ABC Header

CARING

FOR OUR GLOBAL WORKERS

by Murray Cornelius

The pulpit pedestal isolates. It tends to elevate us to a place we could never maintain and still be ourselves. There is the sense that if we struggle we are weak, and who wants to follow a weak leader?
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).

Let me begin with a confession! I recently called the house of one of our global worker families a “dump.” Not a particularly nice thing to say. In my defence, I was not referring to the inside of their apartment, which was very nice—a true home. But it is located in a city that many recognize as one of the dirtiest and poorest in the world. Not only that, but God has provided this “nice” apartment in a big building, a former tannery that still smells and is located in one of the foulest smelling and ugliest parts of town. I wondered where they were taking me as we drove through some tight laneways and pools of standing water on the way “home.” To their credit, they laughed about my “dump” comment and still tease me to this day. The truth is, they have been called to dwell among the poor and needy in a place that truly is a dump.

How can we help them?
As I think about this choice family, I realize that they live every day with things that no longer are a major concern to me. Four years removed from living in Zimbabwe, I have quickly forgotten the things that used to be everyday issues. First, they face security concerns that are of only marginal concern for me in Canada. The extent of the poverty, combined with religious and cultural clashes, makes them daily targets for violence and theft. Second, they don’t have a nice neighbourhood community school for their kids to attend. When college time comes, they will have to bring them back to Canada, leave them here, and then cope with significant separation in time and distance. Third, while they are working hard to learn the language, they are constantly faced with language limitations and cultural differences which make life that much more difficult. It is hard work just to live and move and care for the basics of life.

On top of this, they live in a country where spiritual darkness and oppression are palpable every day. It is easy to slip into despondency and despair in a spiritual environment that is so heavy. That nation is a religious hub for both Hinduism and Islam while also being a centre for communism. In the midst of this, these choice global workers are called to rescue children from the streets and to bring hope and care to commercial sex workers. And, of course, let me not forget that they have to raise their own funding so they can continue to be where God wants them to serve.

How can we help them?
What can we do to support and care for these workers?
I don’t remember hearing much about “member care” when I was growing up. There didn’t appear to be a whole discipline dedicated to helping cross-cultural families with adjustment and personal development. However, in recent years, these matters have become an accepted biblical responsibility and part of our core strategy. We also know that if we do member care well, we will enable our global workers to do missions well.
Here is a list of many things we can do to care for these dedicated workers.

  • We can teach them team building techniques and help them strengthen their interpersonal skills.
  • We can provide educational alternatives for their children and supplement family life with retreats and breaks from life in the “dump.”
  • We can prioritize language learning.
  • We can offer professional counselling services when needed as well as pastoral and peer counselling.
  • We can come alongside their kids during those difficult transitions in life.
  • We can bring some assistance to the fund-raising process and share the burden.
  • We can seek to ensure they are constantly visited and supported by our “home team.”

While I can list these and many other tools of care, the truth is that the most important support we can give them is to enable them to help themselves. We must help them take personal responsibility for their spiritual growth, family life and professional development. This art of self-management is the single most important element in leading a mature and full life as a cross-cultural global worker. The demands and pressures of cross-cultural involvement, the high mobility, the burden of fundraising, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships place many of our global workers under unusual strain and tension. In order to survive, they need to learn to strengthen themselves in the Lord.

They need a …

Bedrock faith that their Father in heaven will look after them.
The Lord’s Prayer consists of six petitions: three expressing passion for the glory of God (His name, kingdom and will), followed by three expressing our dependence on His grace (for our daily bread, the forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance from evil).

The security and the supply for our global workers will not come from a “member care” manual or from the pastoral care provided by a regional director or a Canadian pastor (although these are vitally important to the health and well-being of our global workers). They come from their Father in heaven who loves them, who called them and who watches over them. If they look to people for their safety and needs, they will not be resting on the right foundation.

This posture of dependence that Jesus pointed His disciples toward is a daily discipline of meeting with God and knowing not just that He is there, but that He is there for them as a Father. We are told not to worry about our lives, for He cares for us.

We must help them to trust in their Father!

They need an …

Inward simplicity that produces the amazing spirit of contentment
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13).

Thomas Kelly noted that “life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming.”1

Jesus invites us to break free from the love of money and things and live in joyous trust in Him. We are invited to live a life where everything we have is received as a gift and cared for by God, and everything is also generously available to others. This radical simplicity and generosity of life and spirit can lead to contentment in every situation. It overcomes the “dump” that our Lord may have called us to.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).

They need …

No doubt regarding their calling for cross-cultural ministry
The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”
(Jeremiah 1:4-5).

When loneliness, financial pressure or separation from family begin to weigh our global workers down, they need to return to the motivating force that led them to their current circumstances in the first place.

We are called to be about the Father’s business. Jesus taught us first to pray for the glory of the Father’s name, will and kingdom. When we seek first the kingdom of God, all these things will be added unto us. Of most value will be the added peace and assurance that come to the yielded life.

How do we enable them to help themselves?
The question we all must ask is, “How do we grow in Christ and become more like Him?” Jesus was rarely stressed; when He needed strength, He went to the Father. Growth in Christ requires the discipline of a plan.

Help them to develop a “wellness plan.”

Maturity and strength in the Lord will not just happen. They require the discipline of a plan that is then worked in such a way that we will “continue to live in him, be rooted and built up in him, be strengthened in the faith as [we] were taught, and [always overflow] with thankfulness.”

We can help them develop a living, dynamic “wellness” plan that does not call for perfection, but for growth; that acknowledges the call in God’s Word to be always growing towards maturity in Christ.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:28-29).

We have to labour with all our energy to grow towards perfection in Christ. There are basic fundamental disciplines that must be exercised daily if we are going to grow and mature.
So we will call all our global workers to plan to grow and mature in Christ.

Hold them accountable to their own plan.
It is always easy to make a plan. Working that plan is the real challenge. A “wellness” plan that is ignored will only lead to frustration. We all need people to hold us accountable to spiritual maturity. We must place ourselves voluntarily in relationships with mentors and coaches who will ask the tough questions.

  • Are you free from bitterness?
  • What do you do when temptation is knocking at your door?
  • What have you read lately that stretched your mind and spirit?
  • Are you keeping the practice of the Sabbath, and have you taken adequate rest and holidays for yourself and your family?
  • Is your ministry producing the fruit that you hope for and desire?

If no one is asking the hard questions, then our heart—which is deceitful above all things—will tell us what we want to hear. Growth to maturity will be a myth, not a reality.

So we will call them to account against their own plan.

Life can be traumatic for our global workers! Many live in unpleasant parts of our global community. Many are exposed daily to tensions and pressures that we do not face. We cannot always be there for them.

So we will help them go deeper into a relationship with a Father in heaven who loves and cares for them. When the going gets really tough, there is really only one source of strength.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures …

NOTE
1 Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1941).
Stacks Image 455
MURRAY CORNELIUS
IS THE ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS.
Stacks Image 70