“There are 100 ways to be isolated,” said Paul College.
He and his wife, Beth, are part of MAF’s Member Care department.
They explain that for missionaries on the field, isolation can look like being the only Westerners in a place, which is what they experienced in Kalimantan, Indonesia, where they served with MAF as a pilot/mechanic family for 10 years.
“Most of MAF’s staff are isolated from things most of us take for granted—reliable power, access to good medical care,” Beth explained. They live in places where they can experience high stress.”
“I think as a human being, you struggle equally just about anywhere you go,” Paul said. “But in these locations you’re far more isolated and have fewer resources to deal with that.”
Even before they transitioned back to the U.S., Paul and Beth had often found themselves in a shepherding role. Their couch had become the place where their teammates could sit and process things.
MAF’s Member Care department could see they were naturally caring for staff and invited them to join the team. The Colleges have been serving in Member Care remotely from the East Coast since 2017, working mainly with overseas staff.
“Most people are looking for someone to listen, to understand them, not to fix them. Being able to offer that has been fulfilling,” Beth said.
MAF is a technical organization that relies on checklists and manuals, and it cares for complex machines.
“But humans can’t be treated like machines. You can’t just apply a certain process and then they’re good to go,” Paul said. “We’re not in the fixing department.”
“We’re in the ‘companioning’ department,” Beth added. “We want to connect with people on a heart and soul level.
Paul and Beth stress that missionaries aren’t superheroes. They carry the same fragility that all people do. They need to hear the same message that they’re taking to isolated people.
“What we’re trying to do is actually offer the good news to MAF staff who are intending to then offer the good news then to the world around them,” Paul said.
This is how Paul and Beth are fulfilling the mission of MAF to bring help, hope, and healing to isolated people. Beth adds, “We just get to do it for MAF staff.”
Member Care is such an important piece of the MAF puzzle, and the Colleges know they can’t do this alone. They’re seeking to grow their team of financial and prayer partners, so they can take even better care of staff that are in difficult places. Visit maf.org/college to join them.
This story ran in the FlightWatch Vol. 3 (summer) 2022 issue: