What to do if they insist on going independently
Syzygy, as you may have read in some of our other guides, particularly in our Guide to Going, always recommends that people serve overseas with an agency, especially for their first experience of mission. Yet we recognise that for a few mission workers this is not going to be an option.
Our advice is that you strongly recommend that people go with an agency. If they don’t, they can run into a lot of unforeseen trouble and will probably look to you to help get them out of it. If they don’t take your advice, you can’t prevent them going, so we suggest that you support them to the best of your ability. However, you do need to make clear to them the limitations of what you as a church can do. You probably do not have the cross-cultural expertise of an established sending agency, or the ability to understand and counsel emotionally-damaged mission workers. You probably won’t be able to get them out of prison or help them when they’re in hospital, so they need to be aware in advance that if they choose to go down this route, they are at greater risk. Refer them to our pages on Going it Alone (www.syzygy.org.uk/guides/going-it-alone/), where we have spelled out a lot of the consequences.
It is important that you don’t fall out with mission workers over this; they will lose a valuable supporter and you will lose a valuable member. But you may want to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding with them, just so that there can be no doubt over what they can expect. It’s not a legal contract to be rigorously enforced, but it is there to spell out what is expected of each side. These are standard practice for mission workers serving with agencies, but there is nothing to stop you devising your own. It should spell out what each party should do (and is not expected to do) and should include at least:
- Lines of communication
- Pastoral support
- Re-entry and home assignment