Mental health is a familiar term to us all now, being particularly spoken about during this pandemic. We can see evidence of emotional distress around us in the community and our church family is not immune to these pressures. Mary Hodson suggests some ways to care for your mission workers.
As you think through how best to support the people close to you, have you thought about how you can best care for the wellbeing of your mission-partners serving cross-culturally?
We all experience and are influenced by our emotions. They are an indispensable part of being human and impact both our relationship with God and with others. They can show us a lot about what is going on deeper within someone’s heart – both in terms of how they are interpreting their situation and also in how they are managing it.
Proverbs 20:5 states “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Do you have the depth of relationship with your mission partner that allows you to explore their struggles with them – how are they interpreting their situation, their feelings and associated choices?
Here are some strategies that may be helpful for you to care well for them:
Intentionally make regular time to talk
How are they really doing – physically, spiritually, and emotionally? Give your mission partners an opportunity to talk, and listen to the emotional language that they use. It takes time to build trust and openness and it comes from a relationship founded by love.
As you build up a close relationship with your mission partner, you will recognise signs of stress and what their typical patterns of responses are to these. That will help you to ask more targeted and specific questions and help them with areas of accountability or concern. When communication is regular, you are more able to follow up on concerns and prayer point.
Help them to biblically reframe their struggles
How does their interpretation square with Scripture? How does God’s perspective reinforce, expand or correct their perceptions? Help them to turn to God with their emotions and to use these to grow in relationship with Him.
Think of ways to show them love
It will encourage them no end to have little touches of unexpected love from you! Could you send a card, gift, encouraging WhatsApp message or video clips from your family?
Persevere in your prayers for them, sharing their burdens and bringing their needs before the Lord. Ask them for specific prayer points and follow up on the results from these.
Helpful questions to ask
What is their pattern of rest and refreshment?
Where are they getting their support at the moment and what does this look like?
How are they deepening their relationships?
What does quality time look like within their marriage or with their children?
How are friendships being deepened, particularly for those that are single?
How is their personal walk with the Lord?
Mary Hodson serves on the UFM staff team as Women’s Pastoral Worker