This Update focuses on essential commitments needed to do member care well over the long haul. They are intended for the diversity of member care workers and all those with member care responsibilities who are involved in the wellbeing and effectiveness of mission/aid personnel and their sending groups. The first set identifies seven directional commitments crucial for the future development of member care in our globalizing and troubled world (article in press). The second set lists 10 foundational commitments for good practice which emphasize competencies and character qualities (Global Member Care, volume one). We begin this Update with the latest United Nations Year in Review (video, 2014) and finish on a personal note with a composite quote to help us live out our commitments.
Warm greetings from Geneva,
Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell
Our core commitments in member care
are grids to guide us and guides to goad us.
Watch the new United Nations Year in Review 2014:
You will quickly see why our our core commitments in member care need to be tough--
in order to be relevant for tough times-places-people.
Seven Directional Commitments
Recommendations for Member Care Workers
Excerpted from “The Missional Heart of Member Care”
International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 2015 (used by permission)
“1. We commit to diligently pursue our own journeys of personal and professional growth—to grow deeply as we go broadly.
2. We commit to integrate the inseparable areas of our character (resilient virtue) and competency (relevant skills) with compassion (resonant love).
3. We commit to follow God into new areas of learning and work: crossing sectors, cultures, disciplines, and comfort zones.
4. We commit to embrace our duty to enter difficult settings, including those permeated by conflict, calamity, and corruption, as those in great need are often in places of great risk."
5. We commit to have clear ethical commitments and standards that guide our provision of quality services to a diversity of workers and senders in mission.
6. We commit to develop quality member care workers from all peoples, mutually learning from those who work within their own cultures and those who serve cross-culturally.
7. We commit to base our work upon the trans-everything practice of fervently loving one another—agape. Our love is the ultimate measure of our member care.”
“I encourage all who have member care responsibilities to consider [these] seven directions [as] crucial commitments [and] as a basis for good practice in our future individual and joint work….The opportunities are vast for the love of God to lead us further into the missional heart of member care, building upon an amazing legacy [over the past 50+ years].. Member care will continue to have a positive impact within the mission community and to cross new boundaries of service on behalf of our very needy world, ad majorem Dei gloriam.” (excerpts above—Kelly O’Donnell, author)
Note: This article will be able to be accessed on line for free in early April on the site for the International Bulletin of Missionary Research
. You will need to create a free online account first. www.internationalbulletin.org
Love never ceases (I Cor. 13:8).
Adapted from the opening illustration
in the Global Member Care
Ten Foundational Commitments
Recommendations for Member Care Workers
Excerpted from “Pursuing Trans-Cultural Ethics”
Global Member Care (volume one): The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice (2011)
“1. Ongoing training, personal growth, and self-care.
2. Ongoing accountability for my personal/work life, including consultation/supervision.
3. Recognizing my strengths/limits and representing my skills/ background accurately.
4. Understanding/respecting felt needs, culture, and diversity of those with whom I work.
5. Working with other colleagues, and making referrals when needed.
6. Preventing problems and offering supportive/restorative and at times pro bono services.
7. Having high standards in my services and embracing specific ethical guidelines.
8. Acknowledging different disciplinary/regulatory norms for different MCWs.
9. Abiding by any legal requirements for offering member care where I reside/practice.
10. Growing in my relationship to Christ, the Good Practitioner.”
“[The above] reflects the need for a generic set of guidelines for all types of MCWs…It focuses on the personal characteristics, backgrounds, and relationships needed to practice member care ethically. The underlying commitment is for MCWs to provide the best services possible in the best interests of the people whom they serve. Like all [recommended guidelines, it] is intended to be referred to regularly, to be discussed with colleagues, and to be applied in light of the variations in our backgrounds.” (excerpts above from pages 166-167—Kelly O’Donnell, author)
Note: For more information on member care commitments, see Part Three in Global Member Care (volume one)—“Ethics/Human Rights in Member Care: Developing Guidelines in Mission/Aid”.
Living Our Core Commitments
Here are some summary thoughts to support us all in our commitments to work ethically and effectively in our world. They are fashioned around a medley of several special and instructive quotes. Although they are written in the context of working globally in member care and mental health, they are also very relevant for those in other disciplines and sectors.
"Persevere as you pursue areas that you are passionate about and stretch yourself into new areas of interest as part of life-long learning...As in most human enterprises, there can be political agendas, power dynamics, territoriality, and dysfunctional behaviors to navigate” (O’Donnell, 2012, p. 201). Keep in the forefront the opportunities for “selfless moral struggle” in partnering with others (Patel et al. 2011, p. 90) and the “duty and choice to risk your own rights and well-being” on behalf of fellow humans (O’Donnell, 2011, p. 187). "Embrace lifestyles that reflect commitments to equality, justice, and wellbeing for all" (O'Donnell, 2012, p. 201). Develop your personal character and professional competence as a responsible global citizen committed to “seeing reality clearly… [including] physical and mental suffering due to human cruelty… [without giving up] our dream for a more loving and peaceful humanity” (Mollica, 2013, p.15). Connect with a supportive caravan of colleagues for your Global Integration journey in the service of humanity. In all that you do and in everything that comes your way, remember that “your task is to be true, not popular” (Luke 6:26, The Message).
Mollica, R. Healing a violent world manifesto. Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. (2013)
O’Donnell, K. (2011). Global member care (volume one): The pearls and perils of good practice. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.
O’Donnell, K. (2012). Global mental health; A resource primer for exploring the domain, International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation. 1(3), 191-205.
Patel, V. et al. (2011). The Movement for Global Mental Health. British Journal of Psychiatry, 198. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.109.074518v
The Message. (Luke chapter 6)
More MCA Resources
Global Portal for Good Practice (website)
Reflections, Research, and Resources for Good Practice (weblog)
Global Mental Health: A Global Map for a Global Movement (website)
Global Integration: Connecting and Contributing (updates, materials, webinars)
Global Member Care: (volume one): The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice (2011)
Our latest book! Global Member Care (volume two): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (November 2013) The e-book version is available on Amazon
Actively integrating our lives (connecting and contributing) with global realities
(skillfully addressing the major issues facing humanity and promoting wellbeing)
in light of our core values (e.g., ethical imperatives, commitment to humanity, God’s glory).