ChinaSource Perspective

Member Care for Workers from China—a Growing Understanding

My first introduction to Chinese Christians going out as cross-cultural workers was in Hong Kong. From time to time a graduate of the seminary where I taught would return from the mission field and speak in the chapel service. Those talks were always fascinating. I was listening to someone from the culture that I had gone to serve share experiences that often mirrored my own in entering their culture. Once I nearly laughed out loud as a speaker lamented the difficulty of learning the Thai language. “It’s a tonal language!” he exclaimed. This coming from someone whose own language—Cantonese (which I had struggled to learn)—has seven tones (some say nine, depending on how you count them). I could identify completely with his frustration.

But other challenges didn’t resonate quite as much. My HK colleague who went to serve in Afghanistan among Muslims had to give up a major part of her diet to avoid pork. I like pork, but it’s not my main meat. Education, often a significant problem for Chinese missionary families, wasn’t a problem for my children. The schools in HK produce students who are fully equipped to enter university—both in Hong Kong and abroad. As an added bonus, the public schools our children went to were run by the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong. They had a Cantonese-based, Christian education at no additional charge to us.  

The more involved I got in the missions community of Hong Kong, the more I realized that my Chinese brothers and sisters who answered God’s calling to cross-cultural missions faced both similar and very different challenges than my husband and I had when we arrived in Hong Kong on a blistering hot and humid July day in 1981.

After joining ChinaSource in 2012, two early projects that I worked on dealt with cross-cultural missionaries sent out from China. The first was the spring 2013 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly on “China’s Indigenous Mission.” It was guest edited by two Chinese workers, one from mainland China, the other from outside of China. I was both appalled at my ignorance of the church in China’s efforts to reach the unreached beyond their borders and amazed at the history and commitment of those workers who were sent out. Since then, we have done two further issues1 as updates on the indigenous missions movement—each time my understanding and awareness improved but the amazement remained.

My second early project was to make publicly available the findings of an American cross-cultural worker’s dissertation, which was based on interviews with Chinese missionaries. Since ResearchShare wasn’t started yet, we created a hybrid series of ChinaSource Blog posts that introduced and pointed to sections of the dissertation that were posted on the website as articles—Missions from China—A Maturing Movement.

In each of those projects,2 the topic of member care came up. The high rate of attrition was mentioned in some and the lack of understanding and resources to care for the workers was lamented. I am thrilled that in this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly we focus on the need for member care and how we, as part of the body of Christ, can help. It is particularly significant that the majority of writers are themselves Chinese. As Jesse Carroll notes at the end of his book review—studies are being done by Chinese mission leaders who are concerned about this issue and resources are being developed. Let’s continue to learn from our Chinese brothers and sisters and join with them to support their efforts in bringing the gospel to those who have yet to hear.


  1. Wu Xi, “Cross-Cultural Missions from China,” ChinaSource Quarterly 18, no. 4 (2016), accessed August 24, 2022, and Wu Xi, “Doing Missions with Chinese Characteristics: Developments in the Indigenous Missions Movement from China,” ChinaSource Quarterly 22, no. 1 (2020), accessed August 24, 2022,
  2. See Dan Chevry, “Beyond the Books: The Heart of Prefield Mission Training,” ChinaSource Quarterly 15, no. 1 (2013), accessed August 24, 2022.; Roy, “The Church in China and World Evangelism,” ChinaSource Quarterly, 18, no. 4 (2016), accessed August 24, 2022.; Wu Xi, “The Heart Cries of Frontline Workers in Muslim Countries: Interviews by the Guest Editor,” ChinaSource Quarterly 22, no. 1 (2020), accessed August 24, 2022.; GJ and Si Shi (四石), “The Impact of Family Issues on Chinese Missionaries: Thinking Through an Approach to Spouse- and Children-Needs of Chinese Missionaries,” ChinaSource, June 22, 2017, accessed August 24, 2022.
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Narci Herr

Narci Herr

Narci Herr and her husband, Glenn, lived for just over 30 years in Hong Kong. They were first involved in working with the church in Hong Kong and then for the last 20 years of their time in Asia they served workers living in China. During that time Glenn traveled extensively throughout China and Narci …View Full Bio