Monday, January 27, 2014

10 Ways to Support Missionaries that DON'T Involve Money

I am so thankful for the many Christians who have faithfully supported me in various personal ways. There are unique challenges in living overseas, as well as in returning home from an extended period in a foreign culture. Here are some ways I have been supported and encouraged. I hope you will likewise encourage other missionaries.

  1. Pray: I firmly believe that money may send a missionary to the field, but prayer is what makes us effective. But don’t stop there; tell us  that you are praying for us. When you receive a prayer request from us via email or on Facebook, etc., send a quick reply. Keep it short, as we are busy; but we are so encouraged to know that someone actually is reading our requests — and praying!

  2. Keep us Connected: Communicate with us while we are overseas. Help us stay up on you, your family, and your church.

  3. Combat Homesickness: Send a care package. Ask us what we miss and cannot get in our particular nation. I loved the homemade fudge I received in Japan! I also received a photo of a pre-school Sunday School class with a foam frame that said, “We’re praying for you!” It stayed on my fridge until the day I left Japan.

  4. Send us Off/Welcome us Home: Have a commissioning during worship to acknowledge our service and your partnership in our ministry. Meet us at the airport. Throw a party for our departure and return.

  5. Stateside Housing: When we return from overseas, help us find appropriate housing, whether permanent or until we return to the field. A “missions house” is ideal - it might be owned or rented by a church for the use of missionaries. It is comfortably furnished. Perhaps you have a guest house, an “in-law suite,” or an extra room. Missionaries cannot buy housewares for our regular and temporary stays in America. And we need some normality and a place to call our own.

  6. Cars/Mini-vans: Finding appropriate temporary transportation can be difficult. Keep your eye out for an affordable car or mini-van for returning missionaries. Upon my return to the States, a very good friend signed over an extra car he is saving for his daughter. It’s legally mine so I can insure it and even take it across the border into Canada. Upon my return to Japan, I will sign it back over to him. (He gets to be the first I saw upon my return and the last I’ll see when I leave!) What a blessing!

  7. Ask Thoughtful Questions: Ask us about our ministries, family life, the culture. Don’t just ask about weird foods! We need to share the significant experiences we’ve just had. It helps us adjust to life here and to reconnect with our friends and family. Honestly, very few people asked me anything of significance upon my return to the States, and it was very difficult to deal with that.

  8. Offer Your Services: Are you a CPA? Offer to help with taxes. A doctor? Offer a free office visit  Counselor? Help us process our experiences. Mechanic or “car guy”? Offer help with our old cars! What do you do, or can you do? Your help is appreciated so much!

  9. Introduce Us: We often need to expand our network of financial supporters. Introduce us to your interested friends.

  10. Include Us from Overseas: Does your church do an annual missions conference? Do you ever have guest missionaries speak at Sunday School or during worship? Depending on the technology available to the missionary, it may be easy to include missionaries overseas via Skype.