by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
Intentional care of missionaries as an integral part of a mission agency’s mandate is a growing reality. …Does the World Wide Web have a role in fostering missionary care and providing resources for missionaries and mission agencies?
Intentional care of missionaries as an integral part of a mission agency’s mandate is a growing reality. The Affirmation made at the Global Consultation on Evangelical Missiology (Iguazzu, Brazil; October, 1999) states, "We commit ourselves to support and nurture our missionary workers for their sakes and for the Gospel witness" (world evangelical. org/textonly/3igua-affirm.htm). Does the World Wide Web have a role in fostering missionary care and providing resources for missionaries and mission agencies? From the number of sites available, it seems this is yet another area in which the Web can service the missions community. As usual, we have constructed a Web page on MisLinks (www.gmi.org/mislinks) that includes all of the links mentioned below (plus a few extras) at www.gmi.org/mislinks/Misres/ membcare.htm.
Sites devoted to missionary care. The Psychology Department of Asbury College has developed perhaps the best site on missionary member care: "Mental Health and Missionary Care" www.asbury.edu/academ/psych/mis_care/index.htm). The site includes three primary features.
1. A collection of brochures written for missionaries (www.asbury. edu/ academ/psych/mis__care/ brochure.htm). These deal with practical mental health topics (stress, culture stress, anxiety, expectations, grief, leadership, etc.) and can be printed from the site, copied, and distributed. In a day when copyright issues are sensitive and intellectual property rights are closely guarded, it is refreshing to find an institution committed to providing practical advice without charge to the missions public.
2. The Missionary Care Database (www.asbury.edu/academ/psych/ mis_care/dwnload. htm), which contains information on more than 570 articles and books. In addition to the full publication information, the database includes concise evaluations, outlines, "gems" (quotes of particular interest), and topical categories for every article. You can search the database by topic and download it (in Access 2.0) to your own computer and change it to suit your needs.
3. A small collection of links to other Web sites offering similar resources. The second major site is Member Care Associates (www. member-care, org/), maintained by the Member Care Task Force (MemCa; explained in www.membercare.org/ memca. htm) under the auspices of the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship. This site is "dedicated to providing a source for networking missionary care information and resources." The site notes that its impact depends on the participation of members, whose contribution of "member care related materials, resources and information about related activities will make this site a success."
As with the Asbury site, there are multiple subpages. In addition to pages giving the purpose of the site and the organization behind it are several resources. One is a list of outlined models of member care (www. membercare.org/models.htm). Another presents links to topical discussions on a number of issues: systemic, job-related, missionary lifestyle, relational, personal history, personal and spiritual growth, and issues of specific populations (www.member care.org/ issues.htm). The site also provides a resources page (www. membercare. org/resource.htm) that accesses several full-text articles, bibliographies, and reviews of books.
The final site devoted wholly to member care is that of Eastern South America region of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board (http://ministryserver.com/others/esac/ESAcare.htm. It includes a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet on member care (http://members. tripod.com/ESAcare/FAQ.html) and links to other sites (http:// members.tripod.com/ESAcare/ links.html).
Site offering discussion, ideas, and suggestions. The Mission Mobilizers Database (www.caleb project.org/bomm/) is Brigada’s list of books, organizations, and other resources to aid in caring for missionaries. It has several subtopics under missionary care (easily accessed by browsing to www.calebproject.org/bomm/ #n), including resources, financing missionaries, field accountability, ideas for encouraging/supporting missionaries, books on reentry, ideas for helping reentering missionaries, and retreats. It also offers suggestions for tentmakers under three headings: startup, field issues, and financial issues. The final two sections include discussion on the question of loyalties (to the target people or the missionaries sent) and mothers and ministry.
Links and resources for sale. Several organizations that provide services and resources for missionary care have Web sites. We present them here in alphabetical order.
ACMC (Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment; http://acmc. org/), an organization that helps churches become more effective in missions, has a topics page (http:// acmc.org/topics.html) with some valuable articles. ACMC also offers resources for sale (http://acmc.org/ care.html).
Barnabas International’s vision is to provide "a world-wide ministry of encouragement to missionaries, MKs, & national pastors" (www. barnabas.org/index.html). Be sure to check out its resources page (www.barnabas. org/links.html; the Mission Links button provides links and e-mail addresses to more than a dozen ministries).
Emmaus Road International (www.eri.org/), a ministry providing contemporary resources for missions, has several helps, including a short paper entitled "Eight Possible Next Steps" (www.eri.org/pdf/8steps.pdf). You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/ readstep.html) to view and print the page. ERI also sells The Reentry Team: Caring For Your Returning Missionaries, a book by Neal Pirolo (www.eri. org/ publications, html).
Godspeed (www.missionary care, org/index.html) is a missionary care corporation "offering help to Christian missionaries and pastors who are hampered by emotional stress, situational conflict, or physical illness, to enable them to fulfill their mission and calling." Resources of interest from this site include Missionary Medical Moments (www.missionary care.org/mismedmo.html), which offers information on topics such as depression (www.missionarycare.org/ mmm/mmm9903.html), panic disorder (www.missionarycare.org/mmm/ mmm9907.html), and sleep disorders (www.missionary care.org/mmm/ mmm9908.html). Godspeed also offers advice on jet lag (www. missionarycare.org/mmm/mmm9901.html) and provides links to a number of other helpful sites (http://www. missionarycare.org/links.html).
Grace’s Resource Place (www. skyfamily.com/gracew) hosts a Member Care Resources page (www.skyfamily.com/gracew/index23 .html). The third section of this page is on missionary care and provides a valuable list of Web-based resources.
International Teams "works hard at perfecting our program, providing our missionaries with the tools and resources they need for success and removing or minimizing the barriers that might hinder them" (www. iteams.org/). Among the organization’s eight objectives is to foster personal care of team members, including "The provision of personalized care and service for each missionary at every stage, from time of inquiry through training, departure, time on the field, furlough and retirement." To fulfill this objective it provides a number of member care resources in a database of available resources for sale (www.iteams. org/ITeams/resource/ crdb/Topic-Missionary_care.html).
LinkCare Center (www. linkcare. org/), a support agency that offers counseling and other services to help missionaries, has a basic Web site. At the time of writing, the Web page was under reformulation after the death of Dr. Donald Larson. Indications are there will be multiple resources provided directly on the site.
OSCAR (UK information service for World Mission) has a large site with many links. The sections of interest in Member Care are Pastoral Support on-the-Field (www.oscar. org.uk/ service/pastoral/onthefield/) and Post-Field Counseling (www.oscar. org.uk/service/medical/postfield/ counseling.htm), which contain information on organizations or individuals who can provide post-field counseling for missionaries and overseas Christian workers.
Articles and bibliographies. Evangelical Missions Quarterly (www. wheaton.edu/bgc/EMIS/emqpg.htm) has two articles online that deal with member care issues. The first, "Crisis Intervention for Missionaries" by Karen Carr (www.wheaton.edu/bgc/ emis/emmq articles/crisisint.htm) explains the CISD model of intervention. The second is "Boomers, Busters, and Missions: Things are Different Now," by Ken Baker (www.wheaton. edu/BGC/EMIS/archives/boomers. htm), who notes the significance of member care to Boomer missionaries.
Three papers on member care are also available online. "Selection, Training, Member Care and Professional Ethics: Choosing the Right People and Caring for Them with Integrity" (www.ac.biola.edu/%7Ejay/ ethicalcare.html) is a paper presented by Larry and Lois Dodds at the IFMA/ EFMA Personnel Conference, Orlando,, Florida, December 4-6, 1997. Based on more than two decades of experience in cross-cultural ministry with Wycliffe, the Dodds discuss selection criteria for choosing missionary candidates, essential elements for training missionaries, and the process of caring for missionaries once they are in their fields of service.
"The Psychology of Missionary Adjustment, " by Melissa J. Dyches (www.covenant.edu/scholarship/ Dyches/missionary.asp), is the author’s Senior Integration Paper at Covenant College. The Missions Resource Network (www.mrnet. org/) has "How to Care for Your Missionaries" (www.mrnet.org/pp_missiony_ care.htm), a good introductory article with guidelines and suggestions on missionary care, and a brief bibliography (www.mrnet.org/Suggested_ Reading _for_Missionary_ Care.htm). Center for World Missions (www. gospel com.net/ccwm/) also has a bibliography on member care (www.gospel com.net/ccwm/miscare. html).
We hope the resources featured in this article signal the early stages of what may become a trend in missions. The ability to place high quality and low (or no) cost resources on the Web accessible around the world will certainly assist the world missionary enterprise. May this trend continue. We welcome suggestions for more links on Member Care to add to the MisLinks site
EMQ, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 84-87. Copyright © 2001 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.