Monday, May 24, 2010

Member Care Explained

What do you think of when you hear the word “missionary?”  Many of us may think of historical people who have borne the title such as Lottie Moon or William Carey.  Others may think of someone that they know personally who has chosen to lay down their comfortable American life and follow Jesus to the “ends of the earth”—choosing to live in a dirt floor hut rather than a brick home in suburbia.  The word “missionary can easily become romanticized in our minds and we begin to think of them as superhuman followers of Jesus who never met a challenge they couldn’t overcome.  Many missionaries may even have this perspective of themselves as they prepare for mission service; yet they soon learn, as Jesus said in John 16:33, that “in this world you will have trouble.”  How desperately Satan wants to disrupt the work of those God has called to be His witnesses around the world.  
Each year many missionaries return home to the United States before their appointed time.  This phenomenon is referred to as “missionary attrition.”  The reasons behind this attrition are as varied as the people themselves.  However, conflict with a spouse or other team member is the most common struggle.  The stress of living in a culture which is different from one’s own, eating food that may be very different from home, speaking a language that is not native to you, dealing with civil and political unrest, and constant concern over your family’s safety can wreak havoc on a marriage.  These same stressors mixed with various personalities and leadership styles can cause great tension among missionary team members.  Many missionary organizations have identified these problems and are now asking the right question—how can we invest in our missionaries so that they will be able to continue investing in the lives of the unsaved around the world?  The answers to this question have included such things as improving pre-departure screening procedures, holding annual training seminars, and providing on field counseling and encouragement. 
How do I fit into all of this?  God has given me a burning passion to be a Barnabas type encourager for missionaries who are struggling on the field.  As I mentioned in a previous post, last November the vision that God has given me for being involved in member care finally began to take shape.  Loosely defined, member care is the ongoing preparation, equipping, and empowering of missionaries for effective and sustainable life, ministry and work.  On June 10th I will be departing on my first trip to care for missionaries serving overseas.  While I have traveled quite a bit and have even served on the mission field myself this is a new chapter in my ministry.  I will be flying to Moscow, Russia where I will have an opportunity to work with approximately 45 missionary families who are serving all across Russia.  I praise God that He has already worked out many of the details for making this project a reality.  However, I do ask that you would pray for my family and me in several ways.  First, please pray for Nicole as she will be caring for our three children alone while I am gone for 10 days.  Also, please pray that the hearts and minds of the missionaries will be open to receiving God’s truth and encouragement for their lives.  Third, please pray that I will be a conduit through which the Holy Spirit can speak into the hearts of His people.  I have been told that many of these missionaries have been waiting for over a year to meet with member care personnel and I know that many of the issues they are facing will be incredibly difficult and challenging.  Thankfully when Jesus said “in this world you will have trouble” He also said, “take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Finally, please pray that God would provide the remaining funds to cover the expenses for this trip.  Currently I have raised 17% of what is needed to cover the trip costs.  If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation you can visit us on the web at or mail it to:

Abundant Life Christian Counseling Center, Inc.
10501 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy. Suite 107
Fort Myers, FL 33966

Thank you for being a part of our lives and ministry. 


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reaching Out

Tonight as I was putting Caden to bed I took some extra time to talk to him about how special he is and how I pray for God to do amazing things in his life.  As I finished by telling him how much I loved him he reached out and grabbed my arm.  Now, it's not uncommon for Caden to want me to stay with him a few minutes before he falls asleep but I could tell that tonight was different--tonight it was going to take a while.  An hour later he fell asleep and I was finally able to get up.  He wouldn't let go as long as he was awake.  Then, when he had fallen asleep, I attempted multiple times to move his hand but would wake up and grab on again.  Often when this happens my mind immediately begins to dwell on all the things that I need to be doing.  However, tonight I realized just how awesome it is for your child to simply desire to be in your presence and how amazing it is to feel your child's love for you.  The parallel is too obvious not to mention.  Just as a child, realizing the depth of a father's love, wants to be in his presence, so it should be between our heavenly Father and us.  If we truly realized the depth of His love it seems that we would desire nothing more than to simply be in His presence.  Instead we allow our minds to be redirected by the mental clutter that fills our lives.  Perhaps I should heed more fully the words of David:  “Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.  Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth.” (1 Chr. 16:10-12).  How about you?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Next Step

So I think it is fair to say that we get an “F” in blogging 101.  When we last updated this blog we were a family of four, now we are a family of five.  Journey Faith Cook joined our family on February 15, 2010.  It is amazing to watch her grow along with Eliana and Caden.  Also, when we last updated this blog we were living in New Orleans where I was pursuing my Master of Divinity in Psychology and Counseling.  After five years of work I finished that degree in May 2008 and we then moved to Fort Myers, FL where I founded Abundant Life Christian Counseling Center, Inc.  For the past year and a half I have been providing counseling for individuals, couples, and families in the Southwest Florida region.  However, five years ago when Nicole and I were going through a pre-departure training program at Mission Training International, God burdened me with a desire to work primarily with other ministers and missionaries in a field that is now commonly known as Member Care.  At the time I assumed that this would be something that I would do later in life after I had paid my dues in counseling and ministry.  However, in the time since we moved back to Fort Myers, God has continued to place this desire at the forefront of my mind.  Last November I was able to attend the Mental Health and Missions Conference in Angola, IN.  There I was able to finally discover some of the ways that I could use my gifts as a counselor to serve the missions community.  Now, God is finally opening the doors that I have been anxiously awaiting.  In the coming days I will be sharing about an opportunity that I have to minister to missionaries serving in Russia as well as some of the reasons why Member Care has become such a vital ministry.  Thank you for reading this and being a part of our lives.