TWR Canada missionary Jonathan Griffiths was in the office a few weeks ago and he sat down with our staff writer to talk about his work with Member Care Media and missionary work. I very much enjoyed this conversation and I hope you’ll be blessed and challenged as I was.
Please pray for me. I have just returned home from our tour through Alberta. Touring is always exciting, always fun (I love talking about TWR and meeting new people and visiting old friends), but it is tiring.
Jonathan Griffiths is a journalist serving in Austria where he leads TWR’s Member Care Media ministry. Member Care Media is a radio program (available online and on DVD) that seeks to encourage, enhance, and enable cross cultural Christian workers in their place of calling.
Member Care Media (MCM) recently won a partnership award at the National Religious Broadcasters conference in Nashville, TN.
What is one of your greatest concerns regarding cross-cultural missions work?
Fewer missionaries are going out. We’re not replacing the missionaries who are leaving or retiring. Not only are the workers few, the workers are leaving. We are facing a big waterfall moment in missions with baby boomers who have retired, are retiring, or are about to retire. We’re in the middle of it. We’re not replacing them.
Member Care Media seeks partnerships with counselling ministries, sending agencies, and other groups to provide cross cultural workers with resources. What kind of resources are we talking about?
There’s an archive of 6000 media programs addressing topics from recruitment to retirement and everything in between for the single missionary, newly married, kids not at home, a retirement age couple, or raising young kids or teens. The programs address the primary attrition issues in missions: loneliness, disillusionment with God, marital issues, health issues, burnout, emotional struggles from being away from their support network.
We may address a topic 8-10 times to varying depths to make people aware of the issue they may be facing, and so they can determine when or if they need to seek professional help.
Do you have an example of how MCM is helping?
We have a program called Fading To Black. It’s a doctor and a missionary in an interview. The missionary is talking saying things like the sun is setting, it’s slowly getting darker; I’m fading into a black zone. The doctor says these are indications of heading into a burnout. From that program we’ve heard from our partner counsellors that they’ve spoken with missionaries who describe fading to black. Because of our partnership, they knew those missionaries had come to them from the fading to black interview we did. We’re challenging people to break negative trends.
These partnerships that began for the missionary, those biblical foundations of approaching these unspoken issues, have gone into wider networks through the local Church. We created this content to encourage, enhance and enable the cross cultural worker, but now people using it to encourage, enhance and enable the local church and community. This is exciting, because now TWR national partners are coming to MCM and asking do you do something on conflict, on physical abuse, on depression, on burnout. The national partners are seeing this
with pastors, the church or community they’re addressing. They’re coming to MCM to gather those resources.
In order to allow MCM to keep its focus on the cross cultural Christian workers, TWR Europe created the specialized content department. Now we can use the MCM network to create content that targets refugees, young people facing addiction, etc. We’re being much more journalistic and narrowing the focus of the content.
Is MCM being using outside of Europe?
Our highest [website] hits are probably from North American pastors. They say what you’re doing for the missionaries is great, but what about us…Many of the things pastors and church leaders are facing are similar: God’s calling, servant leadership, giving, and sacrifice of the families – a lot of similarity…
Is there a role for a media program like that? Yeah, there is. Will God open a door for that? Sure. There are 4 or 5 very good counselling centres in Canada we could partner with and provide a media aspect. It’s a capacity issue.
We have just myself and one other. We have a volunteer in Alberta who is one of our writers who edits our content and fine-tunes what we’re doing. We’re going through a major transition because the founder and director, when she retired, two others retired as well. So we went from a very strong team to a tight team that needs to rebuild with an eye to the expanding role of specialized media content.
We need people. We need writers. We need people who are really passionate to serve those who are serving the church overseas in really hard areas. Desperately need writers around the world.
MCM encourages and walks alongside workers providing a glass of water or listening wisely. We’re not the HR department, we’re the heart department.