GEM Wellness: Caring for Missionaries’ Minds, Bodies, and Souls
Anyone hoping to serve in ministry long-term should choose an organization that truly cares about them as a person – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. An organization that genuinely invests in someone’s well-being and doesn’t just see that person as a log in the fireplace of ministry to be used and burned up. An organization that will enable and support people to serve others while also caring for their health and wellbeing. While there are so many things to consider when choosing a missions organization, this is a crucial one when it comes to sustainable ministry.
Greater Europe Mission has an entire department called GEM Wellness that is made up of seven teams completely devoted to the wellness of their missionaries because they desire missionaries to serve in healthy ways rather than serving to the point of burnout. GEM Wellness offers specialized support to help GEM workers flourish spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally, resulting in workers empowered to multiply disciples and grow Christ’s church in Europe.
“All of us in this department care very deeply for our missionaries because we believe in the importance of sharing God’s love across Europe and we know the sacrifices that come along with that,” says Jennifer Barlow, newly appointed Director of GEM Wellness.
GEM Wellness was created in 2021 by combining two existing teams, Member Care and the Spiritual Life Team, into one department to create cohesive care in an increasingly accessible way. By offering different resources through different teams, GEM Wellness provides support and resources for the whole person.
The Spiritual Life Team is focused on helping GEM missionaries become attentive and respond to God’s interactive and transformative presence. They do this by offering resources designed to complement someone’s existing spiritual rhythms.
Focusing on emotional and mental health concerns, the teams formerly grouped together under Member Care consists of Counselors, Missions Pastors, GEM-K, Connecting Hearts, and Sending Entity Member Care.
- GEM-K: A ministry for teens and their families that focuses on creating a safe space to help the teens develop into spiritually and emotionally healthy adults who have personally experienced the transforming work of Jesus in their life.
- Counselors: A team of educated and qualified counselors to help missionaries address mental, emotional, and relational trials.
- Mission Pastors: A group that proactively engages in caring for and supporting missionaries through calls, visits, and opening up their homes.
- Connecting Hearts: 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 the prayerfully prepared content.
- Sending Entity Member Care: 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.
Rounding out the department to give a fully holistic and complete level of care, the Healthy Living Team adds a physical component. Their goal is to encourage & equip missionaries to live as embodied followers of Jesus by implementing healthy lifestyle habits. Together, these teams work to provide support and care to missionaries with the goal of equipping them to thrive in the field, not just survive.
“God cares about [missionaries] as individual people, not just for the work they do. We believe their thriving is important to God, therefore it’s important to us.” Jennifer, as one of GEM’s licensed counsellors, has contributed to many of GEM’s missionaries recognizing this truth and growing in their identity in Christ.
Missionaries are not superhumans. They are saints saved by grace who need community and support to continue the hard work God has called them to do. They serve on the front lines of spiritual battle and Satan will use any weapon against them to thwart their efforts for the Kingdom. It is crucial to properly train, strengthen, and prepare before battle. It is critical to receive support during the fight and care for the wounded, so they can continue fighting. And it is important to receive healing afterwards to be able to live in the fullness of life that God has for each of us.
In these ways, GEM Wellness is available as a resource to equip and sustain missionaries while fighting the spiritual battles that each will most certainly encounter. GEM doesn’t leave missionaries to do this alone. Not only available in times of difficulty, these teams want to help missionaries prevent problems before they occur and to care for problems before they become crises. GEM Wellness is there for you no matter what you are dealing with and what support you need.
Not sure where to go for help? Reaching out to your regional Mission Pastor is a great way to start, but any person in the GEM Wellness department can guide you to the right team.
Looking for an organization that truly cares about you and wants you to thrive on the field? Click here to connect with a mobilizer with Greater Europe Mission!
About the author:
Katey Anderson is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission serving across Europe. Visit thegroundedwanderer.net to learn more.