There are around 100 „one another“-statements in the bible – 60 of them in Paul’s letters – that describe how Christians should embody the body of Christ. These statements talk about unity, love, humbleness and several other practical areas of life. In our home church or with friends and family, mutual care in everyday life appears natural.
However, when missionaries leave their homes, they leave this encouraging and growth-stimulating environment behind them. Missionaries enter a new culture, often in regions that have been shaken by poverty and crises – and due to their spiritual work they enter the enemy’s field of fire. Without encouragement, friendship, help, counsel and supporting prayers they often fight alone.
Missions history tells us that many of those that we consider missionary heroes today, like Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson or David Livingston, had to pay a high price for their ministries, even unto deepest despair and often at the expense of their families.
The truth is, of course, then and now, that the God who sends us is our companion, our rock, our provider, our help. And the Holy Spirit cares for us as our comforter, counselor and teacher. But those “one another”-phrases reveal the responsibility of sending churches and organizations towards our missionaries.
What is the use of “member care” for missionaries?
Studies reveal that the premature return of many missionaries could have been prevented by appropriate accompaniment and intervention. Good member care includes, on one hand, care for the personal well-being of the missionary and his family. On the other hand, it supports the missionary in the exercise and development of his ministry. It prepares the missionary for his tasks, supports him in his spiritual, personal and professional advancement with the aim of having a fruitful and sustainable ministry that will bring fruit which outlasts the missionary’s presence at the place of work,
Good Member Care helps us to do good missions work1], says Kelly O’Donnell, whose 5 spheres model the Member Care approach of Globe Mission is based on. O’Donnell is one of the modern pioneers for this topic and I appreciate the scope of his research and their biblically well-grounded realization.
Which areas require support?
- Master Care- refers to a) God’s care for us, our relatioship to him, expressed in spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading the Bible et. And b) our care for God’s cause, e.g. our service for him.
- Self Care – the personal responsibiity of the missionary for his health and his well-being in all areas of life, Mutual Care – the local mutual support through family, friends, local church and missionary colleagues with the purpose of encouragement, accountability and correction. This sphere is the backbone of member care.
- Sender Care – The responsibility oft he sending churches and the missions agency, in our case Globe, to accompany the missionary from the point of recruitment to retirement or return.
- Specialist Care – this is about a professional, personal and practical supply of care in the areas of health, team building / interpersonal skills, finances/logistics, counseling/psychological help, help in crises/emergencies, family/missionary children, further training/career development, spiritual coverage.
- Network Care – development of a relationship net on the field between various organizations/churches for mutual encouragement and support.
How does Globe put this care into practice?
O’Donnell’s model is ambitious and sets the bar high. In order to implement all of this, we need time and power, and we are on our way.
Caring for those that we send to the missionary frontlines is a matter of heart. This was true for Brad and Jan Thurston when they founded Globe Mission and in all the years of their ministry. The same is true for the new leaders and all staff members in the Globe center. Together we are developing basic conditions and structures that meet the needs of a growing number of missionaries. We appreciate your support in prayer a lot.
We are currently connecting the missionaries with one another for communication and mutual encouragement. In addition to this, missionary have immediate access to the Center in Hamminkeln, Germany, from where the local staff keeps the interaction with the “field staff” lively and up-to-date. This implies regular communication as well as work behind the scenes that cares for administrative security in finances and insurance. We invite missionaries for times of equipping, have a crisis reaction plan (although we hope we will never have to use it) and a collection of information about specialists which our missionaries can contact. Other areas are being developed.
We thank all of you who personally or through your church do your part in helping Christ’s ambassadors spread and live the gospel in all the world. Together, let us do all that is necessary for them to do their work with blessing and victory.
Ulrike Krallmann and her husband Günter were the first Globe Missionaries in 1992. Since 2004, they have been living in Norway and have been working in an international teaching ministry. Find more information on their ministry here.
 Doing Member Care Well, Perspectives and Practices From Around the World, ©2002 World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission, S. 1