Lake Yale to house transitioning missionaries

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December 3, 2015

Temporary housing for families of International Mission Board missionaries who are transitioning back to the states will be made available at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg beginning in April.

“The desire of Florida Baptists is to minister to our returning missionaries,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, in announcing the availability of the housing accommodations at Lake Yale.

“Our Florida Baptist churches will be informed concerning these families and will have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our love and support through this season of transition,” he said.

At least 600 field personnel and stateside employees are expected to resign from the IMB as a result of a voluntary retirement incentive (VRI) offered to all personnel 50 and older with five or more years of service. The resignations are necessary to reach a balanced budget and compensate for budget shortfalls according to IMB President David Platt.

The Lake Yale housing will consist of different types of accommodations that will meet the needs of several families for a period of days to weeks, Green explained. Persons interested are urged to contact Don Sawyer, Lake Yale Conference Center manager by email at or phone, 352-483-9800 for specific details.

Cindy Bradley, catalyst of the Convention’s Women’s Missions and Ministries /Missions Education Team, said many missionaries have strong roots to the Sunshine State.

Many international missionaries first felt God calling them to full-time mission service in their Florida Baptist churches either as young adults or in their later years.

In November, nearly 40 missionary parents attended a fellowship meeting in Ocala.  The group of parents and other missionary family members network together to pray for the missionaries and to share news from their work in their place of ministry.

Richard Tudor of the Florida Missionary Parents Fellowship said other missionary parents live in Florida but could not attend.

“It is important that we as a convention support our returning missionaries,” said Bradley. “We have sustained them as they have shared the Great Commission throughout the nations. We now have an opportunity to care for them in a new role during this time of transition. “

Bradley said many Florida Baptist churches have missionary houses on their property. She urged these congregations to share the availability of these homes by contacting her, the SBC Woman’s Missionary Union or International Mission Board, SBC, who work cooperatively in identifying accommodations for missionaries.

“Churches can be involved in ministering to the retiring missionary families by helping them find jobs, places of service and even vehicles,” she said. “Imagine trying to get around a city in Florida without having any transportation.”

The resource, “Ways to support your field personnel as they return to the U.S.” is now posted at  and recommends that churches form “re-entry teams” to assist returning missionaries with practical services, friendship and prayer.

by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention

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