Missionaries are sent to the least reached people using creative approaches and strategies, however, insufficient care and support may hinder effectiveness in the ministry and hamper personal growth and development.
Asian Center for Missions (ACM) in Mindanao addressed these concerns among missionaries in the field as well as the members and workers within the church through a Member Care Seminar conducted on July 15, 2016, at Davao Bible Community Church with the theme: “STRONGER TOGETHER: PROVIDING MEMBER CARE TOWARDS PERSONAL WHOLENESS AND EFFECTIVE MINISTRY”.
Nine churches were represented during the seminar. Eight of these churches have members that have been sent to attend ACM’s Missionary Training Program (MTP), in fact, 14 members are part of Davao Batch 17 which is currently ongoing, and three members have already been deployed in the field. The goals of the seminar were to raise awareness among missionary-sending churches regarding the importance of member care (MCare), to equip them on how to provide MCare, and to encourage them to establish or strengthen their MCare Programs.
Pastor Romy A. Fernandez, current Officer-in-Charge of ACM and Head of Program Operations, shared the importance and Biblical foundations of MCare. An activity with the participants revealed several reasons why missionaries lose hope, such as:
- Lack of Financial Support/Resources
- Health Concerns (physical illness, emotionally unstable, mental)
- Cultural Barriers (language, culture, food, culture shock)
- Insufficient Member/Missionary Care (lack of follow up; prayer)
- Personal (homesickness, burnout, stress, lack of call and commitment, discouragement, persecution, inadequate training, loss of passion, unproductivity, and relational conflicts, etc.)
- Family/Marriage Problems
- Expired Permits/Visa
- Aggression/War/Threat to Safety
Part of the activities were the inventory and evaluation of the burn out and stress levels among the participants. These were facilitated by Pastor Bjorn Rodriguez, ACM Mindanao’s Training and Deployment Coordinator. The activities allowed the participants assess how are they doing in their personal and ministerial works.
Ms. Shalom Embalzado, the Administration and Missionary Care Coordinator for Mindanao talked about the need for a support team. Hence, she assigned the participants to craft their own Member Care Programs. The output of the discussion were 5 programs that each participant agreed to implement, namely: prayer, counselling, financial assistance, welcome fellowship, and partnership with ACM.
An inspirational message and challenge were shared by Dr. Derrick Thomas Thiessen, a missionary to Korea for 14 years. He placed emphasis on the significant and distinct roles of the body of Christ in mending the wounds and brokenness of a missionary especially when they make mistakes in their given assignments.
A workshop on Peer Debriefing was facilitated by Ms. Shalom. Here, the participants were taught the importance of debriefing, for whom it will be given, when it should be given, and how it should be given.
In the end, participants gained a better understanding of the importance and need for Member Care. Churches and partners should see this program as a well-spent investment to increase effectiveness and secure the holistic growth of our members and missionaries in the field and within our church.
By Shalom Embalzado, Admin & MCare Coordinator – Mindanao, Asian Center for Missions.