The Force is strong with Member Care
James and Natalie Nelson have been Wycliffe Australia members since 2009. They have been based in Papua New Guinea for 11 years, with James serving as a pilot and Nat working in pathology at a local clinic. This is their experience of returning to Australia amid a global pandemic and being supported by Wycliffe Australia’s Member Care team along the way:
The manner in which we had to depart PNG was quite traumatic for us, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the Australian government, and then Wycliffe Australia, recommending an urgent return to Australia. Our story mirrors many others, with ever-changing plans, last-minute flight cancellations, border closures, travel restrictions and lockdowns.
In many ways it felt like our lives over those two weeks mimicked a Star Wars movie when the small spaceship enters the Death Star (enemy space station) to blow it up from the inside and then escapes through tiny alleyways as the roof falls in and all around there are explosions. The road seems impassable and just about to block off completely, then all of a sudden, they manage to exit through the tiniest opening. That was us.
We were grateful for those who knew what was happening, prayed and did all they could to help from afar. All praise to God who kept doors open and brought us safely back to Cairns!
The Nelsons are now back in Far North Queensland, with Nat working remotely part-time for a clinic in PNG and taking on a new role in the Personnel department. After experiencing the support of the Member Care team, Nat says she is looking forward to helping new members as they begin and guiding members through home assignments: ‘I really enjoy getting to assist all the Wycliffe Australia members who serve all around the world. It feels a bit like multiplying the effort!’
Member Care has been reorganised
The Member Care program has been in the process of restructuring to support the needs of members and staff. Regional Offices have been more involved in the program, with 21 people now directly involved in providing Member Care to new members, regional carers and church-based support groups.
Retirees – a force to be reckoned with!
We keep in touch with 310 retired members. Considering that the retired and former members are advocates and pray-ers for the work and the members, just keeping in touch with them with phone calls, sending Retiree Newsletters, Prayer Words/ Notes, and other Wycliffe publications and providing the Retiree Gatherings are all ways we empower them in these roles.
COVID-19 member movements
On 18 March, all of our members serving overseas were urged to return to Australia in accordance with recommendations from the Australian government.
- 17 Wycliffe Australia families returned from their host countries.
- 22 individual members or families remained in their assigned locations.
- 13 members with overseas assignments were already in Australia and unable to return to their country of assignment.