Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Multi-Sectoral Member Care: Engaging Our World as Global Integrators

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Multi-Sectoral Member Care: Engaging Our World as Global Integrators

Article excerpt

How can we build on the substantial foundations of member care as we pursue new opportunities for impacting our needy world? We address this important question through the framework of Global Integration (GI) and multi-sectoral member care. GI is a framework for linking our integrity, skills, and values in order to address the major issues in our world. We present five strategic areas for connecting and contributing across sectors in member care as "global integrators." These areas include engaging our world via: the member care field; international issues; the humanitarian, development, and other sectors; global mental health; and faith-based partnerships. We finish by describing seven indicators for involvement as global integrators and a sample GI template for multi-sectoral member care. We encourage colleagues to continue the emphasis on well-being and effectiveness for mission personnel while launching into new areas of challenge and service within the missio Dei.


We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development ... We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet.... We resolve to build a better future for all people, including the millions who have been denied the chance to lead decent, dignified, and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential. We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet (United Nations [UN], 2015, Preamble section and para. 50).

The past 50 years have witnessed the steady development of member care practice--growing numbers of diverse practitioners, networks, publications, tools, and other resources--in support of the Church's worldwide mission efforts (O'Donnell, 2015b). Currently there are an estimated 410,000 "foreign missionaries," 5,200 "foreign mission sending agencies," and 12.2 million "national workers" (Johnson, Zurlo, Hickman, & Crossing, 2016, p. 27). Resiliency, well-being, and self and mutual care have taken root alongside such areas as adjustment and crises, pathology and dysfunction, and professional and specialized care. Member care is developing its global presence and relevance as colleagues connect with counterparts in other countries, disciplines, and sectors for mutual learning and joint projects.

There is a growing opportunity for mental health professionals (MHPs) to get involved in the efforts to confront major problems and significantly improve human well-being. The global field of member care in particular provides many opportunities for strategic involvement by Christian MHPs and other colleagues in mission and member care. As we elaborated earlier this year:

Global Member Care (GMC) is an interdisciplinary, international, and multi-sectoral field that focuses on supporting the diversity of mission/aid personnel and sending groups. It involves the provision and development of quality resources to promote wellbeing, resiliency, and effectiveness. Pre-field training, field coaching, personnel departments, pastoral counselors, crisis support, and reentry preparation are some of the many ingredients needed to promote health, resiliency, and effectiveness. (O'Donnell & Lewis O'Donnell, 2016b).

The recent GMC model for example, includes the addition of Sphere 6, Sector Care--The Flow of Common Ground (O'Donnell & Lewis O'Donnell, 2013, pp. xix-xxi). It highlights the contributions of the health, humanitarian, and human resource sectors while also paying particular attention to the mission-aid sector as member care expands globally into new areas (O'Donnell, 2013). As seen in Figure 1, this model is situated within the missio Dei; that is, the overall work of God in the world through divine, secular, ecclesiastical, missiological, and other means. …

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