By Richie Beeler
Corryton (Baptist) Church has a heart for missionaries. Sixteen years ago God gave Paul Cowell of Whitestone Country Inns in Kingston a vision to minister to missionaries around the world. Because of the enormous difficulties missionaries can face, the drop-out rate is high. Apart from the normal difficulties that families here face, missionaries have to learn a new language and navigate cultural differences. They are also always on the “giving” end of things – they serve others; people seldom serve them.
Cowell approached Corryton Senior Pastor Rocky Ramsey about raising the funds to provide a free four-day three-night retreat at an international site. Corryton became one of the primary sponsors for Cowell’s vision and the Christian Hospitality Network Missionary Getaways were launched. On year six Pastor Ramsey and others from Corryton began to be a part of the trip teams.
The CHN Getaway teams included volunteers who would serve the missionaries while they were at the retreat. Cowell’s volunteers included doctors, chiropractors, and others. The primary goal was just to serve and “love on” the missionaries who are often isolated from the world we experience on a daily basis. One missionary, for example, lived in complete isolation until she came out of the Amazon jungle every six months to a year to get mail and supplies. The CHN Getaways have ministered to over 4,000 evangelical missionaries who serve a host of sending agencies.
In years 7 through 10 other Corryton staff and members began to be a part of the CHN Getaway teams. After the Kusadasi, Turkey Getaway, Ramsey and the other Corryton members felt God’s leading to provide their own retreats. So five years ago Corryton Church began to provide its own retreat for Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries. Those retreats have now taken place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Phuket, Thailand; Iguassu Falls, Brazil; Brunnen, Switzerland; and this October in Split, Croatia. The 2016 retreat site is yet to be determined.
Each year the church brings in 120 IMB missionaries for a four-day three-night retreat at a four or five star hotel. In addition to providing the missionaries lodging and meals, each attendee is given $200 for travel. Expenses are paid by the church and Corryton members who help to sponsor individuals or couples.
At the retreat the missionaries have their days to themselves for rest or sightseeing and attend a meeting after supper. There they get to worship in English, hear a message from Pastor Ramsey on surviving the perils of ministry, and enjoy several humorous “characters” provided by Alan Cottrell. The team joins the missionaries at meals to hear their stories and to encourage them. The church also collects and surprises the missionaries with letters from home, and the women enjoy a free shopping spree to obtain scarves and jewelry.
This year’s trip was especially important as most of those attending had been offered an early retirement package from the International Mission Board. The IMB is being forced to reduce expenditures to balance its budget. Pastor Ramsey brought messages of hope and helped those attending to gain God’s perspective on their unforeseen situation.
Each year the missionaries who attend are overwhelmed. Tears of gratitude always flow when goodbyes are said. To view a video with missionary testimonies go to corrytonchurch.com/missions.