This summer, Dr. Justin Smith, Associate Professor of Professional and Pastoral Counseling and Director of the Phoenix Seminary Counseling Program, has been invited to serve along with his family at Breathe, an international retreat for missionaries needing spiritual and emotional renewal. The retreat will be held near Interlaken, Switzerland and will include attendees from Benin, Cameroon, China, Ethiopia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mali, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia. These are high-conflict areas where it is illegal to be a Christian and where those serving are exposed to war, overwhelming stressors, crises, exhaustion, and trauma. Research shows that between 80-94% of missionaries experience significant trauma on the field. In fact, 47% of full-time missionaries leave the field within 5 years. The reality is that 70% leave for reasons that could be prevented. This conference aims to change that statistic for many. There will be a heavy focus on being renewed and refreshed in the spirit of community and worship.
During the retreat, Dr. Smith will provide intensive individual and couples counseling while his wife Mary will be working with the women’s ministry. Their son and daughter will also serve by engaging with the missionary children at the same time. After the retreat the family will spend several days in Geneva where Dr. Smith will be consulting with psychologists at Member Care Associates – a group specializing in global mental health care.
Phoenix Seminary is grateful to be able to bring the issues and mission of the international counseling community directly to the classroom through opportunities and service such as Dr. Smith’s travels this summer. Students will benefit from first-hand insight into the possibilities and practices available world-wide for Christian counselors.