A Missionary’s Reflections on the Global Retreat


It’s a simple formula. Or perhaps it’s more of an experiment. Get a group of folks who are deeply convicted about the beauty and primacy of the local church, put them in the same room, and see what happens. Thanks to an amazing events team, superb leadership, and gifted teachers, RTIM’s 2024 retreat certainly had its trimmings, yet when you refine the event to the essence of success, it comes down to the people in the room. The Lord in his kindness has mobilized a number of godly global workers committed to spreading his renown through the ordinary faithfulness of following Christ and caring for his Bride. What is more, he has banded together some of us into an organization known primarily not for strategy or for methodology but for a love of Christ and his people. 

Over the course of the week, my family was privy to conversations about the usefulness of English-speaking churches, the beauty of the Lord’s work in different language-speaking churches, and the earnest desire for churches to be planted among peoples without alphabets. One church was not promoted above another, but the posture of each conversation was that of deep longing for each other’s churches to grow in depth, character, and number. 

But that’s just the church stuff, the things that we might assume a group would talk about whose common denominator is a shared ecclesiology. Yet we were also in conversations about the joys and woes of parenting abroad, the challenges of obtaining and maintaining visas, the need for theologically-astute entrepreneurs, the beauty of diversity, and opportunities to serve one another from afar. 

Again, while perhaps more colorful, these topics were not necessarily surprising. So, a bunch of church-nerd workers talk theology and expat life. I think that may be why my favorite sound during the week was not the buzz of theologically-rich conversation but the consistent peppering of laughter. It was not your classic family reunion. There was no Uncle Chuck making awkward jokes about reformed soteriology. We didn’t have Aunt Sally trying to matchmake Jill with her sweet little boy who has great theology but the personality of a doorknob. This was not an uncomfortable gathering of people who are happy to sign the same document but would rather not sit in a room together. That’s the beauty of the particular gift of RTIM—we’re a group of folks who both love and like each other. We’ve learned what happens when you put us in a room together: a lot of good conversations, and a lot of fun. 

My family recently acquired a card game that tests our knowledge of world geography. When I play, it’s embarrassing. I was blissfully unaware of how little I knew of the world. During the RTIM retreat, I heard about God’s faithfulness in places I didn’t know existed. I joined in prayer, yearning for churches to be strengthened in places I couldn’t find on a map. What is more, my family heard story after story of what the Lord is doing in and through the lives of his people amidst a whirlwind churches, relationships, lives, families, ministries, businesses, children, events, and details that would could have never imagined existed. 

These are good muscles to grow. Global workers are not immune to getting caught up in their own little worlds. While the substance of our lives the essence of our worlds may be deeply steeped in the Great Commission, we would be remiss to be content with praying and working merely toward the glory of God in our own neighborhoods. If our churches are to be healthy, and if we are to be mature, we must also lift our eyes to the globe, that we may pray and labour toward God’s name and renown echoing throughout the earth. To that end, it’s good to spend time with God’s people from other nations for at least three reasons. One, it reminds us that God is much bigger and is much more active than we think. He is at work in a thousand lives in a thousand places in a thousand ways. Two, it reminds us that we are much smaller than we think. We tend to fret and plan as if our every decision will tilt the balance of the cosmos, because our worlds are so small and our perspective is so short. Three, we were made to yearn for God’s glory to resound in the hearts of every person on the face of this globe. So it is good and right for us to be reminded of his work, to be encouraged by his people, and by his grace to pray and conspire about how we can keep each other faithful to the task at hand. 

K.B. Henry

K.B. has lived in Central Asia since 2016, where he oversees a travel company specializing in biblical tours of Asia Minor. He and his wife have three sons and are members of a small local church, where K.B. serves as an elder.

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