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?