Pastoral and Professional Support for Missionaries

God’s calling will often draw people out of their comfort zones. When it sends them into entirely new and foreign lands, life can take on a whole new set of challenges. Though God equips those He calls and blesses those who are obedient, serving far from home in a different culture with an unfamiliar language – often in a spiritually dark climate – is not always easy.

“Even with pre-field training and letting people know how difficult it can be, it always seems to catch people by surprise,” Spiritual Life team director, Jonathan Bourbeau, says. “It takes leaving something behind and going into something new; there’s a dying and a coming alive, but that process is stressful and not easy.”

The goal for workers of Greater Europe Mission is to reach and disciple others, but when locals aren’t receptive to the Gospel and the workers aren’t seeing the results they’ve been praying for, burnout becomes a real possibility. “Burnout happens a lot. It happened to myself and my wife,” Jonathan remembers. “We weren’t sure what to do. Then, a colleague was very gracious to have [qualified] people walk alongside us.”

Scripture is clear on the importance of community and coming alongside each other for encouragement, help, carrying one another’s burdens, sharpening, and building each other up. For the missionary verging on burnout, questioning their call, or distracted with homesickness, help is essential.

GEM has recognized the importance of supporting its missionaries and has set up a resource of pastoral and professional care within the organization for this very purpose. Made up of GEM’s previously existing Member Care and Spiritual Life Team, GEM Wellness offers specialized support to help GEM workers and their families flourish spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and relationally. Take for instance the Nichol family, who in a time a need, received the necessary tools and support from GEM Wellness to joyfully and effectively continue God’s work. To listen to their story, click here.

To ensure missionaries are serving in healthy ways, GEM Wellness has developed strategic teams to cater to the whole person:

  • GEM-K team: Its aim is to create a safe space for teenagers to develop into spiritually and emotionally healthy adults who have personally experienced the transforming work of Jesus in their lives.
  • Counselor team: A team of educated and qualified counselors to help missionaries address mental, emotional, and relational trials.
  • Mission Pastors team: A group who proactively engages in caring for and supporting missionaries through calls, visits, and hosting within their own homes.
  • Connecting Hearts team: A women’s ministry that focuses on connecting women to God, themselves, and others through annual retreats that allow women within GEM to meet together, connect, and learn from prayerfully prepared content.
  • Sending Entity Member Care team: This team is responsible for assessing the mental and emotional readiness of individuals and couples wanting to join GEM. They also offer a retreat to care for missionaries after each term of service. 
  • Spiritual Life team: Their mission is to foster a culture that embraces and responds to God’s interactive presence which transforms lives, relationships, and ministries.
  • Healthy Living team: Their goal is to encourage and equip missionaries to live as embodied followers of Jesus by implementing healthy lifestyle habits for the physical body.

Many people turn to counseling at the eleventh hour, after things have gotten so bad that they’re left feeling defeated, but GEM has realized the importance of addressing this issue not just reactively, but also proactively. “Investing in people at the front end is important for their growth and development,” Jonathan insists, “especially for the transformative life that will have an impact.” If we want our missionaries to be effective, it’s vital that they remain healthy through all seasons of life.

GEM doesn’t leave missionaries to do God’s work alone. Available for those anticipating hardships or actively experiencing them, GEM Wellness is passionate about providing proper support for all, knowing that through this, missionaries will be equipped to be impactful and effective in their ministries.

Let’s continue to support our missionaries! Why not reach out to one you know now? It might bring them more encouragement than you realize.

If mission work has been on your heart and you’re looking for an organization that truly cares for you and wants you to thrive on the field, consider connecting with us by clicking here.