Canadian Council of Churches

Programs and Resources for Overseas Cross and Intercultural Encounters

The Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning (FILL) began in 1921 as The Canadian School of Missions. Drawing on its rich history of global engagement, FILL resources and supports overseas encounters across cultures. This page provides more information about our programs and resources that prepare individuals for overseas mission, re-entry into Canada, and short term mission and exposure travel best practices.

Preparation for overseas mission and ministry

The “Engage Difference!” program offers excellent preparation for overseas encounters and relationships across cultures, for both short or long travel. The program emphasizes the need to understand one’s own culture, its impact on relationships, and the historical roots that shape these encounters including mission history and colonialism. If there are a minimum number of participants preparing for contexts outside Canada there will be resources and exercises tailored for this group to apply the program learning to the overseas context or the program facilitators will work with denominations or other overseas personnel sending agencies to provide supplemental activities and resources.

On Your Way: A Guide to Your Overseas Intercultural Experience

This small but helpful book covers a broad range of topics for overseas mission personnel. Hard copy available for purchase. Overseas mission personnel have described this simple “handbook” as a lifesaver that helped them through the physical, emotional, and spiritual dynamics of life, work, and ministry in another culture.


Supporting re-entry to Canada after short or long term overseas experiences

Returning overseas personnel experience common themes as they discern how to live faithful to their overseas experience and relationships.

The Re-Entry Program is designed to help those returning to Canada in their process of transition and re-integration. A facilitated gentle group process uses the gifts and personal experiences of participants along with presentations by staff and resource people. This retreat  is an opportunity to spend time with a supportive group of people who have in common the experience of transition to life in Canada.

This retreat works best when participants have been back in Canada for a period of time and have begun the process of re-entry. Over the course of the program, we journey together through activities that mirror a letting go—letting be—letting begin model of transition. Themes explored include telling the story, loss and mourning, violence and trauma, conflict, gifts of our journey, and next steps.

Custom programs are offered for long term overseas personnel, overseas theological students, and shorter-term overseas placements. These program are contracted by denominations and other institutions as they support their personnel in re-entry to life in Canada.

Short Term Mission & Exposure Travel 

In working with leaders of short-term exposure travel, the Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning draws from 100 years of international ministry experience, a diversity of resources, connections with denominational mission departments, and knowledge of the historical and global context of missions.

As a forum for discourses on mission, we have sought to cultivate and curate research on short term missions. In addition to the resources for overseas personnel above, we also have developed publications about short-term missions and resources for leaders of short term mission (see below).

Learning for International Faith Engagement (LIFE) Seminars for mission trip leaders

These ecumenical seminars are for individuals contemplating international and local immersion, study, or work trip leadership, those who already have groups preparing to go, and seasoned trip leaders.  They allow participants to reflect on the practical and theological issues involved in mission trips and to build their programs from beginning and orientation stages, to plan for the details of the mission exposure trip, and to focus on the essential aspects of the post-trip experience.  The program is limited to maximum of 20 participants.  You may wish to contact your denomination office to see if they provide support for participants.

This program is offered at the request of denomination partners or in partnership with other organizations. Please contact us to collaborate on or negotiate a program offering.

Sojourning: A Leaders Guide for Short Term Mission Travel

This ecumenical resource brings to short term mission travel the principles of mission, wisdom of overseas partners, and best practices of FILL’s member denominations. This is an essential manual for leaders of international and local immersion, mission, study, or works trips. It provides information and reflection for each of the stages of mission travel: early discernment, first steps in organizing a trip, pre-trip activities with participants, the trip itself, and post-trip activities and process. Available in hard copy or electronic version.

Online Resources