What is GEM Wellness?

Wellness Ministries for Missionaries

Anyone hoping to serve in long-term ministry should choose an organization that truly cares about them as a person. 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 many things to consider when choosing a missionary sending agency, member care is crucial to sustainable ministry. 

Greater Europe Mission recently launched the GEM Wellness department. Made up of seven teams completely devoted to the wellness of their missionaries, they want global workers to serve from a place of health rather than burnout. GEM Wellness offers specialized support to help GEM workers flourish spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally, empowering cross-cultural workers 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. We know the sacrifices that come along with that,” says Jennifer Barlow, newly appointed Director of GEM Wellness. 

Wellness Ministries for Missionaries

Formed in 2021, GEM Wellness combined two existing teams––Member Care and the Spiritual Life Team––into one department, creating cohesive care in an increasingly accessible way. By offering varied 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. GEM-K provides a safe space to help teens develop into spiritually and emotionally healthy adults who personally experience 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: Ministers who proactively care for and support missionaries through calls, visits, and opening up their homes. 
  • Connecting Hearts: A women’s ministry that connects women to God, themselves, and others through annual retreats. Connecting Hearts allows women within GEM to meet together, rest, and learn from prayerfully prepared content. 
  • Sending Entity Member Care: This team is assesses the mental and emotional readiness of individuals and couples applying to GEM. They also offer a retreat to care for missionaries after each term of service.   

Rounding out the department to give a fully holistic 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 says. As one of GEM’s licensed counsellors, she helps missionaries recognise this truth and grow their identity in Christ. 

Wellness Ministries for Missionaries
Bob and Kathie Schwerdt live in England and serve as mission pastors for GEM workers in the UK and parts of Western Europe.

Missionaries are not superhumans. They are saints saved by grace who need community and support to continue the work God has called them to. They serve on the front lines of spiritual battle. 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. Further, they need space to receive healing to live in the fullness of life God has for each of us. 

In these ways, GEM Wellness equips and sustains missionaries as they fight the spiritual battles most of us will encounter. GEM doesn’t leave missionaries to do this alone. 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.