Counselor to Missionaries

August 19, 2013

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“Oh, what a need for what you’re planning to do!”  That’s the typical response I hear when someone learns of an exciting new ministry I’m starting.  Technically it’s part of member care,  (Member Care is the ongoing preparation and taking care of missionaries for strong personal lives and effective ministries.)   Not that member care hasn’t already been going on, but it’s new to me.  The question I have is why aren’t there more counselors doing what I’m doing?  When I put it together in the form of a job description, I begin to understand why not.

 

Member care requires a lot of travel.

I will be taking 4-6 trips a year to various places in the world.  I like to travel and I love to get to know people in the areas where they live and work.  The trips will not include all the comforts of home but I will experience how a lot of different people manage.

 

Member care requires a lot of counseling experience.

After 37+ years of counseling, I feel pretty comfortable helping people express their concerns.  I can listen non-judgmentally while discerning deeper issues.  People who are struggling don’t need as much advise or criticism as they need encouragement and clarification of issues.  They need to see how their behaviors impact others as well as how others impact them.   Generally speaking, we tend to evaluate others on the basis of their behaviors while we evaluate ourselves on the basis of our intentions.  What a wonderful opportunity to put my experience to work in the challenging situations involving individuals, couples and groups in conflict overseas where they are feeling stressed and alone.

 

Member care requires cross-cultural flexibility.

Having taught cross-cultural counseling and providing counseling in several different countries, I’ve discovered that a lot of things that we assume to be true here in the US do no fit in other cultures.  When I was in Zanzibar, for example, I discovered that there is no word for “depression” in Swahili.  It turns out that in their interwoven corporate society, they don’t experience depression like we do.  They help each other out of their down times.  We tend to push our rugged individualism beyond the limits of our abilities to cope.  Some places respond to stories, some to small group interaction, while others to applied Bible passages.    This leads to a fourth requirement that tends to filter out a lot of people.

 

Member care requires a deep knowledge of Scripture plus training in counseling. 

What a blessing it’s been for me over the years to see the ideas taken from my PhD in counseling turn into applications of Bible truths that I learned while getting my ThM in New Testament studies at Dallas Seminary.  The Bible is truth, but sometimes it’s hard for us to understand how to apply it.  Psychology seeks to apply principles in a practical way, but isn’t always anchored in truth.  How exciting to see the truth of God show itself in cross-cultural, practical and trans-historical timeless ways.

 

Member care requires submission to the authority and structure of a mission organization.

East-West Ministries, International has been so gracious to make a place for me among their missionaries so I can work on a team.  The job that needs to be accomplished is too big for one person or a small group.  East-West Ministries has missionaries in 40 countries and their vision calls for adding 200 more missionaries in the next five years!  That will require a lot of screening, training, developing, supporting and encouraging.  My first assignment may be to train counselors in China.

 

Member care takes a lot of money.

As a missionary, I’ll need to raise financial support, both one-time gifts and regular monthly contributions to pay for one-month’s living expenses (I cut back my Dallas Seminary contract to only 11 months) and for all the trips plus administrative expenses.   Will you consider committing to a monthly contribution?  All contributions are tax-deductible.

To contribute on-line, click here.  East-West has made it very easy.

I would very much appreciate your support in this important endeavor, both in the form of prayer and finances, however large of small.  Many, many missionaries don’t make it for more than a few years because their adjustments are more than they can bear.  My hope is that my encouragement and perspective will strengthen them in continuing with the Lord’s work.

 

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Helping Children Overcome Sickness with Good Nutrition

August 12, 2013

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Finding good people doing good things and showcasing them.  That’s what my blog is turning to.  Last month I met a remarkable couple doing wonderful things for children and their parents.  So turn away from the bad news on CNN for a moment and read about their story.

ImageBrian and Bonnie Hershey are dedicating their lives to improving the lives of children in remarkably compatible ways.  Spiritually and socially, they have served military teens and their families in Germany and Italy.  Now they’re back in the States for Brian to pursue a Th.M. (Master of Theology degree) at Dallas Theological Seminary.  After graduation in May 2014, they are looking forward to going back overseas to continue serving military youth through Youth For Christ: Military Youth Ministry and Club Beyond.  Meanwhile, Bonnie spearheads a business from her home to help parents find solutions to their childrens’ health problems through good nutrition.  She invites people to check out her approach with some skepticism because there are a lot of “flaky” sales people out there.  She’s very confident of the trustworthiness of her product and training.  I’m inclined to agree with her confidence.

Here’s the point.

  • Many health issues today are the result of poor diet, nutrition and exercise (40% of calories consumed by kids today are devoid of nutrients, and high in fat & sugar)
  • When the body gets the key nutrients it needs, it has a remarkable way of healing itself.
  • Her goal is to become a worldwide solutions provider for parents looking for natural solutions to common health problems.
  • On her website, parents will find dozens of helpful articles and resources on kids nutrition, healthy recipes, and gain access to a unique three-step process toward optimal health.

Check her out.

There’s nothing selfish about this couple.  They are devoted to the Lord God with a strong personal faith and are devoting their lives to improving the health and well being of kids around the world.   Meanwhile, Brian writes a blog called “Right Lane Reflections.”  You see, Brian is a part-time truck driver and school bus driver.  Both the cab of his truck and his blog provide opportunities to reflect on life.

These are people you would do well to get to know.  Simply meeting them and listening to what they have to say will enrich you.  Check them out.   If you would like to support the work that Brian and Bonnie are doing to impact the lives of young people,  click here. They would greatly appreciate your financial and prayer support during this season of professional development!

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By the way, they have three very healthy children of their own.