Missionary Member Care: An Introduction

Download 421.86 Kb.
Size421.86 Kb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

Missionary Member Care:

An Introduction

Ronald L. Koteskey

Member Care Consultant

GO InterNational

© 2013

Ronald L. Koteskey

122 Lowry Lane

Wilmore, KY 40390




Permission is granted to copy and distribute

this book without charge and in its entirety.
Send it to anyone you believe may benefit

from reading it.

Please do NOT post this book anywhere else on the Internet.


Preface 5
1. What about Dorothy and Felix? 7
2. What is missionary member care? 16
3. Is missionary member care in the Bible? 23
4. What has missionary member care been like

since Bible times? 30
5. Why do we do missionary member care? 40
6. Who needs missionary member care? 48
7. Who does missionary member care? 56
8. How does a person become a missionary

member care provider? 62
9. How does a missionary get member care

if/when needed? 71
10. How and where is missionary member

care done? 77
11. When is missionary member care done? 85

12. What are the major areas covered in missionary

member care? 95
13. What are the ethical issues in missionary

member care? 109
14. What conferences are held about missionary

member care? 118
15. What resources for missionary member care

are available on the Internet? 126
16. What printed (or for E-readers) resources about

missionary member care are available? 133
17. What email lists or newsletters distribute

information about missionary member care? 140
18. What can ordinary laypersons do to provide

member care to their own missionaries? 145
Appendix A. What is in the major books

about missionary member care? 153

Other E-books by the Author 164

About the Author 166


The psychology faculty at Asbury University asked me to meet with them about developing a course on missionary member care, a course that could serve as an “anchor” course for a member care emphasis in the psychology major. At the end of the meeting I noted that, as far as I knew, no text book was available for such a course, but that I would like to write one.

The cover of Office 2007 for Dummies notes that the book is also “A Reference for the Rest of Us!” Likewise, this book has two purposes. First, it is primarily a text for an introductory course in missionary member care, but it is not only a college text. It is written at a level and in a style that should be easy reading for anyone who is interested in member care, such as missionaries interested in moving into a position in member care, mental health professionals, physicians, pastors, and anyone else who is considering becoming involved in member care.

This book is an E-book and most of the information about missionary member care has been written during the last quarter of a century, so much of that information is available online. Therefore, links are included whenever possible to elaborate on the information presented here. The reader can either just read the simplified material in this book or click on a link to the source of the material and read it in the original.

There is no need to read the chapters in this book in the order they appear. The chapters do not build on each other, but each one stands alone, such as the FAQ’s on a website. The chapter titles are the major questions I have received from people asking about serving in member care.

Years ago when I entered psychology, journal articles ended with a section titled “Summary.” Back then I found it helpful to read the summary first to see if the article contained information I wanted to learn. Later the Publication Manual moved the “summary” to the beginning of each article and called it the “abstract.” With this change I could read the article in the order presented rather than peeking at the end.

Each chapter in this book begins with a short summary or abstract of what is in the article so that readers can quickly determine whether or not the chapter is one they want to read in more detail. I am calling this first section “Short & Simple Summary.” Read this summary to find out if you want to read the chapter in detail. If you are not interested in more information, that is fine. If you want more information, you will find it in the chapter, and you can click on links in the chapter to find even more information on the Internet. Then each chapter ends with an invitation to email me suggestions to improve the chapter. Just click on my email address and send me a note.

I owe much to people who read the manuscript. John Powell, Paul Nessleroade, Art Nonneman, and Yvonne Moulton all made comments on the manuscript. I considered all of the suggestions each person made and followed most of them. Of course, I did not make all the changes they suggested, so I take full responsibility for any errors in the book.

Blessings on you as you read.

Chapter 1

What about Dorothy and Felix?
Short & Simple Summary
From the very first term of service in Acts 13-15 when one missionary quit and went home after a short time, missionaries have needed missionary member care. This became even more obvious when the two remaining missionaries would not even return to field together for a second term. This chapter tells about the first term of missionary service of the family of William Carey, often called the “father of modern missions.” As you read notice how this family functioned and try to pick out specific needs for member care—think about what could have been done to prevent problems and what could have been done to solve them when they occurred. Here are the topics covered in the chapter.
Dorothy as the Wife of a Shoemaker

Dorothy as the Wife of a Pastor

Felix as a Preacher’s Kid (PK)

Transition to the Field: 1793

Dorothy as the Wife of the “Father of Modern Missions”

Felix as a Missionary Kid (MK or TCK)

Felix as a Missionary

What about Dorothy and Felix?

If you want more detail and links to other sources, read on.


A good way to introduce missionary member care is by beginning with a well-documented account of a family serving cross-culturally more than 200 years ago at the beginning of the modern missionary movement. Dorothy was born into a farming family in England in 1756. Her family attended a small country church there in the village of Piddington.
Dorothy as the Wife of a Shoemaker
Dorothy met William, apprenticed to the village shoemaker, at church. Like most young women in her day, Dorothy could not read or write; however William read continually and became a prolific writer as well. All seemed to be going well when they married on June 10, 1781, just as the war with the thirteen colonies in America was coming to a close. Two and a half years later William and Dorothy inherited the shoemaking business when the shoemaker died, and their marriage seemed to be off to a good start. They were two Christian young people who grew up in Christian families, attended the same church, married, and set out to serve Christ in business in their village.
Dorothy as the Wife of a Pastor
However, things changed within a few years when William began preaching in village churches. Four years later (1785) they moved to Moulton where he became an ordained minister. Four years after that (1789) they moved to Leicester where he could teach school during the day, work as a shoemaker evenings, and preach seven times every two weeks. Even with all that work, the family struggled financially, at times coming close to starving. During this time they had six children, and two of those died at the age of two. Up to this point they were a rather “typical” struggling pastoral family.

However, William became more and more burdened for the “heathen” overseas as the years passed. In 1792 he published a pamphlet about the obligations of Christians to convert “heathens” in the different nations of the world. Later that year, he became a central figure in the formation of a new missionary sending agency. Soon William volunteered to go to India as a missionary, and he wanted to take Dorothy and their children with him.

Felix as a Preacher’s Kid (PK)

Felix was born in 1785, the year his parents moved to Moulton where William became an ordained pastor. In 1788 William and Dorothy had another son (William) followed in 1789 by yet another (Peter).

The family moved to Leicester in 1789 where they had a second daughter, Lucy who died before she was two years old (their first daughter, Ann had died at about two years of age in 1784). Felix, along with the rest of the family, found the loss of another child very difficult.

William supplemented his pastoral salary by teaching school, and Felix was one of his pupils. With his schedule of preaching, teaching, and his increasing interest in missions, William’s work schedule was very heavy.

Transition to the Field: 1793
Here are some events during the first half of 1793. These are not intended to cover everything that happened, but they were selected to show the lack of member care:

  • January 9: William and his friend John were appointed as the agency’s first missionaries.

  • January 16: Knowing that Dorothy was reluctant to go as a missionary, Andrew (representing the agency) met with a friend to lay plans to talk with Dorothy. She refused when they met with her.

  • February 1: France declared war on Britain.

  • March 17: William preached his last sermon in England.

  • March 26: Dorothy, William, and their three sons (Felix, William Jr., and Peter) said their goodbyes to each other, not knowing when (or even if) they would meet together again as a family.

  • April 4: William, John, and 8-year-old Felix departed on a ship to meet up with a convoy for India, but they were delayed six weeks on the Isle of Wight because of the war (Dorothy remained at home pregnant and with the other children).

  • About May 3: Dorothy gave birth to a son and named him Jabez (because I bore him in sorrow).

  • May 22: Still waiting for the convoy, William and John learned of a Danish ship soon to sail for India. William wanted to see if Dorothy would go.

  • May 24: After traveling all night, William, John, and Felix arrived for breakfast. They pled with Dorothy during the meal, but she still refused to go.

  • May 24: On their way to ask someone for more money, John suggested that they go back to talk to Dorothy, but William refused. John said he was going back alone. William said he could, but it was a waste of time.

  • May 24: John met with Dorothy and told her that “…her family would be dispersed and divided forever—she would repent of it as long as she lived…” Dorothy agreed to go to India on the condition that her sister come with them too. Dorothy and William then convinced Catharine to go with them, packed, sold other possessions, said goodbye to family and friends, and raised money for travel in less than 24 hours.

  • May 25: The whole family, including 3-month-old Jabez left for Dover!

  • May 30: Representing the agency, Andrew wrote a fund-raising letter saying, that William’s “heart is happy, having his family with him. An objection against the Mission is removed, of its separating a man from his wife…” Andrew went on to say that if William had not “taken his family he must have come home again in a few years. Now there will be no need of that. He will live and die in the midst of 100 millions of heathens…”

Andrew also concluded that God had prevented the departure so that William’s family might accompany him so that “all reproaches on that score might be prevented.”

John was pleased. William’s heart was happy. Andrew, the agency, and supporters were satisfied.

What about Dorothy and Felix?
Dorothy as the Wife of the “Father of Modern Missions”
The couple thought they barely had time to catch the ship, but it was more than two weeks late. June 13, 1793, they sailed from England with four children under the age of eight, one of them only six weeks old. They sailed for nearly five months without a single stop in a port and arrived in India on November 11, 1793. During the few days remaining in that year they lived in two places, first in Calcutta where Dorothy and Felix became ill with dysentery (which lasted a full year) and then in the Portuguese community of Bandel.

1794 was a year of moving, loss, and stress. In January they lived in Manicktullo which William thought was too civilized. During February-April they began to build a home in the Sunderbunds which was characterized as a “malarious uncultivated district” in which tigers had killed 12 men during the previous year. In May they began a three-week river trip to their next home, but Dorothy’s sister remained to marry a man she met there. June-July they lived with acquaintances in Malda, and William commuted to Mudnabatti to work. In August the whole family moved again to be near William’s work. Their son Peter (age 5) died there in October. Following are quotes from William’s letters and journals during the next 12 years.

  • 1795: “You know that Dorothy sent a letter express yesterday to me…” (in the letter she accused William of being “unfaithful” to her).

  • 1796: “If he goes out of his door by day or by night, she follows him; and declares in the most solemn manner that she has catched [sic] him with his servants, with his friends, with Mrs. Thomas, and that he is guilty every day and every night.”

  • 1797: “Some attempts on my life have been made…. I am sorely distressed to see my dear children before whom the greatest indecencies and most shocking expressions of rage are constantly uttered.”

  • 1798: “Dorothy is as wretched as insanity can make her almost and often makes all the family so too.”

  • 1799: “…such a time of wandering up and down and perplexity as we have never had.”

  • 1800: “Dorothy is stark mad.”

  • 1801: “She has been cursing tonight in the most awful manner, till weary with exhaustion she is gone to sleep.”

  • 1802: “Dorothy is quite insane, and raving, and is obliged to be constantly confined.”

  • 1803: “Dorothy is as bad as ever.”

  • 1804: “Dorothy is if anything worse…”

  • 1805: “Her insanity increases, and is of that unhappy cast which fills her with continual rage or anxiety.”

  • 1806: “Poor Dorothy grows worse, she is a most distressing object.”

  • 1807: “My poor wife remains a melancholy spectacle of mental imbecility.”

Much more is available in James Beck’s (1992) excellent book, Dorothy Carey, published by Baker Books.
Felix as a Missionary Kid (MK or TCK)
Within days of arriving in Calcutta on November 11, 1793, Felix developed the “bloody flux” (dysentery), and it lasted many months. In fact, after the repeated family moves noted above, Felix still had dysentery when they arrived in Mudnabatti on August 4, 1794. His brother, Peter, died after a two-week illness on October 11, 1794. William could find no one to make a coffin, no one to carry Peter to the grave because both Hindus and Muslims have many taboos about such things. They could find no one to help within seven or eight miles, but finally two of the “lowest of the low” did help. Here are more quotes from various sources as Dorothy’s psychosis began and the children were caught between her wild accusations and William’s denials.

  • 1797: William: “I am sorely distressed to see my dear children before whom the greatest indecencies and most shocking expressions of rage are constantly uttered and who are constantly taught to hate their father.”

  • 1798: William: “Poor Mrs. C. (Dorothy) is as wretched as insanity can make her and often makes all the family so too.”

  • 1798: William: “Mine (children) are very badly off for want of a school.”

  • 1799: Printer William Ward arrived to set up printing of translations, took Felix on as an assistant, and met with Felix and his brother for Bible study.

  • 1800: William Ward: “We keep her from table. She has got an unfounded idea that I beat the boys; and she calls me all the vile names she can think of.”

  • 1802: Joshua Marshman writing about confronting Felix: “…his two eldest sons were left in great measure without control; hence obstinacy and self-will took a very deep root in their minds.”

  • During the following years, William Ward had a lasting influence on Felix.

Felix as a Missionary

  • 1807: Felix (21 years old) sent as missionary to Burma.

  • 1808: While visiting in India Felix’s wife died. William took care of their three children and urged Felix to remain a missionary in Burma.

  • 1809: William: “I wrote you (his agency) to interest yourself in sending out a young person as wife for my son Felix.”

  • 1811: Felix married again and had two children by his second wife. All three of them died in a boating accident.

  • 1814: William: “I mourn for Felix in silence, and still tremble to think what may be the next stroke.”

  • 1815: William: “He (Felix) is shriveled up from missionary to ambassador…”

  • 1816: William: “His (Felix’s) departure from God has nearly broken my heart. May God restore him.”

  • 1816: William: “Felix has become an awful profligrate.”

  • 1817: William: “Felix’s extravagances had stripped me of all I had.”

  • Felix married two more times and his fourth wife outlived him.

  • 1822: Felix died (36 years old) from cholera or high fever.

What about Dorothy and Felix?
During their years in India the family moved from one site to another. They had little or no contact with other Europeans during that time. They had no Indian converts in the first seven years, though some expatriates from other countries were converted. They were often in danger from flooding rivers, tigers, jackals and other things. They repeatedly had many diseases including dysentery, malaria, and other parasites. Several times they actually thought they were going to die.

On December 12, 1807, William wrote a colleague that “…it pleased God to remove my wife by death. She had been in a state of the most distressing derangement for these last twelve years…” Dorothy, the woman who had expected to live the life of a wife of a shoemaker in England, died at the age of 51 after 14 miserable years in India.

Dorothy was the wife of William Carey, widely acclaimed to be the “father of modern missions.” No one can question the commitment, dedication, effectiveness, and discipline of William Carey—but what about Dorothy? What about their marriage relationship? How did this marriage of the “father of modern missions” influence those of missionaries that followed? What about Felix, the oldest child of this first missionary couple? Did William learn anything from these sad endings? Did mission agencies learn anything from them?
What member care needs do you see?
What attempts at member care do you see?
What about William? Imagine what he is going through.
We will return to this story repeatedly in future chapters as we consider missionary member care issues.

Chapter 2

What is Missionary Member Care?

Short & Simple Summary
Although some missionary member care has been done since the days of Paul in the New Testament, the modern movement has developed primarily since the 1980s. In this chapter we note that the term was not even used much in the 1980s. In the 1990s two terms “missionary care” and “member care” emerged as nearly synonymous. After the turn of the century most definitions included something about preparing missionaries to serve and helping them develop so they will have effective and sustainable ministries. Here are the topics covered in the chapter.
Missionary Care (1992)

Doing Member Care Well (2002)

Global Member Care Network (2012)

What did Jesus do?
If you want more detail and links to other sources, read on.


Many words can be used to describe what takes place in missionary member care. Some of those words are friendship, encouragement, affirmation, help, and fellowship as well as sharing, communicating, visiting, guiding, comforting, counseling, and debriefing. All of these, and more, are facets of member care given by people who understand the special needs of missionaries.

Of course, all Christians have the care given by the Holy Spirit, the one whom Jesus promised in John 14-16. Translated “comforter,” “counselor,” or “advocate,” the Greek word (paraclete) literally means one called or sent to assist another, someone who has been invited to stand by our side.

In addition to the Holy Spirit, God often uses other people to come alongside and help individuals, whether they are missionaries or in other vocations. Most people living in their passport countries have other individuals they can call on for help, whether pastor, counselor, or friends in a small group—such as a Bible study group.

Among missionaries who are members of some mission agency or church but serving in another culture, the term used for this process of having someone come alongside to offer help is “member care.” This may be something routine such as regularly scheduled visits from a pastor asking, “How are you doing?” Or it may be as rare as a psychologist rushing to get to a missionary within a couple days for a trauma debriefing to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.

During the late 20th century, missionary member care was often called just “missionary care.” That definition was rather self-explanatory. Many people gave a one-sentence definition, followed by a sentence or two to expand on it. In 1988 Kelly and Michele O’Donnell titled their first major book Helping Missionaries Grow: Readings in Mental Health and Missions. Neither “missionary care” nor “member care” appeared in any part, section, or title of any of the contents of the book.

The entire book is available free at:

Missionary Care (1992)
Four years later Kelly O’Donnell titled his 1992 book Missionary Care and added the subtitle, Counting the Cost for World Evangelization. In the Introduction he said that missionary care had emerged, and it was “devoted entirely to the care of mission personnel.”

He went on to say, “Member care, a term which is frequently used to describe this field, refers to the commitment of resources for the development of missionary personnel by mission agencies, sending churches and other missions related groups. It is basically synonymous with missionary care, and I have chosen to use both terms interchangeably throughout this volume.” (pp. 1-2). This statement was followed by a longer paragraph unpacking the definition. The terms appeared about equally in the book.

  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page