Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 6, no. 1 (February 2015)

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Resources for Missionary Care

Dottie Schulz

Introduction

“Missionary care is simply the application of the biblical ‘one-another’ concepts to the context of missionary life.”1 In Churches of Christ, missionary care is the responsibility of the stewarding and supporting churches.2 Care means that the church will provide, as much as it is able, the things that would allow its missionary the necessary tools, education, training, and equipping that would make him or her an effective disciple maker in rigorous cross-cultural works.3 Missionary care is ongoing. It begins pre-field with the commitment of a church to support a missionary and continues through reentry and/or retirement post-field. Ideally care will be provided for every supported missionary or missionary family—and sometimes for other individuals or families on a team, or often even for converts. The purpose of care is to develop resilience, skills, and virtue, which are the means to helping missionaries stay healthy and effective in their work. Care involves both developing inner resources (such as perseverance and stress tolerance) and providing external resources (such as team building, logistical support, and skill training).4 Missionary care allows missionaries to remain on the field long-term and to fulfill the purpose for their going: to complete the task of the Great Commission so that every tribe, every people, ever tongue, and every race may learn the good news of Christ.

Missionary care resources can be organized roughly according to four domains: pre-field, on-field, home-assignment (furlough), and post-field care. Naturally, many resources address more than one of these. Organizations that specialize in various dimensions of missionary care are therefore the best place to begin.

Organizations Offering Multiple Resources

Missions Resource Network (http://mrnet.org) in Bedford, Texas

  • Pre-field resources
  • Assessment and training for missionaries
  • Workshops on missionary care entitled “Offering Your Best to Your Missionaries”
  • On-field resources
  • Short term help, resources, and referrals for missionaries
  • Parents of Missionaries Workshops
  • Home-assignment resources
  • Renewals for furloughing missionaries (in collaboration with Great Cities Missions)
  • Post-field resources
  • Renewals for returning missionaries (in collaboration with Great Cities Missions)
  • Individualized debriefing
  • Reentry Workshop, for stewarding and supporting churches
  • Weekend retreats for adult third culture kids/adult missionary kids
  • Publications
  • Online articles, links, and videos
  • A monthly newsletter, The Messenger

Great Cities Missions (http://greatcities.org) in Addison, Texas (for missionaries desiring to work in the Latin world)

  • Pre-field resources
  • Assessment and training
  • On-field resources
  • “Continent Care Connection,” renewals for South American, Middle American and Mexican missionaries and national workers, both men and women, on alternate years in October in Brazil
  • Home-assignment resources
  • Renewals for furloughing missionaries (in collaboration with Missions Resource Network)

Mission Training International (https://mti.org) in Palmer Lake, Colorado

  • Pre-field resources
  • A four-week program that includes training in cross-cultural personal skills, how to learn a new language, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills.
  • Children and adolescents have a comparable program designed just for them.5
  • Post-field resources
  • A reentry retreat for returned missionaries
  • Debriefing for children and adolescents
  • Publications
  • Missionary care texts can be purchased on the website

InterMission Ministry (http://intermissionministry.org) in Edmond, Oklahoma

  • On-field resources
  • InterNational InterMission, an annual renewal event held in various countries
  • Post-field resources
  • ReEntry InterMission, two-day sessions that help returning missionaries adjust to the United States
  • Global Reunion, a camp for 13- to 20-year-old third culture kids on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University, designed to facilitate family unity and bonding, including sessions for the parents and younger siblings of campers.

In addition to the resources and recommendations these organizations can provide, a variety of others deserve mention.

Pre-Field Care Resources

The provision of spiritual and psychological assessment, along with missions training, is the fundamental component of pre-field care.

On-Field Care Resources

Missionary Self-Care and Mutual Care

Self-care is the basic ingredient of well-being and longevity. Missionaries should especially take care of themselves spiritually.

Missionaries should stay informed about the political situation in their location and always register with their embassy.

  • US citizens, for example, should use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program: A Service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (https://step.state.gov/step)

Other services can also help churches and missionaries stay informed about possible violence that might require evacuation. Daily reports can be obtained from sites such as:

On-Field Renewals

  • Come before Winter Renewals (http://comebeforewinter.org/renewals) offer missionary women and national workers who speak English two women’s renewals a year in different locations throughout the world.
  • At Thrive: Empowering Global Women (http://thriveministry.org/retreats/our-retreats), “women are ministered to holistically—spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Our retreats provide a safe place for women to be themselves and share their unique challenges outside of their church and agency.”

Resources Available Worldwide

Children’s Education Options

A number of sites provide explanations of primary and secondary education options for missionary children.

One recognized option for online secondary schooling is:

For study at the university level without earning credit, free online college courses are available.

Home Assignment Care Resources

Retreat Locations

Various organizations offer missionaries retreats at little to no cost. These are times of spiritual refreshment rather than just vacation, but missionaries, with permission from the sponsoring organization, may choose to participate in extracurricular activities.

Residential Counseling Programs

  • Link Care (http://linkcare.org) in Fresno, California, offers specialized Christian professional care for missionaries, including individual therapy, family therapy, pastoral counseling, as well as training and reentry debriefing.
  • Marble Retreat (http://marbleretreat.org) in Marble, Colorado, is in an interdenominational Christian Counseling Center. Their eight-day program of individual and group counseling is led by professional counselors.
  • Alongside (http://alongsidecares.net) in Richland, Michigan, offers retreats led by a caring team of licensed professionals who bring years of practical ministry experience to their work.
  • Heart Stream (http://heartstreamresources.org) in Liverpool, Pennsylvania, offers licensed Christian counseling to missionaries and programs of restoration.

Post-Field Missionary Care Resources

MK Reentry Retreats

  • Mu Kappa International (http://mukappa.org) “exists to encourage missionary kids, multi-cultural, and international students in their cross-cultural transitions to foster meaningful relationships with God, family, and others.”
  • Interaction International (http://interactionintl.org/transition.asp) is “a catalyst and a resource working cooperatively in the development of programs, services and publications to provide and contribute to an ongoing flow of care that meets the needs of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and internationally mobile families.” Interaction offers Transition Seminars for missionary kids.

Recommended Missionary Care Websites

Missionary Care Resources

Missionary Kids

Facebook Groups

Appendix

An Abbreviated List of Counseling Resources Associated with Churches of Christ for Missionaries and Their Stewarding Churches in the United States

Stephen Allison, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Associate Professor and Director of the Robert and Mary Ann Hall Chair of Psychology and Intercultural Studies, Abilene Christian University; Abilene, Texas (allisons@acu.edu)

Dan Altman, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Private practice; Fort Worth, Texas (danielaltman@hotmail.com)

Clifton E. Davis, EdD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Private practice; Dallas, Texas (dr.cdavis@therapistservices.com)

Mark DeYoung, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Specialty is cross-cultural, cross-racial adoption; Fort Worth, Texas (drmark@deyoungconsulting.com)

Mark Gomez, MEd – Licensed Professional Counselor

  • Counselor trained in trauma debriefing, Rapha; Irving, Texas (mgomez@rapha.info)

Dale Hawley, PhD – Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Associate Director for Missionary Care, Missions Resource Network; Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Menomonie, Wisconsin (dale.hawley@mrnet.org)

Cathy Hernbeck, MS – Licensed Psychological Examiner

  • Brentwood, Tennessee (cathyhernbeck@bellsouth.net)

Jeff Holland, MS – Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Ten-year veteran missionary in Togo, West Africa; Marriage and Family Therapist, Pioneer Bible Translators; Dallas, Texas (jeff.holland@pbti.org)

Kenneth Hobby, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Harding University; Searcy, Arkansas (khobby@harding.edu)

Rebecca K. Holton, PhD – Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor; Mental Health Practitioner

  • Director for Missionary Care, Great Cities Missions; Addison, Texas (bholton@greatcities.org)

Chris Johnson, MS – Licensed Professional Counselor

  • Director of Missionary Care, Adventures in Missions, Sunset Church of Christ; Lubbock, Texas (Mexico4Jesus@hotmail.com)

Gordon MacKinnon, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Professor of Psychology; Chair, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences; Clinical Director, Psychology and Counseling Center, Rochester College; Rochester Hills, Michigan (gmackinnon@rc.edu)

David McAnulty, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Abilene Christian University; Abilene, Texas (david.mcanulty@acu.edu)

Tom Moore, PhD – Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Airline Church of Christ; Benton, Louisiana (ntmooremft@bellsouth.net)

Mike Parker, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Anchor Point Psychological Services; Little Rock, Arkansas (http://anchorpoint.net)

Eddie Parish, PhD – Marriage and Family Therapist

  • The Parish Hermitage; St. Amant, Louisiana (phermitage2@gmail.com)

Dorris Schulz, PhD – Marriage and Family Therapist; Professional Counselor; Mental Health Practitioner

  • Director for Missionary Care, Missions Resource Network; Bedford, Texas (dottie.schulz@mrnet.org)

Vann Rackley, PhD – Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, Harding University; Searcy, Arkansas (rackley@harding.edu)

Marilyn Stinson, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Private Practice; Arlington, Texas (marilyn.stinson@gmail.com)

Brian Stogner, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Professor of Psychology and Executive Director, Health and Behavioral Sciences Institute, Rochester College, Rochester Hills, Michigan (bstogner@rc.edu)

Ben Walker, MS – Licensed Professional Counselor

  • Private Practice, Lubbock, Texas (806-798-8855)

Gary Walker, PhD – Clinical Psychologist

  • Private Practice, Lubbock, Texas (806-798-8855)

Dottie Schulz is Director for Missionary Care at Missions Resource Network. She served with her late husband, Tom, as a missionary in Amsterdam from 1962 to 1971 and 1972 to 1977. Dottie earned her MS in Human Development and the Family and her PhD in Community and Human Resources, both from the University of Nebraska. Her dissertation was on missionary reentry. She holds licensure from the State of Nebraska Department of Health as a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner, Certified Professional Counselor, and Certified Marriage and Family Therapist. Dottie has worked as adjunct faculty in the Department of Human Development and the Family at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and served as Assessment Director of the Human Resources Management Program at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, where she was also Associate Professor of Family Therapy and Human Services/Psychology. Dottie had worked at York College in York, Nebraska, before earning her doctorate and returned there in 1991, where she was Professor of Psychology and Family Studies and Director of the Cornhusker Center for Human Development until coming to Missions Resource Network in 2004.

2 This article is written with a congregational model of missionary care in mind, particularly that of Churches of Christ.

3 Kelly O’Donnell, “An Agenda for Member Care in Frontier Missions,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 9, no. 3 (July 1992): 108–11.

4 Ibid.

5 This is highly recommended for older adults and families in middle years with older children who have had no cross-cultural experience.

6 Necessity for hidden missionaries and missionaries working in dangerous places.