Missionary Member Care
What do you think of when someone talks about “member care” in missions? For most of us, this sparks an image of a pastor or counselor flying out to Asia bringing wisdom and emotional support to workers who have walked through challenging times. This is an amazing part of supporting workers, but it’s only one small part of the ways we need to care for our workers in the field.
3 Minute Read
By James & Lisa Dougherty
In order to allow missionaries to serve as God has called them, we must remember that “member care” is more than just the obvious needs related to bringing others to Christ. Here are just a couple of the ways OMF offers practical care to members.
Part of our journey in missions has included several medical emergencies and surgeries that we didn’t have a chance to plan for in advance. These crisis times sometimes hit when we were traveling and didn’t even have access to hospitals and doctors we were familiar with. We have been most cared for by OMF medical advisors who walked us through these moments.
During one of our many moves, we landed in a new country without any money for set-up costs like renting an apartment and paying for language study bills. It took us many months to get this worked out and caused a huge amount of stress and failed attempts before we found a way that worked. This one poor experience helped us appreciate the crucial work our finance teams do every day to make sure funds are received, processed, and routed appropriately.
The Little Things Add Up
Maybe we’re just different in how we see things, but for us, the best way OMF has shown us member care through the years is through the hundreds of invisible things we end up taking for granted—services that are in place that allow us to focus on our ministries.
Member Care Today
How can we continue doing member care well? Most importantly, we want to provide the resources and support our workers need to be able to stay long-term in the really hard places to live. This is the only way we will ever see the task of sharing God’s hope completed.
This is done through providing the more familiar ways member care takes place, such as helping members in times of trauma or when there are mental health struggles, or when people feel isolated and need someone to talk to.
But, it is equally important to make sure we are providing the right kind of services for our workers and that the systems we have in place are actually serving our members.
Member care means:
- Workers get the money they need without building their own international routing system.
- Health insurance covers the needs they have and works in the countries where they live.
- Retirement plans allow them to invest in their future proactively.
- Workers have help communicating with the people who partner with their ministry.
- Supporting churches know how to help their workers.
- Workers have practical help and advice with moving logistics.
- Training is provided for each stage of ministry from pre-departure through language study, early church planting ministries, and leadership development.
- Medical support is available for emergencies, but also works proactively to prevent them.
. . . the list can go on and on.
We experienced so many of these forms of member care while we served in Asia, but we probably took them for granted more than we want to admit.
Starting to serve with the OMF U.S. team has opened our eyes to the amazing work the team does to care for each worker.
Our hope is that we serve our workers practically so they can be sustained for the long haul in the hard places. This is how we share hope with East Asia’s peoples.
We are both third culture kids with a foot in both North America and Asia. James is an aircraft mechanic and Lisa is a teacher, but we didn’t last too long in either of those jobs. Since 2006, we have spent most of our time in Asia serving together with the Asian church. We’re now in Denver as President and Co-National Directors for OMF International (U.S.).