Before Southern Baptists charge off in 47,000 different directions trying to help returning missionaries, here are a few resources ALREADY in place that ought to have priority:
Our International Mission Board is closer, more attuned, and in the best position to help. The IMB has a transition team headed by Clyde Meador, IMB’s executive advisor to the president.
“The team is definitely unified and has a great concern for missionaries,” said Meador. “They have many, many ideas of ways to minister to our returning personnel.”
He added that most members of the team have significant field experience and have made the adjustment from international service to life in the U.S.
Meador said that Southern Baptists already are responding with offers of assistance. IMB has received offers of housing, employment opportunities, vehicles, counseling and other practical expressions of support from individuals, churches, associations, state conventions, WMU, seminaries and other partners.
To best serve personnel during this time, Meador said he hopes the team will be able to connect individuals to the resources they most need. After missionaries indicate that they are accepting the VRI, the transition team will send them a detailed questionnaire regarding their expected needs, including housing, child education and other employment opportunities.
The transition team will work to pair specific needs with the offers of assistance from Southern Baptists that the team is receiving.
IMB is easily contacted for those who have things to offer: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the best general avenue to assist all of those affected.
The WMU, which is invaluable to current personnel, is involved.
WMU is seeking to help missionaries who decide to return to the U.S. with housing and transportation.
Missionary housing has long been a ministry provided by WMU through a password-protected database of available housing for missionaries. WMU provides counsel to those who want to learn more about starting a missionary house ministry and facilitates communication between missionaries and those who have houses available for use.
Currently, approximately 530 homes are available for long-term housing and 117 for short-term housing of missionaries made available by churches, associations and individuals in 27 states. WMU is seeking to update the database prior to posting it for missionaries to use in their search for housing if they leave the field.
“If you have a home available to offer to missionaries as they transition back to the U.S., please contact us so we can add your residence to our housing list,” Lee said. “We also know transportation will be a need, so we are contacting those currently on our list to see if they may also have a vehicle they can offer for use.”
Contact email@example.com or (205) 991-8100 with questions or information about housing or transportation for missionaries.
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (my alma mater and that of several here) is making their housing units available. I presume that since MABTS relates closely to IMB, their offer is part of the IMB transition team’s resources. I’m guessing that the six SBC seminaries have some resources that are or will be made available but I have not seen specific proposals or allocations.
I’m for anyone doing most anything for these people and I’m getting the sense that Southern Baptists are now and will continue to be pulling together to manage through and past this crisis. I wouldn’t want to be in my 50s and faced with finding employment, housing, transportation, and medical insurance for the next 10-15 years.