From spring 2002 - Honourably wounded - Stress Among Christian Workers (Book Review)
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Marjory Foyle was a general medical missionary in South Asia and experienced her own fair share of stressor exposure before training in psychiatry and returning to India. When she reached 60 years of age she embarked on a global travelling ministry conducting counselling and carefully noted psychiatric assessments. Her ground-breaking research, first presented in 1984, caused initial discomfort to some in missionary agencies but they were largely won over after the publication of the first edition of this book in 1987. The title was significant, restoring self-esteem to those who were genuine casualties but had been misunderstood, and I am very glad that the original title has been retained.
The first edition was a classic, and required reading for anyone involved in overseas mission. This edition casts its net more widely, including those who travel across international boundaries but continue to live in their home country, and those working with immigrants. Fourteen chapters encompass the changing face of missions, understanding stress, dealing with depression and discouragement, adjustment and culture shock, occupational stress, interpersonal relationships, parental and home country stress, stress and singleness, missionary marriages, stress and children, special forms of stress, re-entry, caring for missionaries and God's model of missionary care.
Every chapter is important and well written, in touch with the current realities of overseas service, brim full with realism, wisdom, insight, and hope informed by a love for Christ, but the author does not gloss over the ways in which mission partners may manufacture their own problems. All the chapters can be described as outstanding.
Is this still a book for this first decade of the 21st Century? Definitely yes. Her references are up to date and demonstrate an impressive breadth of research. Have I any criticisms?
Yes, but only two very minor ones. Occasionally the style is more like a scientific paper and this is unnecessary for her target readership. The referencing style should be changed at the next reprinting to a numbered Vancouver style and the author could introduce some informality by using the first and last names of authors in the text.
Who should read this book? All missionaries, all Christians working overseas or making visits as part of their Christian calling, all candidates, all returned, bruised or wounded mission partners, all missionary/Christian aid agency home staff, all those in local churches responsible for overseas personnel, and all church members with an interest in overseas mission. That should include every church member. It should be on every church bookstall, in every missionary training college and given to every candidate and serving mission partner by their agency. It is a superb book that I commend unreservedly.