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A "must read" for worldwide missionary care-givers.

O'Donnell, K., Editor. (2002).

Doing Member Care Well: Perspectives and Practices from Around the World. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. Paperback. x + 566 pp. $24.99 ISBN 0-87808-4460

Kelly O'Donnell, Psy.D., is known around the globe as a promoter of missionary care, a facilitator of international dialogue, and an advocate for missions of the "newer sending countries." This is the third collection he has edited relating to the care of cross-cultural workers (see also Helping Missionaries Grow, 1988; Missionary Care, 1992).

This newest of O'Donnell's trilogy, like the first two, are requisite for anyone seriously involved in the care of missionaries or other cross-cultural workers worldwide. In our missionary care training courses, it is a valuable text for our mid-life graduate students, who come from around the globe to gain a foundation and learn skills for "member care." The greatest value of this volume is that is provides a perspective across many cultures, from many countries, providing a contemporary view of what is being conceptualized or practiced on the major continents.

We gain a glimpse of what motivates O'Donnell in his quest to generate both awareness of, and real, practical missionary care. He engages us at an international level through his choice of the "Foreword"--Jesus' words to His disciples in John 13:35, graphically laid out for us in thirty-eight languages with multiple scripts. Jesus said, "If you have love for one another, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples." O'Donnell promotes this kind of love by championing the care of Christ's special servants. He says, "... member care is both a core strategy and a biblical responsibility for all those involved in missions" (p. 1).

The themes in Doing Member Care Well are arranged around five concentric circles, representing the levels of care needed to keep missionaries going over the long haul: (a) master care (by God Himself), (b) self/mutual care, (c) sender care (mission and agencies), (d) specialist care, and (e) network care. This is a useful visual on which to place the diversity of practices current in the member care movement.

O'Donnell has solicited manuscripts for this book from about sixty authors worldwide, each enriching us with an overview and particulars of missionary care in his or her part of the world (about one-third of the book), or defining for us some aspect of the themes illustrated within the five concentric circles of care (about two-thirds). These authors include many persons widely recognized for their impact on and contributions to the movement of missionary care, such as Dr. Laura Mae Gardner of WBT and SIL; Lareau Lindguist of Barnabas, Intl.; and David Pollock of Interaction.

O'Donnell's first chapters lay out the context for member care, examining his model and addressing the flow of care. He provides a brief missions review, and thoughtful perspectives on suffering. This later theme is examined more closely in relation to human rights advocacy, in Chapter 45, by Wilfred Wong, a lawyer and advocate for suffering churches worldwide. A subsequent chapter by Erik Spruyt (of Le Rucher care center near Geneva) et al., also explores the cross of Christ, debriefing and ethnic reconciliation, not usually attended to in the member care dialogue. These are especially valuable contributions, as they broaden the horizon of need for care.

The sections on "Self and Mutual Care" and "Sender Care" are very helpful, but could benefit from broader coverage, such as how the local church is a vital channel of care. Among the fifty chapters, the sections related to "Specialist Care" are most comprehensive and multi-dimensional, ranging from pastoral/spiritual, to physical, training, career and team building care. Other sections encompass the needs of families, financial matters, crisis care and counseling services.

As an educator I particularly appreciate the five questions for reflection offered at the end of most of the chapters. These help to engage us at a deeper level. The later chapters are also invaluable, discussing ways to create and strengthen affiliations within the worldwide missionary care network. The "Resource List" in chapter 49 is a very practical guide for both knowledge and referrals around the globe. The book closes with a comprehensive list of books related to missionary care, arranged by topics. We could add to it Joyce Bowers' (Ed.) book published simultaneously with O'Donnell's: Enhancing Missionary Vitality, by Missionary Training International (2002). This is another excellent collection of writings on the contemporary care of people in missions.

Reviewed by LOIS A. DODDS, Ph.D.
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Title Annotation:Doing Member Care Well: Perspectives and Practices from Around the World
Author:Dodds, Lois A.
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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