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CMS and Pastoral Care

Mission Personnel Secretary Judith Calf shares on pastoral care in CMS.

  • As a CMS Mission Personnel Secretary, what does your role involve?

My role is to help send missionaries to and support them in their location. This involves the logistics of establishing their location and ministry, getting them physically there, and providing some of the pastoral support to missionaries once they are there.

  • Pre-departure pastoral care

Before departure, it includes organising such matters as visas, travel and what they will need to take with them; shipping belongings overseas; arranging for them to be met at the airport, the relationship with the receiving organisation, housing and an appropriate vehicle, language study and children’s education.

  • Pastoral care on location

Once they are on location, it involves regular contact. It means being proactive - contacting missionaries to see how they are going; and being reactive - responding quickly when there is a request or a problem. There are also pastoral visits of course.

  • What does a pastoral visit involve?

CMS staff visit each missionary unit (a couple, a family, a single missionary) once a year. We aim to spend 48 hours with each missionary unit. We also try to spend time with people and the heads of the organisations with whom the missionaries work.

John Bales (former General Secretary, CMS-NSW) on a pastoral visit with Ruth Brigden
John Bales (former General Secretary, CMS-NSW) on a pastoral visit with Ruth Brigden

It gives us a chance to see and understand the situation in which our missionaries are working - “to smell the smells, feel the heat and the dust.” They allow time to chat about work, spiritual life and health. Sometimes it is providing a fresh pair of ears and eyes to a situation; at other times it’s listening as a missionary family make decisions about where they should send their children to school, perhaps in another country.

Pastoral visits tell us more about the situation of the missionary, and how to pray for them better. It reveals other opportunities that might be there. Those opportunities maybe crucial in sending other folk to work with and support them.

  • Communication while on location

We communicate to missionaries on location by sending SMS, email and Skype phone, (and praise God for cheap calling cards!). Improvements in technology have made communication much faster and easier. If there are ever reports of unrest and security problems in some of our locations, I am able to make phone calls to each missionary unit to check how they were going.

  • Pastoral care through language study

Helping to establish goals for the period of language study and following up how they are progressing with these goals is very important.

  • What happens in emergency situations?

We have a crisis manual but when there is an emergency, we don’t tell the person what to do, instead we work with them and ask questions to discern what options are available to them. “Using ears twice as much as mouth” means listening and reflecting for them to decide. Because everyone is different, there is a great diversity in the ways CMS supports missionaries.

Generally CMS follows the advice of the receiving organisation or church. If an organisation or the local church say that a missionary needs to leave the country for safety, or if in a crisis says that the missionary remaining is creating difficulties for the church for whatever reason, then we will arrange for the missionary to leave the country.

  • What is CMS’s Duty of Care to missionaries?

Our duty of care is to ensure our missionaries are equipped to do the ministry to which God has called them.

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