A Long-Term Collaboration
3 Dec 2019
An interview with Paul Rayside, the Member Care and Development team leader.
What is Member Care and Development?
It is about our coming alongside Pioneers members [missionaries] from the beginning to the end of their cross-cultural mission involvement. lt is about pastoral care, life-long learning, and personal and ministry growth and development. Our former member development team leader, David Price, puts it this way: Developing the Passion, Compassion, Character, and Competence of our Members.
What do you enjoy most about this ministry?
I enjoy the level of connection I have with members in my sphere of care, and the mentoring relationships I have with various people. As the team leader, I love working with like-minded teammates and thinking about ways to develop our practices and skills that benefit our global mission goals.
What do you find most challenging?
The people who make up our organisation are our greatest gospel- bearing asset — and we cherish them! The most challenging thing about the role is journeying with people when relationships go ‘pear-shaped’. Obviously, every human being has strengths and weaknesses, and when people self-identify areas of personal growth opportunity, it’s a wonderful thing to witness. Conversely, when people can’t get along, even brothers and sisters in Christ, the consequences can be profound. I wear that heavily, and continually need the Lord’s enabling.
What does the member development journey look like?
Preparing to Go
The journey starts with our mobilisers by way of fostering genuine relationships; not just to facilitate their transition to someplace of service in the world, but to discern together what God is doing in their lives and how we might help. The relationship with the member development team usually starts at the point of the Applicant Interview. Our goals include helping people prepare well, establishing learning and development goals, and providing mentoring along the way.
Once our members are ‘on-field’, their primary source of care is provided by their local team leader and team colleagues. They’re right there on the ground together and become quickly aware of needs, challenges, and opportunities. Since they understand local contexts, teams are best placed to provide appropriate and timely support. At the same time, our team in Australia works hard to keep meaningful connections through social media, newsletters, prayer, conversations, and visits. We try to tailor our care to individual needs, preferences, and contexts, and our intervention kicks up a gear in times of crisis.
When visiting Australia on home assignment, members visit our office to share with our team all that God has been doing in and through them for the sake of His glory. As we debrief with a focus to care pastorally, members unpack the various highs and lows of their recent period of service. Many wonderful anecdotes are shared, and sometimes stories of woe. We rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. While on home assignment, medical check-ups and finance reviews are routine as we seek to ensure our members are in good shape physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially.
Coming Home to Stay
Re-entry is that sometimes-strange season when missionaries conclude their cross-cultural service and return to Australia for the next life- season God has in store for them. Often, friends and family here don’t realise that the concluding member’s passport country is no longer ‘home’ in quite the same way. It can take a long time for missionaries to re-adjust to Australia because they have been so deeply impacted, enriched and changed by their host culture. It means saying ‘farewell’ to people and places, ‘goodbye’ to deep friendships and the work in which they have been immersed. We support our members at this time through debriefing opportunities and by providing relevant resources to help them understand and brace for the grief cycle they are likely to experience. We encourage participation at the annual Missions lnterlink Re-entry Retreat, an event specifically designed to help returning missionaries adjust well.
What is the role of prayer in member development?
We cover everything in prayer. We need God’s intervention in people’s lives and are desperate for His help. We regularly pray over the needs of which we are aware.
In our fortnightly team meetings, we devote significant time to specific prayer. Every team member throughout Australia is committed to praying regularly for workers in the places of the world for which they have oversight. When we receive newsletters, we pray. When there’s a crisis, we pray. When things are going well, we pray.
Our wonderful team comprises people with years of cross-cultural experience; nurses, pastors, people with business experience and parents. Most of all, each one has a vibrant relationship with the Lord Jesus out of which they care for our global members.
Is God calling you to join the mission field? Get in touch.