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. 


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