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Iron Sharpens Iron

"As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 NLT

Iron Sharpens Iron is a short-term, no cost counselling ministry in Mackay Queensland for missionaries, development workers and pastors.


Dr Roger Van Der Veen and Ms Julie Van Der Veen Counsellors, Facilitators, and Member Care Providers


Address:Cnr Brisbane and Shakespeare Streets
Mackay QLD 4740 Australia
Postal:PO Box 1045
Mackay QLD 4740 Australia
Phone:0478 713 188
Intl.:+61 478 713 188

Basis for this Ministry

  1. The Great Commission (evangelism and sharing the word).
  2. The Great Commandment (development work and social justice).
  3. Supporting those who serve.

Rationale for this Ministry

People serving in missions and ministry can face many issues and if left unchecked, disillusionment and loss of hope can result. The consequence of which could be people leaving the field (missions or ministry) altogether. Addressing these matters might allow personnel to continue serving.

Examples of Challenges

  • miscommunication or conflict with team members
  • traumatisation
  • depression and anxiety
  • marriage or relationship strain
  • transitions such as re-entry to home country
  • changes in physical or mental health
  • accidents or injuries
  • feelings of frustration, resentment, guilt, or shame
  • loss and grief or bereavement
  • unclear sense of role and purpose
  • unfulfilled expectations
  • changing circumstances of family members in the home country
  • tenuous relationships with locals and nationals

What the Ministry Offers

This ministry offers two to five weeks in a calm and tropical environment, away from day–to–day life and expectations. This is an opportunity for processing, reflection, and reframing through the provision of counselling for the purpose of restoring hope.

  • counselling
  • facilitation
  • coaching and mentoring
  • professional or clinical supervision
  • debriefing

Counsellors, Facilitators, and Member Care Providers

Dr Roger Van Der Veen is married to Julie Van Der Veen and they have two adult daughters. He started providing member care services in 2005 when God called him to be involved in this area. His qualifications are BA, BSW (Hons), MSW, PhD, and MAASW. Since the 1980s, he has worked as a counsellor, social worker, and facilitator (in Canada and Australia), including seven years as a university lecturer and ten years as a clinical educator. His employment history includes counselling, hospital work, mental health, child protection, community development, teaching and lecturing, research, and the settlement of migrants and humanitarian entrants. He has taken part in several short-term mission trips to China, Mongolia, and Vanuatu.

Julie Van Der Veen was a school counsellor and previously a teacher. Her qualifications are BEd, MEd, and Grad Cert in Sand Play Therapy. Julie’s counselling interests in member care are the transitions of families from the field to home country.


  • People (missionaries, evangelists, field/aid workers) who are serving or have served with a Christian mission organisation in a cross-cultural context. This could be in a paid or unpaid capacity. Participants can hail from any country.
  • Pastors
  • Member Care Providers


There is no cost or fee payable to participate in this counselling ministry.


The participant can self–refer by completing an application form (available upon request).


Involvement with this ministry is strictly confidential, unless the participant has signed an authority for the release of information. However, the exception is when there are legal or ethical requirements to disclose information.

A support person is welcome to attend sessions, provided the participant has given consent.


Awaken Retreats is a four-hectare property located near Kuttabul, 30 minutes north of Mackay. The retreat centre offers accommodation to pastors, missionaries, and their families. More information can be found at Please contact Alison Tye via email for information regarding availability and cost.

Accommodation can also be found through the websites of Mackay Tourism and Airbnb.


Mackay has public transportation, but having access to a vehicle would be advantageous.

Other Information

Mackay has a population of approximately 100,000 people. It is situated 950 km (600 miles) north of Brisbane on Australia’s eastern seaboard and 700 km (450 miles) south of Cairns.

There are daily flights from Brisbane to Mackay, 1½ hours duration. Mackay (right on the coast) is located in the tropics. Nearby are the world-famous Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef, only 150 km (90 miles).

The summer is the wet season, being humid from December to March. Summer temperatures in Mackay range from 30–34°C (86–93°F) during the day. The dry season is generally April to November. Temperatures range from 18–30°C (65–86°F) during the day, with June–July being the cooler time of year.

Upon arrival in Mackay, the participants will be met and greeted by a representative of the ministry. The participants will be settled in by being taken on a short tour of the local area.

Enquiry Form: