As an agency we want to see our personnel become resilient when faced with adversity and more and more effective in ministry, both within the home and to those served outside the home.
The summer of 1986 was a hard year for me. We had just finished our first term as cross-cultural workers and while on home assignment my husband began seminary. We decided not to return to the same field of service because of differences in ministry goals. Even if we had, there was a major upheaval in the government making our return difficult. That year I gave birth to our second child and was struggling with post-partum depression. I remember looking for help, especially with someone who could understand the cross-cultural aspects of my struggle. After calling around, I found no one who had cross-cultural training or experience to help. By God’s provision, a supportive pastor, an understanding doctor, and a community of believers offered me healing grace through spiritual and medical care. God used their encouragement to enable me to return to cross-cultural ministry. It wasn’t until years later though, through the help of those trained in member care, that I was able to understand the way serving overseas had played in my struggle. About the same time that I was searching for someone to help me, other mission agencies were beginning to recognize the need for the care of their cross-cultural workers. Member care as we know it today began to take form. In the 90’s a study based on a survey of cross-cultural workers from a variety of agencies concluded that preventable attrition could be significantly lowered if only 7% of resources were invested in the care of personnel. A book, Too Valuable to Lose, based on this data soon became available.
World Team has taken this data seriously.
What is the impetus of Global Member Care In World Team?
As an agency we want to see our personnel become resilient when faced with adversity and more and more effective in ministry, both within the home and to those served outside the home. We promote first and foremost care that comes from our Master. Right from the start we encourage all new workers to ground themselves in the gospel through the 6-week Gospel Foundations course. Also, we know that having a good theology of suffering is vital. Resiliency exercises have been developed to help apply them to life. We also want to see our members grow in mutual care coming from others on the field, as well as from those in the sending country. Finally, we want to promote proactive self-care where good physical and emotional habits are developed, not for selfish purposes but to enhance the service of others. WT provides a free assessment of the impact of cross-cultural stress (CSA) with trained coaches to promote this.
When special needs arise that require additional care, WT Global has organized a member care team to provide and help find resources, with a coordinator to oversee the care. Our WT Global Member Care team consists of counselors, TCK focused workers, medical experts, coaches, and those trained in child safety. Some of the services we offer as a mission include, counseling, personal debriefing, coaching and family (TCK) care. To determine the level of need and the most appropriate resources there is a protocol of care in place. It helps leaders, workers, sending centers and sending churches identify each of their roles, so they can provide care while supporting workers in need.
Knowing that we are limited in the care we can provide, WT Global Member Care is committed to finding resources outside the mission as well. We therefore seek to participate in and develop regional networks of care with other member care workers and centers. Initially global member care resources were provided and tailored for primarily western workers, but now are expanding to serve cross-cultural workers and national workers from all parts of the world.
The benefits of collaborating in these networks helps all of us sharpen our skills, gives us a fresh perspective and new approaches to care, and allows us to work together as a global body of Christ to encourage and care for those on the front lines.