Life on the Other Side of Transition

Life on the Other Side of Transition

I’ve experienced more than my share …

of transition over the past 6 months. I said farewell to life and ministry in the land of Turkey. My oldest daughter was married (I gained a super son-in-law by the way.)  Our son recently moved away to college. Our youngest daughter started her high school career in a new town. A new home, church, and community. While many of these life events give good reason to celebrate, they are nonetheless big changes to navigate, and especially all at once!

It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to full time cross-cultural ministry. After all, it was some of the most rewarding and fulfilling 20 years of my life. Someone recently asked me what it was that triggered such a big transition. I couldn’t point to just one thing. Transitions are strange in that way. Feeling under-utilized, not challenged, restless – there were a number of indicators over a long season before the actual transition took place. God has his own way of getting us ready for change.

Transition is a process of letting go, grieving the losses, celebrating the past, and moving forward by faith into a new season of life and ministry

God has used transition, in its many forms, to shape my character, re-align myself with His purposes, and get me ready for the next assignment. And he’s not finished with me yet. I recently came across a devotional about the life of Joseph. We know about the multi-colored coat he proudly wore in his youth, but there is something much more enduring: his character.

“It was Joseph’s character, not his coat, that sustained him through years of betrayal, temptation, accusation and imprisonment.”
– The Word for You Today, December 2016

Prolonged and difficult transitions can be fertile ground for transformation

I’m also thinking of the global scope of this coaching community. I think of God’s promise to Abraham, that through him and his seed (that’s us) all nations will be blessed. May we pray to be shaken like salt and dispersed like light among the nations, in order that God’s promise to Abraham might be fulfilled, to the ends of the earth.

As a family, we’re starting to recover and regroup from all the transition. We’ve settled into our new abode (new for us), a 1960’s era home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. I’m back to building fires in the woodstove, raking up loads of pine needles, and a bit of hiking and hunting – all activities that were not part of life in the big city of Istanbul. These are things that renew and energize me. Well, maybe I could do without all the yard work!

Time and space to breathe

Transition has taken its toll on me emotionally and spiritually. Thankfully, God has given me the gift of time and space to breathe. I’ve been reminded of who I really am in relationship to God. I’m kept in the love of God and sustained by Him through intimacy with Him, not merely by what I do for Him. I’m passionate about coaching, but I want to be more passionate about God. I need this reminder from time to time. I always will.

As a coach, I’ve learned two valuable lessons through this season of change:
–  Working with a coach is a vital part of processing and planning through a transition.
–  We don’t need to have our own transition all figured out to effectively coach others.

God can and will use us to serve our clients well even when, or maybe especially when, we are navigating our own transitions.

Tim Austin is a certified Life and Leadership Coach, an MCT 2012 graduate, and ordained minister.
Tim believes that transitions, in their many forms, are fertile ground for personal and professional growth. He is the founder of Encompass Life Coaching, a consulting firm dedicated to coaching fellow transitioners in the marketplace, in ministry, and in missions. Prior to engaging as a full-time life coach, he dedicated himself to a life overseas. The adventure led him to Central Asia, where he gave vision and management to non-profits, international churches, and small businesses.
Tim thrives in culturally diverse contexts, contributing his gifts and skills for the common good.
Tim is the author of Transition Companion: Tips and Encouragement for Navigating Seasons of Change. He blogs at
He and his wife Eve have three amazing kids, one dog, and a marriage going on 25 years. Tim lives in the mountains of Northern California. Tim cannot imagine mornings without coffee, life without the great outdoors, a home without kids (2 out of 3 have currently left the nest), and an existence without God.

22 Gift Ideas for those you know in cross-cultural service

22 Gift Ideas for those you know in cross-cultural service

When I lived in China, I LOVED getting packages. This was back before so many western products were available and internet shopping was non-existent. My family used to ask me, well it was really more of  pestering me, if I was opening gifts early. Is it a lie if it keeps them happy? And I got a present a day? Really? Did Jesus come to bring joy or more rules?

Though it may be hard to believe, Christmas is around the corner. If you have Christian friends serving cross-culturally abroad, and you want to get them something for Christmas, you need to start thinking of gift ideas.

I sound bossier than I mean to be :).

I hate to admit that a lot of money goes into packages filled with stuff that isn’t needed or wanted. But I still believe that supporters want to bless those they support with gifts. For those who do not want to send Christmas money this will give you a few ideas.

Specifically look at #12! I’m super proud and excited about #12.

This list has been gather with an eye to what can help cross-cultural workers get to the field, stay on the field, transition from the field, or resettled for home assignments or reentry. Either choose something from the list or ask your cross-cultural workers what would be helpful at this point in their journey.


1. Need a gift idea for your family? Parents of Missionaries: How to Thrive and Stay Connected When Your Children and Grandchildren Serve Cross-Culturally by Cheryl Savageau and Diane Stortz.
2. Returning Well: Your Guide to Thriving Back “Home” After Serving Cross-Culturally by Melissa Chaplin. Melissa also offers coaching packages for individuals and families.
3. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.
4. As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir by Kay Bruner
5. THEM: The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others by John Certalic.
6. Transition Companion: Tips and Encouragement for Navigating Seasons of Change by Tim Austin.
7. Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service  by Amy Young.  Also the downloadable companion guides: Looming Transitions Workbook and 22 Activities for Families in Transition.


8. The Well in Chiang Mai, Thailand offers retreats on a regular basis—including for transitions, couples, marriages, Advent, parenting, Art. Find one that fits what you need now.
9. Azmera hosts 3 Haven Retreats around the globe annually.These retreats are designed to impact English speaking women serving overseas from various nations. We also welcome other expats (full-time vocational workers employed by embassies, companies, military, etc.).
10. Thrive offers retreats that allow women serving cross-culturally to get away from their demanding work for a time of rest, renewal, and refreshment. The women are ministered to holistically – spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
11. A spiritual renewal retreat through the closest Life Impact Ministries Oasis.
12. Velvet Ashes Annual Retreat — each spring Velvet Ashes puts on a retreat for cross-cultural servants right where they are. Participants download files so they can listen the speakers, meditate on scripture, and enjoy other parts of the retreat. Guess what? You can  purchase previous retreats for $20 (normally they will be $25, they are on sale for Christmas) . . . and your friend, daughter, or worker can tend to their soul during this difficult time.

Debriefing Retreats

13. Abide (by TRAIN International)—This one-week renewal for those transitioning back into American culture debriefs the cross-cultural experience, explores reverse culture shock, and equips for healthy reentry into the home culture.
14. Debriefing and Renewal (part of MTI)—gives people the chance to reflect on their journey and engage with the Father about their story. Adult and child tracks available.
15. ELIM Retreats—provide spiritual debriefing, spiritual renewal, and pastoral care of the global worker.
16. Emmaus Encounter—provides a safe place for men and women of the Christian faith to process events of the past, so that they may grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and move forward in health.

Miscellaneous Ideas for Life

17. Couples, want to invest in your marriage? A PREPARE/ENRICH marriage enrichment assessment has been a favorite for those desiring to go deeper in their relationship (bonus if you are given coaching to go with it!)
18. Money toward an IRA or other forms of retirement savings.
19. Money ear marked for self-care in your city (or nearest city)—may include massage, meal out, night in a hotel.
20. Call around Christmas just to chat (not for a “report”).
21. Invite young adult kids of workers overseas to your home for Thanksgiving or Christmas—blesses them and is a great gift to their parents oceans away.
22. Pay for several session of Christian Coaching through CMI. Your gift could help someone to spiritual and professionally develop. Coaching services include for transitions, life purpose and calling, and support raising.

Which of these gift ideas do you guess is on their wish list? What gift idea would help them to get to, stay on, or transition from the field?
A version of this first appear at A Life Overseas.

When Amy Young first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words needed in life, right?! She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as content creator and curator, book club host, and connection group coordinator. Her book Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service was written with you in mind. It also has two companion resources: 22 Activities for Families in Transitions and Looming Transitions Workbook.

Stewards of our Stories

Stewards of our Stories

Two years ago I began participating in some intensive training on how to coach leaders. I love learning and commit to pursuing personal development. I went into this course expecting to grow and add a new skill to my ministry toolbox. What has been a pleasant surprise is how personally motivating and inspiring the training has been.

One module focuses on helping leaders learn about their life purpose and calling. This has been incredibly challenging. Tony Stoltzfus has developed discovery tools to help believers be good stewards of their stories. It helps them to see how their experiences – the high and the low – are all working together as part of God’s redemptive plan in their lives. He is a founding board member of CMI and author of our textbooks, “Christian Life Coaching” and “The Calling Journey” available at

Personal timeline

As I used the tools and developed a personalized timeline of my life experiences and journey with God, I also examined my life and faith journey. In addition it has been humbling and faith-stretching to recall the times of deep suffering and sorrow, as well as great joy and fulfillment. I can see the four stages of a leader’s life as described in Tony’s model.

In setting up my timeline I realized that as I grow older (approaching 60) I am moving towards convergence. I can see that by understanding my God given design, and by using my best strengths to convey the Life Messages God has built into my heart and soul through His refinement and preparation. He has truly worked on my character. This final, Fulfillment Stage, is when I have the potential to have the maximum influence for the kingdom. Finally I sense an urgency to make the most of my remaining years and leave a legacy. It is an exciting time!

Life shaping valleys

Also the three life shaping valleys were revealed in my timeline: Dependence, Wholeness and Identity. These valleys were indeed very painful wilderness experiences that took place in my early twenties, late thirties, and mid-forties. I faced temptation, loneliness, a medical crisis, the death of a dream, the sudden loss of my father, a huge transition with accompanying loss of status and marital conflict.

In each situation, my life circumstances didn’t line up with what I had planned. At times it felt like God had abandoned me or was punishing me. And yet, in hindsight, I can see how God was at work in mighty ways shaping, molding, and refining me. He stripped away many things – pride, idols, self-effort, lusts, and doing for Him, instead of being with Him.

While I spent time recalling the details of how I encountered God in those times of brokenness, as well as the important life messages I gained about who He is and who He created me to be, I was really challenged. My faith has been renewed and my love for Him deepened. It is amazing to see that He has never let me go. The past, the present and the future are all held together by His sovereignty and love.

How about you?

What important life messages have you gained in times of great blessing and/or brokenness?
If you would like to know more about timelines, here are two possibilities for self-study:
1.Develop your own timeline. The process is explained with worksheets and examples here:
2. Apply this idea to one or more of your quiet times by doing the following:

  • STOP. Remember and reflect on your journey so far. How has God already been at work in you? What life messages have you gained from your past experiences?
  • ASK. Based on His faithfulness in the past, ask how He wants you to involve Him in your situation today.
  • CONSIDER. Think about the ways God has never let you go. Review and apply life messages He has taught you to things you are walking toward in the future.

Have a wonderful time of reflection and rejoicing in God, who is present in past, present and future!

by Barbara Leary

Barbara LearyBarb and her husband, Rich, have been in ministry for 30+ years. Twenty years with The Navigators and the past ten with CRU. They have lived and served overseas in Kiev, Ukraine and Budapest, Hungary for 15 of those years. Currently they serve CRU’s Eastern Europe Area’s LeaderImpact. She loves seeing women fall deeper in love with Jesus and although she thrives living cross-culturally she misses her five children and five grandchildren back in the States.

Coaching with Personality in Mind

Coaching with Personality in Mind

A critical moment

Andrew came to his coaching session exhausted, without completing his action steps: again!  After a wilderness season of searching for both relationship and calling, Andrew had recently been offered a dream position in an innovative new missions venture. Part of his new responsibilities included living in a discipleship house with roommates and an ever-changing roster of guest speakers, interns and visitors. Andrew was puzzled: “Why am I so tired? This is the role I have been praying for and dreaming of for 5 years! Now I am here and I just want to get in my car and drive away!”

Andrew was bringing a good deal of emotion to the session. He felt like a failure and was questioning his calling. It was a critical moment. How should Andrew’s coach respond? 

What was going on?

Trained in the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI), Andrew’s coach immediately became curious about how Andrew’s personality might be influencing his experience of his new role. Andrew was responding like a classic introvert to a very extroverted living situation! 

Introverts get recharged when they have time alone. They will gravitate towards one-on-one or small group activities and tend to be more sensitive to noise and activity. They go deep with a few, rather than go wide with many. Not having time and space to themselves will significantly impact an Introvert’s quality of life and level of stress. 

Bringing personality preference into the coaching session

Andrew’s initial question was “Why am I so tired?” So, his coach asked him a series of questions that helped him reflect on how he “recharges” including how he likes to spend free time; preferences for personal space, privacy and meeting new people; and how he processes information (internally or verbally/externally). All of Andrew’s preferences were strongly introverted. Then the coach shared some basic information about introversion and extroversion. Andrew had an “aha!” moment: he realized that, rather than questioning his calling, he simply needed to build some “alone time” into his schedule. What a relief! 

Extroversion and Introversion can impact the coaching process itself. Here are some tips for coaching these personality preferences:

  • Extroverts process out loud and will more naturally come to a decision and commit to action in the session. Introverts may need solitary processing time afterwards. Therefore, an Introvert’s action steps are often reflective (for instance, committing to journaling or prayer); and an Extrovert’s, more action oriented.
  • Extroverts may ask for face to face sessions; while Introverts may prefer to not even turn on the video function on skype! 
  • Extroverts like a fast pace in the session and don’t mind meeting in a noisy coffee shop; while Introverts will prefer a quiet place to meet with a more relaxed and reflective pace.

This is not optional!

Without this understanding of personality preferences, Andrew’s coach would have been handicapped in helping him get to the real source of his fatigue. And without grasping his inclination towards Introversion, his coach would not have been able to adapt to Andrew’s preferences about the coaching process either. 

Great coaches must develop an internalized understanding of personality in order to serve their clients well. Many systems and assessments are useful:  DISC, MBTI, the motivational gifts in Romans 12, for instance. But whatever system you choose to learn, learn it thoroughly, and practice until it becomes second nature.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about coaching with the MBTI, CMI offers a  unique Coaching Personality workshop both through our MCT program or as a stand alone workshop available in your organization or region (for more information, contact

Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!

Tinaby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI.  A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

The Life-Changing Power of Discovering Your Life Purpose

The Life-Changing Power of Discovering Your Life Purpose

Do a simple search for “life purpose” on Google and it will yield over 1 billion hits. Thats right, over 1 billion. That is a pretty strong indicator that there is an intense longing to know one’s life purpose. Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What am I supposed to do with my life? They’re all good questions and people are searching for answers.

Many websites offer a near-instant discovery of life purpose. “7 Strange Questions that Help You Find Life Purpose,” “Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes,” “5 Unexpected Ways to Find Your Life Purpose,” “15 Questions to Discover Your Life Purpose” are just a few of the results.

It’s a great journey

As a life and leadership coach, I’m obviously a strong proponent of letting a coach help you discover your life purpose. It is a great journey and process to discover how your design, passions, preparation and calling all come together to form your purpose. And I strongly believe that living out your life purpose can be powerfully life-changing. I say that because that’s what happened to me.

Little did I know …

In 2009 I was 16 years into full-time ministry, but didn’t have a clue what my life purpose was and I was feeling somewhat empty and unfulfilled doing ministry. Sure, I knew I was having a positive impact on people’s lives, but felt like something was missing. Did I really want to do what I was doing for the rest of my ministry career? I was accepted to the 2009 Mission Coach Training program with CMI, and that’s when things began to change for me. Part of the training curriculum is focused on Life Purpose Coaching, but little did I know what that meant, or what it would mean to me to be coached in this area and to discover my life purpose.

I now wake up every day knowing I will have opportunities to live out my purpose. My purpose statement is “I live in God’s grace and acceptance as I coach, train and disciple individuals and small groups to grow from where they are to be more like Jesus.” Each day I look forward to the opportunities He will bring me to get to live that out. There is such peace, freedom and joy in knowing and living out my purpose and calling.

What others say

“We are heading to [our new location] so I can fulfill my calling and live out my dream. Thank you for all you’ve done to get me to this point in my life, my marriage and now my ministry.”

“When we started the coaching process I truly did not believe that I would be able to make the change to the nonprofit world, let alone ministry – how could God use me when I had never done this before? As I look back on the exercises we did I can see how each one revealed another step of me ‘accepting’ that God prepared me and purposefully gave me experience that is now being used to his Glory! “

“This whole experience made me look back at pivotal points in my life, visualize my small and big dreams, see people I’ve helped and realize talents and skills that I could [use].”

“That purpose statement is something that would be worth getting up every day to live out!”

I share these comments with you because I want you to experience the life-changing power of discovering your life purpose. I’ve seen that power of discovery in myself as well as people from different walks of life, ages and experiences. But all have the same reaction: a true excitement and joy at discovering and living out their life purpose!

Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!

Jon Taylorby Jon Taylor, CMI Consultant, MCT Lead Trainer (Life Purpose Specialist). The Life Purpose Coaching module of the training had such an impact on him personally he wants to see others experience and multiply that impact for others. As Lead Pastor of a church in Phoenix, Arizona, Jon gets to coach, train and disciple wherever God gives the opportunity. More about Jon Taylor.

Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

Cross Cultural Stretching

Cross Cultural Stretching

Vacation or brain transplant

“AHHH! Why am I so TIRED??? My mind feels stretched in 20 directions and my concentration is shot! I either need a vacation or a brain transplant! What is wearing me out like this?” I asked my coach one day a few years ago. As we dug down into what was going on, I realized that the fatigue was directly related to coaching clients of various cultures one after the other all day. I identified several distinct stressors:

  • Struggling to decipher words in heavily accented English over bad skype connections
  • Adjusting pace and elements of the coaching funnel according to differing cultural needs
  • Needing to painstakingly think through and interpret client responses through the culture lens rather than simply trusting my (usually great) instincts
  • Readjusting to a new culture every hour and a half all day

Cross cultural stretching

No wonder I was worn out! Cross cultural coaches of all stripes deal with the emotional, spiritual, and cognitive stretching that coaching across a cultural divide can bring. This can be uncomfortable to us and the tendency may be to go back to coaching those we know and understand. If we persist with cross cultural client relationships, we face the fatigue of stretching.

It is an adventure

Coaching across cultures is an adventure that will require something of you. Jesus led the way when he came to earth to sacrifice himself as a bridge between the culture of heaven and the culture of earth. Out of love for us, he became like us. We have the privilege of following him when we are willing to make the smaller sacrifices necessary to bridge cultures in coaching. This is an unbelievably rewarding journey and well worth the sacrifice!

Step up

To do it, learning to step up self-care is part of the process. I needed to increase my prayer time and prayer shield, give myself permission to be tired, and take extra time between appointments.

What do you need more of in the area of self-care in order to make the sacrifice to coach cross culturally?

The Culturally Intelligent Coach, Virtues Series: Sacrifice and Boundaries

Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!

Tinaby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI. A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.