Member Care Update -- February 2016
Expanding the global impact of member care
Share your comments and resources on the MCA Facebook page
Relationships in Dadaab--the world's largest refugee camp: Mihiyo and her family. “DADAAB, 20 January 2016 (IRIN) - When Halima Abdi fled the civil war in Somalia with her young daughter, she hoped her stay across the border in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp would be short-lived. Twenty-five years on, her granddaughter, Mihiyo, is breastfeeding her fourth child. Three generations of refugees in one family: just like the other 350,000 Somalis, they are forced to call this barren, dusty settlement some kind of home.“ Click HERE to read the story from IRIN News. Photo: Moulid Hujale/IRIN
This Update presents several resources for strengthening interpersonal relationships. Many of the featured books, such as God’s Design for Community, Reconcilable Differences, Married in Mission, and Love Across Latitudes are filled with practical suggestions and exercises to help build and restore relationships. We also include an important new book on the common identity of being both Christians and humans (Our Global Families). We finish with some personal reflections on the darker side of relationships—dysfunction and deviance—very difficult places where our usual interpersonal skill sets can have limited impact.
You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13: 14-5, 17, NIV
God’s Design for Community: Strategies for Building Better Relationships (2015), Gaylyn Williams. “We live in a variety of communities, including family, church, ministry, life group, business and more. How we relate to one another will demonstrate whether we are living in ways that glorify God. One of our goals should be to interact with the people in our lives so they will be drawn to God, us and our communities. Learn how to build your relationships and work through conflict to deepen all your relationships. Also available as an online course.” (quote from website)
Reconcilable Differences: Strategies for Your Journey Through Conflict (2015), Gaylyn Williams. “Conflict is inevitable anywhere there are people—including with family and friends, at church, in ministry and in business. Would you like to learn to convert potentially destructive conflicts into something constructive and beneficial? Conflict can either devastate or strengthen relationships. You can transform your life and communities with proven conflict-resolution skills. Also available as an online course
.” (quote from website) https://relationshipresources.org/shop/reconcilable-differences/
Note: These two books above are based on the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills book (SYIS) that Ken and Gaylyn Williams wrote in the 1990s. The new books include many additional helps for use by individuals, couples, and groups. For more information on the books and the author’s website (Relationship Resources): https://relationshipresources.org/. Also see the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills website for course information and locations: http://relationshipskills.com/
Leading Multicultural Teams (2014), Evelyn and Richard Hibbert. “Churches and mission agencies are increasingly characterized by cultural diversity. As a result, many Christians find themselves working as part of a multicultural team. Leading these teams is a complex challenge that requires team leaders to understand how to help multicultural teams thrive. Team leaders need to know how to help team members grow in particular qualities and acquire specific skills related to multicultural teamwork. This book integrates insights from the Bible, team theory, leadership, and intercultural studies to explain how leaders of multicultural teams can help their teams become enriching and enjoyable contexts to work in, at the same time as achieving their purpose. (quote from website). Note: The authors affirm that effective, synergistic teams, be they mono- or multi-cultural, are rare, yet need not be so. https://missionbooks.org/products/detail/leading-multicultural-teams
Married in Mission: A Handbook for Couples in Cross-Cultural Service (2015), Alexis Kenny. "[This book is a] guide for couples called to the complex yet fulfilling world of cross-cultural humanitarian work. This resource addresses the inherent challenges and benefits of overseas ministry from the perspective of husband and wife. With a total of twenty-one interactive exercises concerning marriage and service, this handbook is a means for individuals to purposefully engage with their vocational roles as both spouses and missioners. Kenny has identified seven phases within an extended, international volunteer/mission commitment: the pre-departure periods of (1) discernment and (2) preparation; the (3) beginning, (4) middle, and (5) end of the abroad experience itself; and finally, the post-assignment stages of (6) re-entry and (7) integration. Each chapter of this manual is dedicated to one of these seven distinct seasons of intercultural ministry. Comprised of topics and conclusions based on anecdotal data gathered from over ninety married missioners, informed by a healthy blending of psychology and Catholic-Christian theology, and written in an informative yet accessible manner, "Married in Mission" is a comprehensive and necessary tool for all globally engaged couples. “ (quote from the website) http://alexisckenny.wix.com/marriedinmission
201 Great Discussion Questions for Couples in a Long Distance Relationships (2014), Lisa McKay and Michael Wolfe. “Are you in a long distance relationship? Do you want to get to know your partner better? Do phone calls sometimes feel like hard work? Do you find yourself wondering what to talk about apart from how your day was? Pick up these 201 fun discussion questions for couples. These questions will spark fresh conversations, make you laugh, and help you get to know each other better. Questions span topics related to childhood, family, work, passions, life now, the future, what if, and much more.” (quote from website)
Love Across Latitudes: A Workbook on Cross-cultural Marriage (2015, sixth edition), Janet Fraser-Smith. “Text, stories and questions for those who choose a life partner coming from a culture or social grouping other than their own. This book will help you explore who you are as individuals, your own backgrounds and that of your families and cultures. It also encourages you to look ahead at communication challenges, your conflict patterns and some of the choices that occur during the life time of married life.” http://www.gileadbookspublishing.com/love-across-latitudes.html
More Relationship Resources--Global Issues
Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing World (2015), Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu. “There is an increasing awareness of global interconnectedness. As Christians, we belong to not only a diverse global Christian family but also a diverse human family. In this volume Todd Johnson, a noted expert on global Christianity and world missions trends, and Cindy Wu show how divisions within these families work against our desire to bring about positive change in the world. They provide an overview of global Christian identity, exploring how we can be faithful to our own tradition while being generous and engaging with Christians across denominations, be better informed about and form significant friendships with people of other religions, and be more realistic about our ability to solve the world's problems. The book utilizes the latest research data on global Christianity and world religions and includes tables, graphs, charts, and end-of-chapter discussion questions.” (quote from website) Note: These authors are among the many Evangelicals who continue to advocate for greater involvement in our world. http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/our-global-families/349570
Diaspora Missiology: Reflections on Reaching the Scattered Peoples of the World (2015), Michael Pocock an Enoch Wan. “For many years, cross-cultural missions were directed to people in the countries of their birth, generally in Majority World areas. Foreigners present among or around the intended focus of ministry were not viewed as part of mission ministry. Diaspora missions focus on these peoples, who are now actually and virtually in more accessible places. This book will help you understand the dynamics behind this accelerated movement of peoples from one region to another, biblical principles and precedents that guide ministry today, the application of social and communication studies, and actual cases of ministry to and with diaspora peoples.” (quote from website) Note: Member care is increasingly important to support those working in diaspora mission as well as for Christian leaders themselves who are part of the various diasporas—new areas for providing/developing member care. https://missionbooks.org/products/detail/diaspora-missions
Serving God in a Migrant Crisis: Ministry to People on the Move (March 2016), Patrick Johnstone and Dean Merrill. “Some people are angry about today's global refugee crisis. Other people are scared. Pioneering missionary researcher Patrick Johnstone sees the blessings hidden away inside the largest human migration patterns in the history of our planet."It's a tragedy for people to be violently uprooted from lands that were in their families for generations, or for centuries," says Johnstone, author of Operation World. "Meanwhile, it's an opportunity for Christians in the more developed world to change the world by practicing the virtue of hospitality." "The world has literally come to our doorstep," says Johnstone. "Will we open the door?" Unprecedented. Unstoppable. More people are on the move today than ever before. Even more will be on the move tomorrow. These are the factors that make people get up and go: War. Drought. Terrorism. Poverty. Failed states. Environmental catastrophes. Disease. Revolutions. Johnstone says these factors will increase migration in coming decades. Even more people will be on the move. Johnstone helps us understand why God loves refugees so much. He shows how some Christians around the world are serving refugees right now. And he challenges us to figure out what we can do in our own communities.” (quote from website) Note: There are of course many perspectives on how best to compassionately deal with the growing refugee crises, especially in the variety of contexts that are emerging
Global Status Report on Violence Prevention (2014), World Health Organization. “[This Report], which reflects data from 133 countries, is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse. Jointly published by WHO, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the report reviews the current status of violence prevention efforts in countries, and calls for a scaling up of violence prevention programmes; stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant for violence prevention; and enhanced services for victims of violence.” (from website)
Note: See also the resources on Violence and Injury Prevention on the website of the World Health Organization:
Dealing with Dysfunction and Deviance in Relationships
There are many examples in Scripture when “sin” is identified, whereby some form of Christian discipline is clearly needed (Matthew 18:17, I Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14). Ken Williams says in Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills that “Scripture teaches us that in some cases our relationship with others must be secondary to the issue. We need to know when to put the issue first, even if it means the relationship is harmed or broken” (2002, p. 114). There are some very good reasons why it is not appropriate to “reconcile” such as in cases where doing so would only reinforce evil or wrong behavior and thus “prop up pathology” and put other people at risk. One prime example is Christ’s ongoing confrontation of the hypocritical behavior of religious leaders.
Dealing with dysfunction-deviance is complicated when there is not proper accountability in place (e.g., “good old boys clubs”), or when there is not enough history with a person or an institution to really confront it and require verifiable changes. We are not talking about how to handle situations where folks simply differ (which is usually the case fortunately), but rather where there is significant personal and organizational dysfunction, or worse, deviance in the form of corruption. So in other words organizations and people, whether they are aware of it or not, or willing to admit it or not, have a “toxic” influence on people. And as a result, unless we are spiritually discerning; “street wise”; well-versed in the behavioral science areas of systems, recovery, clinical disorders; and grounded in the full counsel of Scripture regarding the conflict resolution process, we can end up being "wise as doves" as we interact with others who may be "innocent as serpents." Truth without grace may be brutal, but grace without truth can be lethal.
The sad fact is that people can be seriously duped and disabled by personal or systemic dysfunction. No one is immune. A common mistake of leaders/consultants who are trying to help is to overestimate one’s ability to understand and deal with dysfunction-deviance…and to also not be wounded in the process. Another mistake is to simply acquiesce to it all, as in the case of the three core elements of corruption (complicity, cover-ups, cowardice). Here’s how dysfunction-deviance often progresses—the tactic tricks to protect ones power-position-possessions and exploit the vulnerable.
Deny. The first task of dysfunction is to conceal itself. "Don't ask about problems, don't tell about problems" is a pervasive, core, unwritten rule. In short, deny reality.
Downplay. If that does not work, then the second task becomes getting folks to minimize it by downplaying its negative impact, stating that the group/person is going through a “normal” stage of adjustment; or simply changing the subject. Relational unity/conformity takes precedence over relational truth/connection.
Distract. If that does not work then the third task is to distract from the real issues, “feign pain” and get sympathy, or admit that something in a fuzzy way is “not exactly right” and perhaps refer to problems as being largely a matter of having different perspectives/preferences. There is little commitment to acknowledge real issues and little capacity to address them.
Discredit. If that does not work, then the fourth task, which can actually occur simultaneously with the previous three, is to discredit those who point it out, no matter how sensitively they try to do so. An atmosphere of fear and subtle intimidation are usually part of dysfunctional/authoritarian systems. Fear of reprisal prevents people from speaking up and advocating for healthy change.
Destroy. If none of the above are effective then demolish people’s reputations, work contributions, relationships, and wellbeing by false accusations, rumors, threats, harassment, spin, lies, and dismissals. Cover up and do all that is possible to maintain secrecy, control, positions of influence, respect, the status quo, and in some cases revenue streams.
Note: The original material also includes many helps for preventing and dealing with dysfunction-deviance, including 10 summary suggestions. (e-book version is available on Amazon)
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)
Share your comments and resources on the MCA Facebook page