Member Care Associates -- MC Resource Update

December 2015 -- Number 80

Member Care Update -- December 2015
Expanding the global impact of member care


Field Consultations
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 This Update provides several resources for working with personnel in “field” settings. It includes a) an overview of how we set up and do field consults; b) materials which we have used in our recent member care trips (e.g., tools for assessment, personal growth, training, group discussion, articles); and some final thoughts on the central member care process of knowing well-caring well with integrity and skill. These resources collectively reflect four overlapping emphases in our current field consults: risk, resilience, relevance, and relationships.
it is clear that this important member care topic needs to be further developed. For example, we see the need for a compendium of materials focusing on field consultation, with case studies, suggestions, ethical principles, good practice guidelines, etc. Such a compendium could consolidate the learning from past decades of experience as well as deal with current and future practice issues. It could also feature, among other areas, needs of local and national staff, use of internet-based technologies, human demographics in which the “field” is essentially everywhere, contributions from other sectors, and challenges of working in our increasingly precarious and perilous world. Also useful would be online forums/webinars for interacting on this and other important member care areas.

Resources for Field Consultations

(images below: paintings by Diego Rivera)

...we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall…how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you…exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (excerpts from I Thessalonians 2, NASB)

How We Set Up and Do Field Consults
Much of what we are doing in member care can be summarized as cultivating the strengths, skills, and supports to effectively live and work in or challenging, globalizing world, ad majorem Dei gloriam. We like to tell people that member care is not always problem focused. In fact, the best time for team building, marriage enrichment, leadership development, crisis management skill acquisition, and work-life balance review is when you really "don't" have to do so.  So this means doing things like field consultations proactively and with a strengths and resilience focus. This perspective/approach can actually help workers to open up and to share problem areas. 
We also find ways to convey to workers that some the best member care does not involve specialized services per se but rather basic self-care (and mutual support). Examples of self care:  eating and sleeping well, taking some deep breaths throughout the day, exercising, prayer/reflection, expressing gratitude, focusing on others regularly, time with trusted colleagues, and being nice to yourself and doing your best to maintain margin, leisure, especially in high-stress settings, etc.

Self-care for field consultants is also especially important. We try to practice the above items (including asking for ongoing prayer from friends) as we pace ourselves, and plan extra time before and after trips. In general, for every week we spend on-site, the week before and the week after are also especially busy, preparing beforehand (e.g., learning about the setting--location, organization)  and catching up with your usual life/responsibilities afterwards plus doing any follow-up services. Hence in many ways a one-week field consult can be a three week experience and commitment.

There are certainly other “normal” member care areas of need of course, which are often the focus of field consultations: depression and anxiety, addictions, grief and loss, parenting kids and supporting older parents, relational conflicts and forgiveness, management struggles and struggles as managers, organizational health and dysfunction, spiritual stagnation and existential questions, career shifts and transitions, etc. Just to note too that we have never met a worker (including ourselves!) who did not want to share about some problem area or areas, provided that he/she felt safe to do so (feeling safe primarily relates to there being confidentiality and competence).

As part of setting up field consults (which can also include providing services at special gatherings/conferences and crisis intervention) we usually interact with a leader(s) first for input, to clarify confidentiality/services/expectations, and to help them pave the way for our visit. We also try to get a sense of what workers themselves would like to cover and people are free to contact us confidentially in advance to talk and do any assessment tools. People review and sign a Service Agreement (one page) prior to or during the first session. Our sessions on-site usually last from one to three hours. Sometimes there is only one session (like a short work-life overview or discussing a specific topic) or there can be daily sessions, say for five days in a row. Follow-up is done as needed via skype/email. There are usually no fees for our services, although honorariums are often given.
Depending on the situation (including maintaining boundaries) we stay in a hotel or in a worker’s guest room if available. In many settings, eating meals together along with seeing the workers’ “world” and having them orient us to it, are all important parts of being able to provide effective service. We approach field consults as learners-practitioners who deeply appreciate the diversity of mission/aid workers.  It is often a “mutual-learning” experience for all of us, yet without compromising our focus and task as caregivers.
We use a variety of materials to help workers assess and reflect on personal growth/adjustment, marriage and family life, team work, organizational health, etc. Some of these are included below.  We also offer interactive training/sessions on member care topics like crisis and contingency management, resiliency, member care programs, and stress. In addition, because we also connect with UN and INGO entities, we are able to interact on current issues regarding sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, etc. and thus share important multi-sectoral resources and help workers further connect to the broad context for doing international work. 


Some Resources We Use in Field Consultation

Guidelines for Short-Term Consultants
1995: Stephanas:  A New Testament Example of Frontier Member Care
2002: Field Counseling: Sifting the Wheat from the Chaff
2013: Consulting in Member Care: Notes on a Short Trip to India
2014: Global Integration: Opportunities for Mental Health Professionals
(power point and handout for an interactive lecture done by skype, for a doctoral course on psychological consultation; it covers the global context and new opportunities for doing consultations)

Also note there are many helpful articles related to field consultation in books such as Doing Member Care Well (2002) Enhancing Missionary Vitality (2002), Global Servants: Cross-Cultural Humanitarian Heroes (2011), and Thriving in Difficult Places (2014). Click HERE for more information (100+ Books for Member Care).

“We have had to ensure that our philosophy of member care, along with our crisis and contingency management approach, respect what God asks of our workers, even though they sometimes go against the prevailing attitude of  “safety, security, and reduction of stress levels at all costs,” that is characteristic of many Western cultures. Although no…worker morbidly…desires others to go through pain…or suffering, we have come to realize that such experiences, according to Scripture and history, normally accompany the spread of God’s kingdom.” Responsible Logistics for Hostile Places, Doing Member Care Well (2002), p. 447

A Call for Christian Risk; John Piper, Desiring God Ministries (2002).This is a helpful one-page article to stimulate thinking and discussion about risk. values, priorities, and the purpose of life.

Note: There are also many helpful materials on a theology of suffering, crisis and contingency management etc.  (beyond the scope of this Update)

"Human resiliency is the ability to face reality: to engage with and grow through life's challenges and adversities via inner strength, social support, coping skills, and core beliefs/values including life purpose and spiritual meaning." (Kelly and Michele O'Donnell Stress and Resilience in Peace Operations, 2015)
Resiliency Toolkit: Strengthening Ourselves and Others, Member Care Update (November 2015). Example of items included:
-- Self-Care and Life-Style Balance Inventory
--Giants, Foxes, Wolves, Flies and the CHOPS Stress/Adjustment Inventory (in several languages)
-- Building Resilient Managers in Humanitarian Organizations
-- Building Resilient Teams: The CACTUS Kit 

--See also the five-lesson online course on Team Resiliency

“So are we missing something essential by not explicitly acknowledging the undermining reality of evil and the underlying reality of God, as we are going [global] on behalf of the growing [global ails]? Sure! I am all for supporting human efforts to do good. I see it as the imago Dei at work within the missio Dei, regardless of whether one believes in these things or not. Humans do good. Yet I think humans do better when they include and honor God in the process. And more specifically I think we can do much better at “transforming our world” (e.g. the United Nations
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sept. 2015) and “restoring humanity” (e.g. the World Humanitarian Summit’s Global Voices Calling for Action, Sept. 2015) if God is included and honored in our efforts and if we started with transformation and restoration in our own hearts. The world will not be a better place unless "better people" make it so.” (New Concepts and Old Cautions for Global Integrators; CORE Member Care weblog, 29 October 2015, K. O’Donnell)
--Faith-Based Partners in Transformation, Global Integration Updates (August 2015)
Examples of items include: Faith-Based Health Care, Faith and Religion in Humanitarian Action (webinar archive), Laudato Sí: On Care for Our Common Home, Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism, etc.

--Migrant Care: Hospitality for Humanity, Member Care Updates (October 2015)
Example of items include a variety of video reports, technical documents, perspectives, etc.  to inform us and to encourage compassionate, competent responses to the growing forced migration crises.

--Transforming Our World, Global Integration Updates (October 2015)
Example of items include:  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and video links to world leaders’ presentations, World Humanitarian Summit, Migrant Care, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, Engaging with Faith Organizations and Communities, World Disasters Report 2015, Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mental health), Living Peace video etc. 

“When you make friends, don't be too quick to trust them; make sure that they have proved themselves. Some people will be your friends only when it is convenient for them, but they won't stand by you in trouble…A loyal friend is like a safe shelter; find one, and you have found a treasure. Nothing else is as valuable; there is no way of putting a price on it. A loyal friend is like a medicine that keeps you in good health.” (Excerpts from
Sirach/Eccesiasticus, chapter 6)
--Three Team Building Tools (including Team Feedback Form, Sentence Completion, and Relationship Verses; these materialas are also incuded in a five-lesson, online course on team Devel)

--Wise as Doves--Innocent as Serpents? Doing Conflict Resolution Better (article on health-dysfunction)

--See also the new books based on the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills Course, by Gaylyn Williams/Relationship Resources: God’s Design for Community (2015) and Reconcilable Differences (2015).

More MC Resources
“There is a great need for contextualized resources in the heart language of Christian workers in the least evangelized areas of the world…Bible studies and devotionals are foundational for discipling people, yet other resources of course are needed for dealing with: relational issues, marriage and family challenges, pornography, traumatic stress and PTSD, grief and loss, persecution and fear, to name a few. Further, there needs to be ongoing close collaboration to learn from each other as we share, adapt, and develop resources. Those who live and work in challenging places, including hostile/dangerous environments, especially have so much to share about resiliency, suffering, perseverance, and hope!” (“Future Directions for Member Care,” Member Care in India, 2012)

--Arabic MC:
--Bahasa Indonesia MC:
--China MC:
--Spanish MC:
--Bible Gateway:
(The Christian Scriptures in many translations and languages)

--See also:
Growing as Good Practitioners: Nine Tools to Support Mission/Aid Workers


Final Thoughts
Know Well and Care Well--with Integrity and Skill
Over the years we have emphasized several core areas for member care. Some examples, expressed in dyads, are wellbeing and effectiveness (WE), good support and good management, resiliency and relevance, organizational responsibilities and staff responsibilities, self-care and mutual care, character and competence, and providing and developing resources. We also emphasize the two Scriptures below as they have been particularly relevant for member care workers, leaders, and all those with member care responsibility. They highlight a central part of good practice process and are part of a grid that guides us and goads us, including as we do field consultations!
Proverbs 27:23-24
Know well the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds;
for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure for all generations.

--Who are the people/groups/settings for whom we have responsibility, influence...
--How am I getting to know them personally, building relationships, trust…
--What are their strengths, vulnerabilities, issues…
-- How can I help support, develop, release...
--What have I done well on this field consult, what have I learned, what could I improve…
Psalms 78:72
David shepherded God’s people with the integrity of his heart
and guided them with his skillful hands.

--How is integrity (consistent moral wholeness) reflected in my life, work, and leadership…
--With whom can I be open and accountable…
--What are some of my personal strengths and weaknesses as a leader, manager, practitioner…
--How would I like to further develop my member care skill and other skills….
--What have I done well on this field consult, what have I learned, what could I improve…


Member Care Associates

Member Care Associates is a non-profit organisation working internationally from the USA and Geneva. We provide and develop supportive resources for workers and organizations in mission, humanitarian, and development sectors. Our services include consultation, training, research, and publications.

Global Integration (GI)
GI is a framework for living and working relevantly in our globalizing world.
It involves integrating our lives (connecting and contributing) with global realities

(promoting well-being as we skillfully address the major issues facing humanity)
in light of our core values (e.g., ethical imperatives, commitment to humanity, faith-based). 

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: Common Ground-Common Good (updates, materials, webinars) 
Global Member Care: (volume one): The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice (2011)
(e-book version is available on Amazon)
Global Member Care (volume two): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (2013)
(e-book version is available on Amazon)

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