I first heard about Care Teams when I came to CCEA. Wow!! They really love their missionaries! was what I thought. I wasn’t entirely sure what all a care team entailed, but the concept alone showed me how much CCEA believed it was important to support their missionaries.
Being on the field, it’s easy to be “out of sight, out of mind”… It’s natural– you’re not involved in people’s daily lives and life does indeed go on. It’s not really anyone’s fault. When I was on the field, I only regularly heard from a hand full of people, most of those my family members. While my life went on as I adapted to a new way of living, eating, talking, relating and even thinking– I still had moments where I just wanted something familiar.
It’s not easy. I don’t say that for pity but for understanding. I’ve heard from a lot of missionaries who get homesick, who struggle. Can they be blamed? Is it weakness? No. It’s normal and natural. It comes with the job. The Lord does give grace, but that doesn’t mean that everything is always peachy-keen and top-of-the-roller-coaster exciting in a different country. Losing touch with friendships that were once close hurts… there’s a melancholy feeling every time you see a couple getting engaged (to someone you haven’t met), married or experiencing the joy of a new baby. Especially when you’re a week or month behind on the news! Words posted on a Facebook wall can only go so far.
I digress. Care Teams. As we’ve been moving forward toward Japan, we’ve had this grand opportunity to establish a Care Team. The Lord has brought people around us and has shown both them and us how we can work together to forward the Kingdom Cause.
Here are some things that the Care Team does (as we’ve discovered!):
-Helps raise support and awareness for the mission– they’re advocates!
-Offers prayer and encouragement, both of which are VITAL
-Becomes a connection and voice between our home “body of Christ” and the field
-Communicates with the body of Christ what’s going on so that we don’t become out of sight, out of mind
-Offers logistical help with records, sending out newsletters, prayer requests, needs awareness, etc.
There’s a LOT of things that the missionary has to do– learn a new language and culture, raise support to provide for real daily needs, maintain communication, send out lots of mailings, keep an online presence in order to minister to those at home, etc., keep financial records (we don’t get a break on taxes! It’s more complicated for us!) and a myriad of other logistical things that take place on the field (try paying your rent on a multi-step ATM in Japanese only or trying to fill out paperwork at a doctor’s office in a foreign language). So, to have a team that helps with that means that we can focus our time on ministry and be more effective with it.
We feel SO blessed to have such a great Care Team– who really get behind the vision for reaching Japan with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Honestly, it takes off SO much pressure of things that we have to do. Not only that, they are full of great ideas, are pretty funny and are hard workers, so it’s a joy to have such a partnership.
Partnership– it’s really an opportunity for people to get their hand in on the work of foreign missions from their own living room. There are logistical things that YOU can do that will have an impact not only on your missionary’s life, but really on the ministry that’s being done in another country. It’s a way to serve internationally while staying placed locally.
So join a Care Team and find a way to serve. If there aren’t any care teams established already at your church, start one! The book “Serving as Senders” by Neil Pirolo is really where the concept comes from. If that’s a bit much to begin with, commit to sending your missionary a weekly email or monthly email to encourage them and maintain communication. I guarantee you’ll be a bigger blessing than you can imagine.