We’re often asked by people, “But what can we do to really go above and beyond in loving our missionaries?”
Missionaries and their families struggle the same way we all do — but their struggles are often magnified by health and security risks, exposure to different cultures and languages, and home-sickness for their loved ones and home community. It can be hard to know how to tangibly care for them above and beyond the needed financial support.
As you send missionaries out to share the gospel with the world — in sometimes extraordinary circumstances — we’d like to offer some suggestions for how you can deepen your relationship with your missionaries even from a distance.
So, we asked a few Serge missionaries to share some fresh ideas on how you can love and encourage the missionaries in your life (and help them make a deeper impact for the gospel!)
Here’s what they shared with us —
1) Reply to their prayer updates.
Don’t be shy! Sending a quick reply lets them know you’re actually reading their updates and that you care about what they’re doing. Follow up on prayer requests.
If you’ve prayed for them, tell them! It’s so encouraging to hear that someone is actually praying. Even just a short reply will remind missionaries that they really do have a community back home who remembers and cares for them.
2) Send them updates about you and your family (with pictures!) by mail or email.
Missionaries want to stay connected to you too! It’s especially nice to receive end-of-the-year updates or Christmas card pics of your family. By the way — if you’re sending an email, know that internet connectivity in some countries can make it difficult to receive long attachments.
And if you are writing to a missionary in a Creative Access Country, be sure that you know the security guidelines. But don’t let that deter you! Ask your missionary what’s the best way to stay in touch.
3) Focus on their country for VBS and teach your kids about their country.
Teaching your children about your missionaries’ country will impact both your missionaries and your children. Your children will develop a personal connection to the global church, and your missionaries will be thrilled to share what they know.
You can set up a time for your missionaries to Skype into your VBS to give the kids a fuller picture of what life in their country is like. And — an added bonus — if your family or church takes a short-term trip to visit your missionary, your children will have an even deeper relationship with your missionaries and the people they serve!
4) Pray for the people the missionaries serve.
Ask follow-up questions about the people your missionaries write about in their updates and pray for them as a family. God changes the world one community, one person at a time.
When one new person believes, there is no telling what the ripple effect can be! But often, because of cultural circumstances, new believers risk losing their family, friends, jobs, and standing in society. They need the prayers of the Church for courage and steadfastness to grow their new faith.
And your missionaries need your prayers for wisdom in how to disciple and walk with them.
5) Set up a Skype time with your Sunday School class so that you can corporately pray for them.
If your church financially supports your missionaries, you can deepen your corporate support by praying for them — and with them. Coordinate a Skype time for your missionaries to share their joys and burdens with your Sunday school class, and then spend time praying for them as a class.
As you pray for your missionaries, your heart will be encouraged by what God is doing in the global church!
6) Send them a care-package.
Everyone loves getting mail from a friend. A small box of items from friends far away can put a smile on your missionary’s face and make their day. Ask mutual friends or your small group to contribute.
Let your missionary know to be on the look-out for a package, and ask them the best way to send it to avoid it getting held up in customs. And as always, even a letter sent via snail mail is exciting and gives your missionary a tangible connection to you.
7) Take a short-term trip to visit them.
Set aside your summer vacation for one year and take a trip to visit your missionaries. If the cost of an overseas trip seems daunting to you, ask your missionaries if they can help provide room and board, either with them or with someone in their city.
Use a flight tracker app to notify you of price drops and special deals before you purchase your flights. You can ask your missionary if there is a specific week that you could come serve in their ministry, and then ask friends and family to financially support your trip.
Visiting your missionaries will be an encouragement to both you and your missionary!
8) Share new, inspiring resources you’ve found — sermons, a book, a podcast, or a website.
It’s not always possible to stay on top of the latest trends on the mission field. But sharing these resources with your missionary can help them find quality materials more easily and will be very encouraging.
It could be a verse that encouraged you during your quiet time, an anecdote from a sermon that made you think of them, or a blog that has been impacting you. And it is another way of letting them know what is going on with you.
9) When they return for home assignment, tangibly care for them with gift cards for Amazon, Target, coffee, gas, etc.
Many missionaries spend a great deal of their time back “home” on the road visiting churches, friends/family, and supporters. This can be exhausting and often requires a fair amount of travel.
You can help with gift cards, or even donate your frequent flier miles. Or ask your missionaries what they would especially appreciate. Surprising your missionary with one on a special day or just for fun can be a tremendous encouragement!
10) Support the Missionary Care efforts of their sending agency.
It’s easy to think that becoming a missionary is as simple as buying a plane ticket and heading overseas. But really, effective missionary fieldwork requires a whole team of workers back home. One of the best ways to practically support your missionaries is to also support their agency’s Missionary Care team. They equip missionaries with cross-cultural training, language acquisition skills, spiritual renewal, crisis management and emergency assistance, third-culture kid support, team-building and conflict management skills, and much more. When missionaries have help with the consuming details of cross-cultural living — they are freed up to focus on sharing the love of Jesus with those around them — which leads to a deeper impact for the gospel.
As part of the team sending your missionaries, you are a vital part of their ministry. They are only able to focus on sharing the love of Jesus with those around them because they have a team of people — including you — at home who have their back.
Thank you for caring for your missionaries and for your heart to see the gospel go forth to the nations.