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Social Work and Missions: Ministering to the Whole Person

From our beginning in 1949, CMF has seen mission work holistically. Because the Good News of Jesus transforms all areas of life, we intentionally address the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of a person and their community. While we look forward to heaven, we recognize that God’s Kingdom reign should begin transformation in our lives and communities today. 

CMF missionary Michael Grimm understands the importance of ministering to the whole person. He has an undergraduate degree in Youth Ministry with a minor in Social Work from Olivet University and a Master of Social Work from Aurora University. Through internships, he worked with high school students from low-income families/areas to help connect them with resources for after high school and he worked as a case manager with the homeless population.

For the last couple of years, Michael has been serving with the CMF Church Catalyst team in Mexico City.

Part of the team’s work includes operating a community center called Manos de Vida. One service they provide is English as a Second Language (ESL) classes that have the potential to provide different opportunities for professional growth and development. There is also a local leader who provides educational programs (GED equivalent program) for those who have not completed their schooling. Kids are provided a time to play sports and can also receive homework help in English, math, and reading.

Michael hopes he and the team can provide even more services through Manos de Vida. Addiction support, women's health education, and counseling services could be great additions to the services already provided. He also loves putting his social work background to use by training others to know how to address a wider variety of needs.

Michael says, “Social work is a very diverse field so sometimes it is less about the exact path to addressing issues but more of a mental framework in how to approach said problems ethically. I would love to help inspire others to think about how to do this work for the benefit of the community/society. I want to see local Mexican leaders take the lead in engaging the social and community needs, and I want to be there to support them in that process.”

But Michael is dreaming even bigger. He would love the opportunity for prospective social work students to see the work the team does and see the potential of service to low-income, low-access communities in Mexico. Since he has an MSW, he meets one of the requirements to supervise the work of BSW students as a legitimate internship opportunity. CMF’s Exchange Semester program in Mexico provides the framework to serve and gain practical experience in intercultural ministry.

Perhaps you are a social worker, or studying social work, and haven’t considered the possibility of working in missions. Maybe God is calling you to explore missions in Mexico or in another country where CMF serves.

“Some he has called as doctors. Others he has called as pastors. I think he also calls social workers,” Michael says. “We have a unique part to play in His kingdom. In America, we are blessed in that social work has existed for decades; however, that is not the case in all countries. The skillsets of social workers are needed here as much as the skillsets of pastors or doctors. We can work together to combine the spiritual work of ministry with the practical toolset of social work.”

Want to look into using your social work background on the mission field with CMF? Contact us at


Exchange, Mexico City, Michael Grimm, social work

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