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ss triple helix - winter 2003,  Doing Member Care Well - Perspectives and Practices from around the World (Book Review)

Doing Member Care Well - Perspectives and Practices from around the World (Book Review)

Doing Member Care Well - Perspectives and Practices from around the World - Ed. Kelly O'Donnell - William Carey Library Publishing 2002 - $19.99Pb 566 pp - ISBN 0 87808 446 0 - Also available from Global Connections £11

What is member care? The editor defines it as 'the ongoing investment of resources by mission agencies, churches and other organizations for the nurture and development of missionary personnel. It focuses on everyone in missions (missionaries, support staff, children and families) and does so ... from recruitment through to retirement'. Its aim is 'to further equip sending organizations as they support their mission/aid personnel'. This should lead to a strengthening of mission and enable missionaries to grow as people, hopefully preventing premature return from the field.

The book contains some 50 chapters written by a wide range of authors from a variety of backgrounds and from both old and new sending countries. They include pastors, medics, personnel directors, psychologists, church leaders and missionaries themselves. Some will be well known to CMF members, such as Mike Jones of EIHC (Elphinstone International Health Centre), Debbie Lovell Hawker, Annie Hargreaves of Interhealth and Rhiannon Lloyd.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 explains something of the nature of member care and puts it in a biblical and historical context. Part 2 brings insights from the five major regions of the world. Part 3 looks at the various aspects of the provision of member care. It includes best practice guidelines on member care provision, health and safety abroad, training and development, team building, the care of families and missionary children, finance, crisis/contingency planning and debriefing. Most chapters end with some items for 'reflection and discussion'.

Paula O'Keefe's chapter on 'Surviving war as a care giver' is challenging. Kelly's chapter on 'Giants, foxes, wolves and flies' caught my eye and set me thinking. Rhiannon Lloyd's input on bringing the cross to bear in the aftermath of the Rwandan holocaust is almost unbelievable. Debbie Lovell Hawker's chapter on critical incident debriefing is excellent. These people are 'pure gold' and have much to teach us.

The breadth of experience and the depth of wisdom shared by the contributors to this book are impressive. Those working overseas need our prayers and support so we need to develop the expertise to provide it. For all of us involved in caring for people who are or have recently been working overseas, it is a mine of information and help. We would do well to learn and put into practice the ideals that it sets before us.

Reviewed by
Peter Armon
CMF Overseas Support Secretary and formerly a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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