violence has often overshadowed the good that missions from the West has accomplished. How has the brokenness of humanity impacted God’s holy mission? How can we work through the baggage of the past to ensure that we can continue reaching our world for Jesus? Let us examine our connection with the past in earnest and learn with humility how missions can progress through reconciliation.
Marcus grew up in Malaysia as a pastor’s kid. He attended Crown College, where he met his wife, Lauren. He earned his double bachelor’s in intercultural studies and theology in 2015 and a graduate degree from LSE (UK) in 2017. Marcus has worked with refugees in the Middle East, Asia and Europe since 2016. As a post-colonial follower of Christ, Marcus believes that God has not called the Church to be colorblind, but to embrace the differences within the body of Christ through the work of reconciliation and justice. He sees the future of missions and theologizing as diverse and multicultural, reflecting the myriad of cultural perspectives in the Kingdom. Marcus and his wife now live in Minneapolis. Marcus loves learning and is currently pursuing his master’s at Bethel Seminary. He is also the worship director at Faith Christian Reformed Church in New Brighton, MN.
An Overlooked Element of Care: Vocational Discernment for Global Workers – Sara Simons, The Way Between
This session will include interactive learning about vocational discernment, including using one of the many tools that we walk people through in The Art of Transition workshops. We’ll discuss the three developmental transitions in every adult life cycle; why vocational discernment looks different for global workers; how integrative work aids creativity and decision-making; and what resources are available for this crucial time of development and care.
Sara Simons is a cross-cultural transition coach and director of The Way Between. She and her family recently relocated to Denver, CO after eight years of living and working in Spain. Sara has been working in a member care capacity for almost 15 years. She created The Art of Transition Workshop and published the workbook as a tool for global workers needing vocational discernment. Together with her husband, Jeff, they founded The Way Between. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in intercultural studies, and an ACC with the International Coaching Federation. She loves hiking and biking with her family, traveling to new cultures, and being a creative catalyst.
How to be an Effective Sending Church – Amy Young, Global Trellis
In this workshop, we will explore four key areas for your church to think through, assess how you’re doing, and then walk away with a plan for how to engage your missionaries. While you’ll never be perfect, you can grow in being effective in sending and supporting people. They will thank you for attending this workshop. (Member Care 101 workshop)
Amy Young, MA, LPC served in China for nearly 20 years, holding various leadership roles, including member care director for 10 years. She co-founded Velvet Ashes and founded Global Trellis – providing online training and resources that enlarge the capacity of cross-cultural workers. She believes every cross-cultural worker can have a tended soul and expanded skill set as they fulfill their part in the Great Commission. In addition, Amy has written six books for Great
Commission workers. She lives in Colorado and is delighted not to have to get up in the middle of the night to cheer for the Denver Broncos and Kansas Jayhawks.
Child Safety and Missions – Training, Preventing and Coming Alongside
– Jodi Revell, ReachGlobal
This is a workshop for anyone interested in child safety – whether church leaders or missions leaders. Today’s world is full of news regarding child abuse and exploitation. Unfortunately, this is true even in the church and missions organizations around the world. What can we do to prevent child abuse, know how to watch for signs of abuse, properly screen staff and volunteers who serve children, and come alongside missionary kids and missionary families who are
affected by abuse? In this workshop, we will explore a wide range of child safety issues, and ways to help prevent it and come alongside those affected by it.
Jodi Revell has served as a missionary with ReachGlobal for 14 years, 12 of those in Hungary, as a part of the ReachGlobal Budapest City Team and teacher at the International Christian School of Budapest. In 2021, she and her husband, Mark, relocated to Minnesota. Both are still on staff with ReachGlobal where she now serves on the member care team as family ministries specialist and child safety officer. Jodi and her husband have two sons who attend the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
How Churches Can Care for Missionary Kids – Ali Jackson, ReachGlobal
Missionary kids (MKs) face unique challenges and enjoy unique benefits from their globally mobile lives. Growing up under the spotlight can affect their relationships with God and with the church, as many feel pressure to look good for their parents’ supporters. In this workshop, we’ll talk about the differing experiences of MKs with the American church and how churches can make a real impact for good in the lives of MKs.
Ali Jackson grew up in Brazil as an MK (missionary kid) and moved to the U.S. at age 16. She studied psychology at the University of Northwestern, and went on to get her master’s in missionary care at Columbia International University. She has been ministering to MKs for nine years, serving as an MK caregiver with ReachGlobal. Ali now lives in a little fixer upper home in Richfield, MN with her husband Noah and their two very fluffy cats.
Prayer Practices to Equip Ministry – Reina Brekke, Christos Center for Spiritual Formation
This workshop will explore prayer practices that support others and ourselves in ministry. We will consider how to stay connected to those in ministry, including those who serve in controlled environments. Together, we will explore what constrains us in our prayer life. Finally, we will discuss creative approaches to prayer that can expand our experience with God as we pray for others. (Member Care 101 workshop)
Reina’s childhood was spent in a loving but atheist/agnostic home. When she came to faith in Christ in her college years, she discovered a loving God who provided a moral compass for her life. In her early 50s, she noticed a sense of missing something in her spiritual walk, accompanied by a longing to experience a deeper connection with God. Part of this path led her toward the practice of spiritual direction. It has been a journey of discovering how to be with God, and not just what to do for Him. Part of that journey was completing a master’s degree in spiritual formation and spiritual direction through Richmont Graduate
University. She currently serves on staff at Christos Center for Spiritual Formation, coordinating a training program for spiritual directors. She is married, has two grown sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and four busy grandchildren.
Flying Solo – Hannah Rasmussen, Oasis International
Today’s generation of 20- and 30-somethings are excited about travel, have big hearts for doing good, and can move internationally much easier than in previous generations. While some go with traditional mission agencies, others minister under local partners, work for small nonprofits where they are the only one on the ground, or trailblaze supported by an informal network of family and friends. These new “goers” may not consider themselves missionaries or have the same training and support structures as traditional missionaries. Already part of a
generation that struggles with mental health challenges, they confront the additional stress of the mission field and sometimes traumatic events. This workshop will raise awareness about the changing landscape and the challenges 20- and 30-somethings face internationally. It will help churches and organizations to consider what kinds of support systems they offer, and young missionaries or potential missionaries consider how they can strengthen their support systems.
Hannah grew up in Tanzania and Kenya as a missionary kid, and worked in Kenya for six years as an adult. She is an acquisitions editor at Oasis International, where she worked on the Africa Study Bible and now coaches African authors to write Christian books. She holds a master’s of divinity from Africa International University. She has published in Missiology, the International Bulletin of Mission Research, Relevant, YouthWorker Journal, the Urbana Blog, Priscilla Papers and Mutuality. She is also the author of Good News About Gender: A Bible Study for Young Adults and editor of Faithful Servants.
What’s Different About Gen Z, Evangelism & Missions – Gary and Valerie Maloney, Youth for Christ Ireland
How does Gen Z define evangelism? How do they approach sharing their faith with non-Christians? What makes them unique to previous generations? Here’s what the church needs to know about Gen Z and evangelism, and how to nurture the missionary call.
Gary and Valerie have been missionaries with Youth for Christ (YFC) International since 2012. They spent six years with YFC in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, before returning to Minnesota in 2018. They currently serve as mission mobilizers. Valerie is the prayer coordinator with YFC Ireland. They both have served in various roles with Prairie River Camp, part of South Central Minnesota YFC. They have been married 33 years, have two sons and two grandchildren, and reside in Apple Valley, MN.
The Process of Practical Peacemaking – Dr. Janeen Davis, Peace Pursuit International
Dr. Davis will highlight key distinctions between the common methods of conflict resolution and those which have produced consistently positive outcomes for today’s missionaries. Using the Peace Pursuit model as a template, you will gain a practical plan for clarifying the goal of peace during ministry conflicts, reframing each person’s understanding of the conflict, and reordering the steps of confession and forgiveness within the peacemaking process. You will leave this
workshop with free resources and a new strategy for helping believers resolve relational problems.
Janeen Davis, PsyD, MFT, served overseas with a large missions organization since 2007, where she lived in three different countries in Asia and supervised a member care team that supported over 1,000 frontline personnel. In 2021, she founded Purpose & Peace Solutions and moved to Tennessee, where she maintains virtual counseling services for global missionaries and stateside individuals, while also serving as the director of counseling for a local church. Janeen is the master trainer and practitioner for Peace Pursuit International, and provides advanced training and consulting for local and international ministries who desire to improve in biblical conflict resolution, healthy teaming practices, and effective member care support.
Reinvigorating and Encouraging Missionaries on the Field – Barry Nelson, Barnabas International
We all hope to keep our missionaries healthy and hopefully not in need of crisis or trauma treatment. What steps can we take to rejuvenate, challenge and encourage missionaries to stay healthy and stay on the field? This workshop is designed to help you process through ways you can better serve your missionaries by nurturing them with a variety of beneficial activities. Lay people or professional caregivers, this workshop is for you. (Member Care 101 workshop)
Barry and his wife, Ruth, serve with Barnabas International from their home in Tracy, MN. Their ministry priority is to serve, encourage and refresh global workers in ministry – “helping them find strength in God” (1 Sam 23:16). Barry joined the staff of Barnabas in 2005, and lived and served in China (2006-2022). Before joining Barnabas, he served with Training Evangelistic Leadership (TEL) in Hong Kong and China (1991-2005). Barry also served as the China Ministry Director during those years, caring for about 30 global workers. Barry and Ruth met at Moody Bible Institute, and married not long after their graduation. They have nine children and six grandchildren.
Mental Health in Missions: How can I better understand and care for global workers? – Debbie Klaver and Laura Lee Finstrom, Minnesota Renewal Center
Global workers are faced with many stressors beyond what they have previously encountered due to transitions, losses, support needs and regular life tasks made difficult with cultural differences. Come to better understand the life of those you support and how you can better care for them so they can flourish where God has called them.
Debbie Klaver, MA, LMFT has been a licensed marriage and family therapist since 1994. She has a bachelor’s in education and previously served as a teacher in the U.S. and Ecuador. She received her master’s in clinical psychology from Wheaton College. Subsequently, she has provided individual, marriage and family therapy in several locations, including Minnesota Renewal Center where she has worked
since 2001 with clients who serve in ministry and missions, as well as those in the church and community. Her work with World Mission Prayer League began in Ecuador as a single missionary. Later, she and her husband joined the mission’s home office where she has served in various roles, including personnel director, and member care coordinator and consultant.
Laura Lee received a certificate of Biblical studies from the Association Free Lutheran Bible School in Plymouth, MN and a bachelor’s in secondary mathematics education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. After teaching six years at Aurora Christian School in Aurora, IL, the Lord led her to teaching missionary kids high school mathematics. While teaching at the International Christian School of Budapest for 10 years, she also was able to serve as the TeachBeyond member care coordinator for Hungary the last two years. Her heart is to continue serving the Lord, but now while supporting missionaries through counseling. Laura Lee is finishing a master’s through Liberty University in clinical and mental health counseling.
Practical Ways to Care for Your Missionary While on Home Assignment – Derek and Kristin Dearth, Action International Ministries
The local sending church is a significant resource and can make a big impact in the lives of their missionaries in five areas: pre-field preparation, serving on the field, during home assignment, transitioning to other ministry on the same field or a different field, and returning “home” after service. In this session, Derek and Kristin will explore practical ways a local sending church of any size can care for their missionaries while on home assignment. Sometimes home assignment can lead into other transitions in missionary service. They will also discuss how to be ready for that possibility and how to help.
Derek and Kristin grew up in the Midwest. God increased their passion for cross-cultural missions after going on short-term mission trips during their high school and early college years through their local churches. God led them to Zambia in 2002 and 2004, where they met as singles, and worked with and ministered to street kids alongside local churches. They returned to the States in 2005, and, after getting married and finishing college, they went back to Zambia in 2011. In 2017, they returned to the States, where Derek started working with the ACTION
USA team as an associate director with an emphasis on strategic planning. Kristin serves in various aspects of mobilization and coaching, and also works part time as a nurse. Derek and Kristin are blessed to have two sons and a daughter.
Action International Ministries*
City Hill Church
Lakewood Evangelical Free Church
Maple Grove Covenant Church
New Hope Church
New Life Church of Woodbury
River Valley Church
Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls
Woodbury Lutheran Church
World Mission Prayer League
Action International Ministries
Global Church Partnerships
Home Base at Calvary Church
KODA Aid International
Modern Day Missions
North Central University
The Way Between
Youth for Christ
2120 Lexington Ave N
Roseville, MN 55113
2023 Planning Team
- Mary Ann Anderson
Action International Ministries
- Melissa Bennett
- Derek Dearth
Action International Ministries
- Vonn Dornbush
- Jennifer Eckert
- David Harthan
TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission)
- Bonnie Johnson
- Paul & Kathryn McAlister
Pioneer Bible Translators
- Mark & Julie Morgenstern
- Mollie Popp
- Derrick Skoglund
Congregation of the Word