F.A.R.M. Trains Veterinarians for Mission

F.A.R.M. Trains Veterinarians for Mission

Mary McDonald has a passion for animals. As a veterinarian she blends the care for animals with the Gospel. She and her husband Jack, have a farm in Virginia where they raise and care for animals, but also use it as a demonstration farm for helping to prepare vets for global ministry.

This month she will lead the largest Farm Animal Refresher for Missions course she has ever had with twenty vets. “It’s very hands on,” says Mary. “Many vets including small animal vets do not always feel comfortable going on short-term mission trips with Christian Veterinary Mission* when they know they have to do large-animal work. A few years ago, I decided to host this refresher course called F.A.R.M. (Farm Animal Refresher for Missions). It helps them get up to speed and refresh things they learned in vet school but haven’t done in a while.”

Dr. Mary uses her farm horses and neighbors loan out sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs. They cover things like safe handling, vaccinating, deworming, and they review some of the different diseases that they might encounter in the majority world but wouldn’t necessarily encounter in the U.S. “I also show them how to do an animal workshop using participatory methodology for the field,” says Mary.

But the refresher isn’t just about veterinary work – it’s also spiritual. “I teach a workshop on how to share the Gospel, how to write and share your testimony, and a worldview analysis for cultural differences. We eat, share fellowship, and encourage each other as we prepare for the upcoming overseas work we will be doing.”

“I ask the vets to present their testimony as if they were in a village and were sharing their story and weaving the Gospel into it. It’s such a privilege to teach these vets who want put their skills to use, but who also want to be ambassadors for Christ.”

More about Mary and Jack McDonald: Missionary profile

The McDonalds are missionaries with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, with whom they previously served in Cochabamba, Bolivia, teaching animal husbandry and helping in micro-finance projects. In addition to their work as Deacons at The River Anglican Church, Mary has developed a large-animal demonstration site at their home in Catawba where she prepares U.S. vet teams for global ministry. Mary is also overseeing goat projects as part of an evangelism and community development program in Uganda and works with International students at Virginia Tech as well as with Veterinary students.

*SAMS has a collaborative Partnership with CVM through Mary’s ministry.

SAMS Retreat for the Americas

SAMS Retreat for the Americas

SAMS Missionaries and home office staff gathered last week at the Casa San Carlos Retreat Center in Delray Beach, Florida, for a time of refreshment and rejuvenation. The four day retreat provided the Missionaries time to connect with each other and to share what the Lord is doing in their lives. We were led in worship by Hunter Van Wagenen, a SAMS Associate Missionary. Hunter led the group through a series of reflections from his time over the last fifteen years on the Camino de Santiago. Hunter compared and contrasted his experience walking the 500-mile pilgrim’s path in northern Spain to the various stages of missionary service: Preparing to Go, Starting Out, Lost in the Middle, and Finishing Well.

Mike and Kim Miller, SAMS Associate Missionaries who live in St. Petersburg, led the group through the TCK (Third Culture Kids) Care Program that has launched this month to provide resources for Missionary Parents whose children are in the field with them. Mike Miller also led the group through a time of listening to God and thinking about Spiritual Discernment while helping the group apply those disciplines to their current ministries.

His reflections were received very well and were interspersed with break-out groups for times of sharing, listening and prayer. There was plenty of time to walk around the Retreat Center, play games, take group walks at nearby wetlands, soak in the jacuzzi, and talk over meals. On the last day some of the missionaries headed to the beach. Most importantly, God was present and active in the conversations, in the times of prayerful discernment, and in the one-on-one time that each missionary had with the Lord.


New Program Launching for TCK Care of SAMS Families

New Program Launching for TCK Care of SAMS Families

The topic of third-culture kids (TCK) is like talking inside baseball. It’s a topic that most Christians have never heard of, much less considered, even if they do support missionaries. Yet, unlike change-ups and four-seam fastballs, it’s no game. It’s a dynamic that is present within missionary families and sending organizations. SAMS is pleased to announce a new program aimed at helping families with TCKs.

SAMS Associate Missionary, Kim Miller, is mobilizing a new TCK Care program specifically designed for SAMS missionary families. After serving with SAMS in Honduras for 14 years, Mike and Kim Miller learned first-hand the joys and challenges associated with raising a family overseas. When they repatriated to the U.S. in 2020, their daughters faced not only cultural adjustments but significant grief and emotional challenges.

Third-culture kids are those who are raised in a culture other than their parents or of the culture of their nationality. Because of this, ‘home’ is a complex concept for missionary kids whose citizenship is in one country, but their upbringing, or a significant part of it, is in another.

A recent Christianity Today article, ‘The Kids Are Not Alright,’ states that an estimated 425,000 foreign missionaries are serving around the world, and many are American. Regardless of their national origin, many of the kids of these families feel helpless.

Some are stuck in the United States having left because of the pandemic. Others are back in the U.S. to attend high school or college. There are other reasons as well, but the common thread is a loss of identity. With this loss comes grief, confusion, disillusionment, and even loss of faith.

In fact, a 2021 TCK Training survey indicates the level of trauma missionary kids experience is much higher—nearly double that of kids growing up in the United States. The real challenge is that these kids’ needs are often overlooked, according to TCK advocate Lauren Wells. “There is a myth that children are simply naturally resilient,” she says. “But resiliency is something that has to be nurtured and built and cared for.”

Mission societies, local churches, partners, and even families on and off the mission field are responding. While searching for resources to help their daughters process their grief, Kim Miller dove into the world of TCK care and discovered a new opportunity for ministry. Kim’s husband, Mike Miller, on the other hand, was motivated by his desire to see missionary fathers lead their families well and has been taking courses in spiritual formation and pastoral care. Together, the Millers will be using their past experiences and newly developed skills to serve SAMS missionary families.

The Miller family currently live in Florida where they continue to nurture families, support children impacted by trauma, and daily live their faith by pointing others to Jesus. The Millers will be phasing in this TCK Care program in early 2024. Please be prepared for more forthcoming information on this important program, and join us in praising God for the Millers and their heart for missionary kids.