It wasn’t until I moved to a third world country that I understood (and witnessed) what missionaries do. One thing I saw for myself was that missionaries can use all the support we can give. From speaking and knowing two families dear to me here, I have gathered ten ways to encourage your missionaries who are in the field.
Let’s be honest. If you are anything like me at all, you err on the side of caution on most things. My background has made it so I question everything. Some call it discernment, my husband calls it paranoia. Nonetheless, some of us doubt everything until it can be proven. I get it, I understand.
If someone has never gone out to the mission fields, it is difficult to discern who to support or who is real. Missionaries feel they are called to go.
When someone says, “God told me to go…” it raises red flags everywhere to me because I do not ever want to be deceived. I believe the Lord has given us everything we need to fulfill our purpose in his holy Word. I thought, why can’t missionaries just reach out to the lost right where they are planted, where they live?
The Lord only wants a willing heart. You don’t need a resume to “go,” you only need to listen to what the Lord has to say about the great commission in His Word.
Matthew 28: 19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Emphasis mine.
Acts 1:8 says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Emphasis mine.
I realized that I was putting a box around God’s command to “go.” I do not question the motive of missionaries any longer. Their walk has led them right where God wants them if they indeed belong to the Lord. Who am I to question that?
The main thing to note is that God has called us to go and make disciples. Not go and make immature believers. This is precisely what I have seen my friends do in the nation where I live. They don’t just invite people to church. They don’t just tell them to read their Bible.
My missionary friends walk with people day in and day out. They eat with them, read God’s Word with them, invest in their lives, they sacrifice for them. They also get hurt, get mistreated, get used, offended, put down, even put in danger, but every bit of it is for the sake of others knowing Christ.
To say that missionaries need encouragement is an understatement. I want to urge you to do what you can back home to help those in the mission fields.
Here are 10 ways to encourage your missionaries:
1. Can’t commit to a steady offering? That’s OK.
You want to encourage and support your missionary families but can commit to monthly donations? No problem. We can help with one or two things, one or two times. Ask if there is a bill you can pay directly, or give a one-time amount once a year. Everything helps. I hear stories when these one-time gifts come at exactly the perfect times of need.
2. Affiliate links.
Are you a mompreneur? You can set up an affiliate link on your site where a portion of sales or a sale item goes to a missionary family.
Even one dollar out of a sale is helpful. For instance, where I live, the US dollar value almost doubles our money. Where you think a dollar is not much, a missionary family calls it a blessing.
3. Provide unused books and educational resources
Most families have homeschool resources or books lying around. Receiving these types of materials are like gold to missionary families. It can get hard to acquire teaching material in remote locations, but getting items your family doesn’t need is a treasure.
4. Send them updates and pictures of your family
It can get lonely away from home, even for those who know they are in the middle of God’s will. Even the most on-fire missionary ever can miss home. It is uplifting to receive photos of people or letters from those who love them and are praying for them.
5. Ask them questions about their work.
Sometimes it can feel as if they are treading water, going nowhere. People come and go in the lives of missionaries, and it can get discouraging. When they can talk to others about their work, they can reflect and see God’s work in it all, even the bad times.
6. Send care packages.
I am not a missionary, but I can tell you that to receive a package while living abroad is WONDERFUL. There is nothing like it. With missionaries, this feeling is the same, if not more.
Receiving gifts shows that people care and took time out of their busy schedules. Missionaries often think of themselves less as they put the needs of others before their own. Getting a care package reminds them that they aren’t alone and are loved.
7. Don’t forget the kids.
Many times we can forget that the kids of missionaries also face their own challenges in a different country. Encourage your kids to be pen pals with missionary kids.
Kids also give a lot of themselves, and we tend to forget they go through tough times. Send them notes as well, have your children practice their writing or drawing skills to encourage the young ones.
8. Send reminders.
You may not have the time to send a full letter to your missionaries, but you can shoot them a quick message. Thank the Lord for the internet! Just tell them “we prayed for you today” or let them know when they came up in your prayer time to lift their spirits.
9. Send acts of kindness when they are back in their home country.
When your missionaries return for a time or a visit, seek ways to help them. Stay with the kids for a mom and dad date night-out. Pay for a family dinner out, or invite them over for a meal. January 14 is Take a Missionary to Lunch Day, so it’s the perfect time to make that gesture.
I have even heard of people allowing missionary families to enjoy a few days in a summer home or cabin for a few days to unwind or decompress.
10. Ask how you can pray for them and pray intentionally
Above all else, one thing that these families need is prayer. Not just saying you will pray for them, but they wholeheartedly need your prayers. One of my friends said she covets people to pray with her or send her a genuine prayer in a message.
Acts 13: 1-3 clearly explains what we should do for our missionaries:
“Now in the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen … and Saul [Paul]. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Emphasis mine.
Being in the mission field can be draining and leave missionaries feeling empty at times. Sometimes the prayer warrior can use some prayer; so does the missionary need encouragement as they encourage others to follow Christ.
What is our great commission?
We are also missionaries to people all around us. Not all of us are called to other nations. Clearly, in Acts 13, people stood behind as others were sent. Look around you to people God has placed in your path and make disciples. The great commission is for us all.
Therefore, we encourage one another to spread God’s Word. Encourage each other to walk with people, to tell people about Jesus, read His Word with others and train our children in the way they should go. And never forget these ways to encourage your missionaries called to spread the Gospel in other nations.
Want to help some missionaries in Tonga?
If you don’t know any missionaries, feel free to check out my friends here in Tonga.
Follow them on Facebook here. Our family is linking up with the Paquette’s in their journey and it is all pretty exciting. Note: You won’t want to miss the super cool treehouse they built and stay tuned for the campgrounds they will use to help out the youth in the community.
The Halalilo family has plans to teach adults skills they need to make a living in the workforce and take care of their families, including small scale biogas plants.
Here are some resources on missionaries you might want to grab:
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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