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El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

For over the past ten years in Member Care, we have talked a lot about the “pyramid of care” and how local resources, nationals, etc., can all play a significant role in providing care. The following is a true story of what that can or may look like!

“Do you have a mirror,” she asked, “Because I don’t know who I am.” These are words I will likely never forget from a Palestinian woman fleeing both Gaza and her husband.

This past April I spent six days along the Red Sea Coast in southeastern Egypt providing trauma counseling for children with UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). Every month in my hometown of Genoa, Italy, I counsel various refugee children fleeing the horrors of war. Many of the counseling sessions are done in English with a translator. After the escalation of the conflict in Israel, UNICEF contacted me and other counselors at our pediatric hospital to see if we would be interested to go to Egypt at one of the refugee camps to help children process their trauma. We, of course, said yes.

Upon arriving at the airport in southern Egypt, I knew this was going to be a challenging six days. Out of our team of 20 counselors, only two of us were Christian. With each passing day, the UNICEF trucks would bring in new people, children from Israel, Gaza, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, and Ukraine. I was assigned to the males, as naturally, men were not allowed to talk directly to the Muslim women. By the second day, I was already exhausted. Not physically, but emotionally by the stories the children told. My heart was heavy. Then God did something miraculous!

In the afternoon of the second day, I was assigned to a young, Palestinian child who fled Gaza (for the sake of privacy, we will call him Efram). Because Efram was so young, his mother asked to participate in the counseling sessions with me and a translator. Before I even began to listen to Efram, his mother got up and started screaming in Arabic. Throughout the complex, all eyes were instantly drawn to this Palestinian woman screaming. I asked my translator to please translate what she was saying.

She kept yelling, “Enough!” in Arabic. She then proceeded to slowly take off her Hijab and burka and throw them into the pool of the complex. She was now standing there in front of everyone in nothing but her undergarments. But she was yelling something else now: “Enough! Enough of serving a God and a culture who say I need to cover up because I’m not pure or worthy! Enough of a culture who says my testimony is worth half that of a man only because I’m a woman. Enough of blaming others for our decisions! I can’t take it anymore. I’m done.”

No one knew what to say or what to do. To put this into context, her words did not exactly sit well with those who heard her—this was Egypt after all—a Muslim culture, and she was surrounded by many other Muslim women who did not appreciate what she was screaming.

Then she turned to me and said (another taboo, as Muslim women don’t often directly address a man) and asked me, “hey you, aren’t you one of the Christians here? I thought I saw you with a Bible.”

I had to look at my boss to see if it was okay that I said I was a Christian, seeing as I was contracted with UNICEF. He nodded to indicate it was okay. She then asked, “What does Jesus say about women?” I looked up to the sky, smiled, and said to myself, “Lord where did this gift to evangelize suddenly come from?”

I knew I didn’t have much time to answer this woman and I knew translation would be difficult. Wheels were spinning in my head. Then the idea came to me to find the clip from the series “The Chosen” on my phone via YouTube where Jesus meets the woman at the well. Thankfully, I was able to find Arabic subtitles and get the woman to watch the clip. Tears instantly came streaming down her face. She then asked me a series of questions: “This woman wasn’t a Jew and Jesus asked HER for water? Didn’t this take place in my land? (She is a Palestinian woman). And Jesus was patient and kind and showed mercy to her? And she didn’t have to hide from him?”

Then she got up and started screaming again, but this time with her hands in the air and one of the widest smiles I have ever seen, saying in Arabic again “I want to know Jesus!  I want to know Jesus! I want to know a God who sees me. Who here can tell me more about Jesus.”

My boss looked at me and said, “What have you done?” I answered, “The beauty of it? I honestly didn’t do anything!”

Finally, the woman stopped and asked if someone had a mirror, because in her words, “I don’t know who I am. I know who my husband (now ex-husband) says I am and what this culture says I ought to be, but I don’t know who I am.” She then asked some of the women if they would take her shopping because she said she has no idea how to do her hair or how to shop for other clothes.

For the rest of our days with this woman, my colleague, the other Christian woman, and I walked this woman through Genesis 16 and the story of Hagar. Usually, the story of Abraham and Sarai is told through their perspective, but my colleague and I told this woman that God heard Hagar, saw her, and that she in turn calls God by the name EL Roi, the God who sees me! Never has that passage meant so much to me.

Since the woman had a talent for drawing, her therapy for the week was to eventually be able to draw herself so that she could ultimately be able to say…. “THIS is me; this is who I am.”

We talk in Member Care a lot about the new paradigm shift in care and that locals and lay people can provide care as well as the professionals. In this instance, who is the caregiver who is going to have the most impact in this woman’s transformation? It’s not just my colleague who helped her draw herself in those six days, but it’s also the women who will take her shopping, who will help her find a style to do her hair, and the women that will sit with her and remind her that Jesus is indeed El Roi, the God who sees her!  

This woman has a difficult road ahead of her, as she has chosen to not return to her home but wants to seek an education and a new career path in Europe, where she will hopefully be safe to study and learn about Jesus. She has, arguably, already passed through the most difficult step. She has chosen a new life with Jesus! Who else will be providing care for this woman? The church community who receives her in Europe and the people who will receive her in her new home. It will be a collective effort, a true pyramid of care! Her story is just beginning, and I am so glad I got to be a part of it!

Jesus met her there in Egypt, saw her and He, El Roi, has set her free!

Picture of Mihai Lundell

Mihai Lundell

Mihai Lundell is a member of the board of Member Care Europe and a mission worker providing member care in Italy with OCI.

Picture of Mihai Lundell

Mihai Lundell

Mihai Lundell is a member of the board of Member Care Europe and a mission worker providing member care in Italy with OCI.

A true story of how local resources, nationals, etc., can all play a significant role in providing member care.

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Christian Quartier

He is married to Simone and is father of 3 adult TCK. He is passionate about strengthening, resourcing and empowering cross-cultural Workers and their families through debriefing, critical incident debriefing and brief counselling. Restoring a sense of peace (shalom and wholeness) in their lives when that peace has been disturbed or shattered is at the core his ministry. He is also active in membercare training and consultancy.

Scott Shaum

Scott Shaum‘s deep joy is living life with his wife, Beth, their three sons and wives, and three grandchildren. That and really good food shared amongst a bevy of friends; or in solitude with a stack of books. As Associate Director of Barnabas International (20 years) and an ordained pastor, the Father’s goodness in his life is reflected as a pastoral, companioning presence with other shepherd-leaders scattered globally and locally. A scary-tough decade resulted in authoring The Uninvited Companion: God’s Shaping Us in His Love Through Life’s Adversities. He has contributed to Trauma and Resilience (ed. Schaefer and Schaefer) and Tender Care (Barnabas Books). You can find his latest rambles at

Gary W.

Gary W. left the US in 1983, following a call from the Lord to serve overseas, and served as a tentmaker in France until 1988 and then in Switzerland where he lives now. As a professional, he worked full-time as a research chemist and in later years as an IT specialist. In terms of ministry, he has served mostly in pastoral settings with services of teaching, preaching, counseling, and inner healing. Since taking an early retirement in 2013, he has done short-term ministry trips in eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. He joined OM in 2017 and has been doing pastoral care for workers in Asia through short visits and online. Gary is married to Beverly and they have five adult children.

Cathy Thompson

Cathy Thompson is a missionary kid with degrees in Physical Education, Anthropology, and Cross-Cultural Leadership. She has further studies in Ministry Leadership Development, Member Care, Conflict Management, Counseling, Child Safety and Forensic Investigation. Since 1992, Cathy has served with Pioneers as Team Leader in Hungary and since April 2009 as Area Leader for East Central Europe. Cathy also serves as Pioneers’ Child Safety Officer for Europe, as a member of several working groups on training and leadership development, and on the executive team of Shoulder to Shoulder. She is committed to seeing teams work well as they incorporate singles, couples and families into multicultural teams.

Charley Warner

Charley Warner has been involved in member care in Eurasia since 1992. He and his wife, Cheryl, serve with Barnabas International and live in Irpin, Ukraine. Charley is also a board member of Member Care Europe.

Suzy Grumelot

Suzy Grumelot has served with World Team in urban church planting in France for the past 35 years. In 2012, with French partners, an historic new church was birthed in central Paris. In addition to discipling women and overseeing Bible studies, Suzy is involved with training, networking, prayer, and mentoring of new believers and church planters. She serves on the executive team of Shoulder to Shoulder and is the co-author of Sacred Siblings: Valuing One Another for the Great Commission.

Amrei Wehmeyer

Amrei Wehmeyer has been working with DMG interpersonal and TEAM in Portugal since 1991. She is currently leading the Member Care Center ReCanto da Fonte in Lourinhã on the Silver Coast of Portugal. Amrei also serves on the board of Member Care Europe.

Barry Danylak

Barry Danylak is an international speaker, author, and pastor-theologian with expertise on topics related to singleness, marriage, sexuality, and family in the biblical and modern world. Barry serves as Executive Director of SEE Global, a ministry based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada that equips church leaders around the world. He is ordained and has served as a pastor for over 10 years with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada. Barry holds a PhD in New Testament with the Divinity Faculty of the University of Cambridge and is author of Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life, Singleness in God’s Redemptive Story, and a forthcoming book, Paul and Secular Singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, scheduled for release by Cambridge University Press in 2024.

Maria Techow

Maria Techow is a Clinical Psychologist in Denmark with a heart for mission. In her working life she is the head of department for Psychiatry & Existence, and Competence Unit for Expats at Center for Family Development. She has been working with mission organizations for more than 13 yeas, screening candidates for the mission fields, offering crisis counselling and online therapy and helping families in their re-entry process, among other initiatives leading TCK groups for years. She is the co-author of the book: GO! My personal guide and diary before, during and after moving abroad, an interactive book for TCKs. The book is as a starting point for conversations between children and their parents, for children’s groups, in schools and across cultures and border. She is the mother of four, a writer and a speaker in various Christian settings. Maria is also a board member of Member Care Europe.

Evi Rodemann

Evi Rodemann lives in Hamburg, Germany and works as a theologian and event manager. She engages in the international work of the Lausanne Movement and the Mission Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance as well as being the CEO of her own organisation LeadNow. Her focus is the younger leaders generation. She has a Master in European Mission and Intercultural Christianity and currently works on her PhD researching event impact.,

Rafael Năstase

Rafael Năstase is a missionary who served with his wife Alice, seven years in Republic of Moldova, being involved with Operation Mobilisation (OM) in church planting, discipleship and mobilizing churches for missions. Returning in his home country, Romania, he stepped in the leadership position from 2007-2019 as National Director of OM. Now he coordinates the church relation department of OM in Romania and is the national member care facilitator. Rafael has a BA in Philosophy and Journalism and got a master in Theology at Baptist faculty. Being born in a Romani (Gypsy) family he is passionate working towards getting his doctorate in ecclesiology and ethnography at the University of Bucharest, researching on the role of the church in transforming Roma communities. Rafael also serves on the board of Member Care Europe.

Sonja Pichler

Sonja Pichler is a happy single, born originally in Germany and has been living in Switzerland since 2010. During her time in Switzerland, she finished her studies as a counsellor; currently she is responsible for Member Care in OM Switzerland. In the international setting of OM she is involved in the Face2Face courses, both German and English. For the AEM in Switzerland she ministers in the annual debriefing week for intercultural workers. Sonja also works for a local church and as a licensed counsellor, both part time. Her professional qualifications are Psycho-Social Counsellor, Trauma focused counselling, Supervision (in process). She simply loves to see people thrive in who they are and who they are becoming. Her recreational oasis she finds in reading, walking and journaling (Bullet point and Bible Art). Creativity is one of her big resources.

Mihai Lundell

Mihai Lundell has helped to form national member care networks in countries like Romania and Italy. He served for over 20 years as a missionary and country director for the mission One Challenge in Romania before he and his wife Tammy accepted a new challenge in Genova, Italy caring for and coming alongside local pastors and Christian leaders. As a member of the European Member Care Board, Mihai works to build Member Care awareness and networks in eastern and central European countries that are just beginning to understand the need for MC. He is passionate about building bridges between new and old generations and making sure the voices of Eastern Europe are heard and respected. He is a former investigative journalist for WCCO television in Minneapolis with a doctorate in missions from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN and a masters in child psychology, trauma and developmental disorders from the University of Minnesota. Currently he collaborates with the Gaslini Institute in Genoa Italy in child trauma counseling and serves as an advisor for the Association of Christian Counselors in Italy.

Sarah Hay

Sarah Hay has a background in HR, initially in the National Health Service, UK and then in Nepal with International Nepal Fellowship for 3 years, where she also began member care for expatriate mission workers. After returning to UK and starting a family, Sarah began working as HR and Member Care Manager with European Christian Mission Britain, where she’s been for almost 15 years.  This continues to involve her in the recruitment and preparation of new workers, their member care whilst overseas plus debriefing and re-entry assistance when they return. Since 2015, Sarah also became Course Leader of the MA in Member Care at Redcliffe College, before then developing a new MA in Staff Care and Wellbeing at All Nations Christian College following the college merger. She has the best of both worlds in being a member care provider but also an equipper and encourager of member care students across the world. Last but by no means least, Sarah is married to Rob and has two sons who are now both at university. Sarah is also a board member of Member Care Europe.

Jonathan Ward

Jonathan Ward is involved in the Federation of Francophone Evangelical Missions and its member care network (, and he serves at a retreat centre in France dedicated to caring for pastors and cross-cultural workers ( He and his wife Rachel were raised on the mission fields of France and Angola respectively. They have three adult children. Jonathan also serves on the board of Member Care Europe.