Missionary Care

The LCMS Office of International Mission supports the well-being of missionary families at every stage of their service.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) 100-plus missionaries have the joy of telling people all around the world about the Savior, Jesus Christ. But life on the international mission field can also come with culture shock, uncertainty, loneliness and many other feelings.

“Our missionaries, just like our church workers here in the states, need support,” says Deaconess Tirzah Krey (pictured with her family), a registered nurse who serves as regional human care coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I often use the example of Martin Luther, who said when you go to church you bring your sack, and it’s empty. When you leave church, it’s full of the gifts you receive there through the Word and Sacraments and fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ,” she says. “I like to pretend I’m running alongside our missionaries, and throughout the week I’m tossing a little something into their bag.”

Krey is part of a six-person team that cares for the missionaries in the region. This team includes two pastors who proclaim the Word of God and offer spiritual care in both English and Spanish.

An important part of Krey’s role is traveling to be with a missionary family during a medical situation. As both a nurse and a deaconess, she is able to help coordinate care and provide support in a unique way. In her day-to-day work, she also “[tosses] … into their bag” by checking in with missionaries, sending notes of encouragement or stopping by with the occasional ice cream.

At the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, Deaconess Ellie Corrow serves behind the scenes as missionary care coordinator for the Office of International Mission (OIM). She collaborates with the regional teams, but she also ensures that missionaries receive holistic care at all stages of their service — from acceptance of their placement to their return home at the end.

“Care starts even in the recruitment stage when we look for a placement that fits the needs of the entire family,” Corrow says. “Our focus is not just on the called worker, but on the entire household,” so that a family is able to transition successfully to the field.

The OIM also provides a rigorous orientation for new missionaries, with a new family curriculum that parents can use to help prepare their children for the move. These concepts are reinforced during the two weeks that the families spend in St. Louis for the on-site portion of orientation. This training helps prepare and equip the entire family for the transition to life on the field.

Through these varied efforts, staff in St. Louis and around the world are supporting the well-being of missionary families — spiritually, emotionally and physically — as they go where the Lord leads. “We all have the same goal: that missionaries would be healthy and stay on the field for as long as the Lord would want them there,” Corrow says. “We’re all working together to make that happen.”

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