We spend a great deal of time and energy training up Pastoral Counselors and Clinical Chaplains via CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and CPO (Clinical Pastoral Orientation). Sometimes it dominates our activities that we fail to note that we do other things as well.
One of those is Missionary Member Care. We focus on counseling for those involved with missionary work. Occasionally, we work with missionaries who are from other countries serving in the Philippines. Far more commonly, we work with Filipino missionaries serving in other countries— in short-term, medium-term, or long-term work.
The group we work most commonly with (although not the only one) is OSB (One Sending Body). Some of us will be attending their annual missions conference in Koronodal City this August (2022). This will be the first time in several years that a representative from our group was able to attend the annual gathering.
Additionally, we have been investing a fair bit of time in training missionaries to be competent in pastoral counseling. In some cases, they intend to us that as part of their ministry in their target population. However, some are intentionally being trained in hopes of providing member care services for fellow missionaries.
Missionary member care has not been taken all that seriously in Southeast Asia. Back 8 or 9 years ago, our group led a training in basic missionary member care principles. Our host, while introducing us, noted that what we were going to be teaching was “controversial.” This was not because of host disagreed with our topic. Rather, it was because our host knew that some of the hearers would be tempted to react negatively. I had been to trainings where problems in the lives of missionaries was seen as a moral failing or on some level “being weak.” Could that be the problem? Of course, but when one assumes that is always the answer, problems will never get solved.
Looking forward to finding new opportunities to support more missionaries in Asia.