It's great to see the increase in literature produced over recent years addressing the importance of consistent and relevant care for missionaries from their home base - the 'senders'.
'The concept of member care is not new, but what is new is the organised attempt world wide to develop and establish member care as a central part of the missionary endeavour.'
Yet something is still not working for it remains incredibly hard work getting this message across and too many missionaries struggle or return early because of the failure of the home churches to provide that essential support.
This book is not 'just another on the subject' however. It is a dynamic tool. Quite simply one of the best I have seen.
Pithily written, it is easy to read and eminently practical. Although primarily written for South African Christians it reaches beyond borders, being presented in such a way as to be accessible and relevant to the sending church worldwide.
The material is divided into three major sections: an introduction to member care; the life cycle of the missionary - to help senders better understand what's involved for those they send, and a comprehensive final section devoted to the many different aspects of providing care for missionaries right through from their recruitment and training to their retirement.
Each of these sections is subdivided into short topical subsections presented in clearly headed paragraphs, making it very easy to access the specific information needed at any given point.
The missionaries' needs are powerfully presented. For example, on the subject of re-entry: 'Coming home is difficult for many people in fact it may not be like "coming home" at all. The missionary often realises that "home" is not home any more. In fact, the missionary's host country feels much more like "home" (cf. Fawcett, 1999: 41). This often results in the missionary feeling like a stranger in his own culture.'
Yet: 'Often people at home will have the attitude of - "what is the big deal, he is only coming home". Sound familiar?
Be warned - this book is dynamite, blowing excuses and ignorance to smithereens.
The authors challenge and arm their readers with all the information and practical guidelines that could possibly be needed with ample back-up from Scripture. They leave no 'wriggle room' for anyone to opt out from the responsibility of care.
This is an absolutely essential read for all church leaders and congregations, for: 'To train missionaries, prepare them and send them to the field without caring for them continuously in a responsible and proper way, is short sighted, irresponsible, poor stewardship and a waste of the resources, which God has given us.'