Sheri and I got our start in Missionary Care in 2003, establishing our first Oasis in Oregon. The Missionary Care enterprise, (special ways of caring for missionaries) however, had started some years before that. Recently I received this article by Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, a pioneer in the Member Care movement. Since it documents the history of Missionary Care, I want to pass this on to you, in case you’re involved in Missionary Care and want this history.
“Missionary care has made great strides over the past fifty years and is increasingly recognized as a strategic and ethical necessity for mission. Starting in the early 1990s, the term “member care” began to be widely used to identify what was recognized as an emerging international and interdisciplinary field. Throughout the development of this field, its missional focus—indeed its heart—was clearly seen in its support of mission personnel themselves, as well as their work. Its foundational principles highlighted the biblical admonitions to love one another and, as reflected in the opening prayer above from the first-century church, in the yearning to be made perfect in God’s love.
This article presents a historical journey through several professional publications, organizations, and conferences dealing with the practice of member care. Starting in the pre-1960 era and traveling into the mid-2010s, I highlight trends in member care development. This chronology weaves my own commentary around a selection of core quotes from different authors. Knowing our history provides important perspectives for supporting the church’s endeavors to share the Good News and do good works among all peoples.” (read the full article . . .)