Many missionaries face discouragement, feeling they have no one to turn to. This is more true than most of us imagine. Some live and work in isolated and/or primitive locations. Many others live on limited offerings, struggling to make ends meet. And they all need encouragement.

8 simple ways to encourage missionaries and lift their weary hands:

Either the missionaries you know, or that your church supports. Or if you don’t know any, or your church doesn’t support any, talk to your pastor about getting involved in this needy area.

1. Pray for missionaries.

Prayer is the greatest need. Both for the missionaries, and for the people they’re trying to reach. Pray for their needs. Pray for the people they ask you to pray for. Pray for the doors they need to see open. And try to recruit others to pray for them too.

2. Stay in touch.

How can we pray effectively for missionaries, if we don’t know what’s going on? Thankfully, today’s technology makes this easier than ever! So call or write to them, or if they have a blog, follow it. And let them know you do by leaving comments, or interacting in some way! 

3. Help and encourage in practical ways.

Offer to help them set up a blog/website, or help in newsletter distribution. Send them (and especially their kids) thoughtful little gifts. Like books, e-books, or music on their favorite music app. Even little things like bookmarks can brighten the day! 

You can also provide housing for them when they’re home on furlough, or a home-cooked meal and fellowship. And try to be patient and understanding if they seem to act a bit odd. For many missionaries the homeland has become a foreign place. When we go back to the states, we struggle to find English words. We no longer understand the customs and culture, and we long for Home.

But one thing we don’t long for is Italian food. Don’t cook missionaries to Mexico Mexican food. They can get the real stuff every day. Or missionaries to Italy Italian food. We have authentic Italian over here every day!

4. Help their kids.

Missionary kids give up a lot for their parents’ choice. They have to leave friends and family. And it’s harder to make new friends across language and culture barriers. Even dollar store goodies stuffed in a padded envelope show them that others remember and care!

Or offer them hospitality or a home-away-from-home if they return to the homeland for schooling. For many MKs (missionary kids) it’s their first time on their own – and so far from family. Help ease their loneliness and their re-entry culture shock. Remember that they have returned to what is to them a foreign land.

5. Be their lifeline of fellowship.

Many missionaries live and work in isolated areas, with little or no fellowship. Many others, especially in the beginning, struggle to communicate in the new language. Even brief notes or Scripture verses show that you’re thinking and praying for them. It helps a lot!

6. Show real interest in their work.

Missions is not just a job. It’s their life, their heart. So find out what’s going on. What they’d like to do, and see happen. Learn of their struggles, their fears, their burdens.

7. Keep in mind how limited their income often is.

It’s hard seeing their own children go without necessities, or the people around them struggling to put food on the table. Be sensitive about sharing details of your comfortable or well-off lifestyle.

8. Share your life and everyday news.

It’s hard being far from friends and family. They need to know how you are, what’s going on, and how they can best pray for you.

It’s really not that hard to lift up the weary hands. But communication is key! And we have found that encouraging others usually lifts our hearts too!

What practical ways have you found for encouraging those who work far from home and family?

Share them in the comments. And could I ask you to please keep us and our here work in prayer?

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

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8 thoughts on “How to Encourage Missionaries

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! For the partners on the home front, it might be hard sometimes to know the best ways to support the missionaries that we send out. This was encouraging and very thoughtful written!

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    1. Thank you Lauren for this helpful input! Long distance communication can be so difficult, and I think especially between missionaries and the home folk. It’s hard to find a good balance between being honest and not complaining. And I also know it can be hard for those who have never lived overseas to really comprehend. All I can say is that it really does get lonely being so far from loved ones, and that missionaries need that extra helping hand or hug to make up for that! Thanks for your comprehension!!

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  2. Another great post, Sheila. I’ve done two short term mission trips; during that time, I appreciated all the prayers and interest people took in the time I was away. Although it wasn’t a long time, I felt the need! I can empathize with those who are gone for such a long time.

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    1. Thanks Jane! Yes, it really does make a difference – especially when you know you’re here for good. Short term missions just isn’t quite the same, because when things get bad you can console yourself with the fact that you’ll be going home soon. But those trips do at least give a taste of what missions is like. At any rate, any missionary friends you have could surely use your encouragement!!

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  3. Sheila, I love your response to Levi, above. You are focused on the blessings, not the challenges! No doubt those who know you take note how faith in Jesus positively impacts your life!

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    1. Thanks Levi! We know that you and Linda haven’t forgotten us. And that means so much! Actually, though, I wrote this post for the many other missionaries we know (and probably countless we don’t know) who struggle.
      We’ve gotten used to the solitude, and know that Christ has used for good in our lives. It forced us to deepen our walk with him. But we do also thank him that he opened doors for us to travel around Italy ministering–that is our source of fellowship. And we don’t have the cultural struggles many missionaries face; this is simply HOME. And lastly, our financial situation has gradually improved. Partly due to more giving, partly to increased teaching hours, and partly that we have finely-tuned simple living!
      We are happy, content, and blessed. But we do know that many Christians miss out on the priviledge of being more involved in their church’s missionary works. Thanks for your caring, support, and prayers. They are a lifeline!!

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