Caring for Our Missionaries
Imagine It’s You
Focus in and imagine for a moment, imagine you were going to a foreign country to spread the gospel. Would you be comforted in knowing that your church is praying for you? Think about what you might miss. Relationships – being able to catch up freely with friends, or go out for dinner with your extended family? What about birthdays? (Especially birthday presents.) Missing Christmas at home? Not only that, but you’re entering a different culture, the environment is different, most speak a different language to you, and you feel daunted by the reality that spreading the gospel in this new context is going to be harder than you initially realised.
This is the reality for many of the missionaries that we support, and as you can imagine, having the constant support and prayers of Christian brothers and sisters (even people you haven’t met before), can be incredibly comforting and encouraging in advancing the gospel. You feel much less lonely when people back home are involved with you in this work of evangelising the lost.
I’d like to put a few points from Scripture to you to encourage you in caring for our missionaries, and then I’ll offer some practical ways that we can support these brothers and sisters on mission at home and around the globe. As I write, I am not using the word “support” simply to refer to financial support, but generally to practical ways we can genuinely love our missionaries.
Do We Love Our Brothers and Sisters on Mission?
Firstly, I want to ask – do we love our brothers and sisters on mission? There are many places in Scripture that talk about love, and one that is often overlooked is from the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:15 – where he offers a command which characterises genuine love, saying:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Are we loving people on mission like this?
How deeply must you love a brother and sister when your rejoicing is their rejoicing, and their weeping is yours. What love is it as your heart breaks when tragedy strikes in their lives and it drives you to prayer, or when you’re filled with great rejoicing as you hear news of God working in them in powerful ways to declare His glory. What an incredible way to support those that leave everything to go and proclaim the gospel – by loving them with genuine brotherly love.
Does It Cost Us?
Secondly, is it costing you anything to love and support the missionaries that we care for? Loving our missionaries will come at a cost. Opening your wallet to help fund gospel work is costly, but so is prayer, so is taking time to write letters or emails, or making phone calls. It will cost us something to support mission work, yet how little does our sacrifice seem when we do it in response to the One who sacrificed His life for us. 1 John 4:19 says:
“We love because he first loved us.”
Consider this too, all that you spend for mission and for our missionaries, is for God’s blood-bought people from all tribes, languages and nations rejoicing for an eternity around the throne of God. Is this not worth sacrificing for?
Do We Pray for Those on Mission?
Thirdly, do we pray for those on mission? Crucial to loving our missionaries well is prayer. Prayer is crucial for those on the mission field - they are working in spiritual warfare; they need the support in prayer. People don’t come to Christ without the Spirit doing His work, and missionaries are people just like you and me. Therefore, we must pray. If salvation is impossible by human effort, then missionaries cannot do anything apart from God’s working. Therefore, pray for God to save the lost and for the missionaries to be used by God in ways that are impossible by the flesh.
Ways to Pray
Though you may realize the importance of prayer, you may find it difficult to get started praying for missionaries. Here are some pointers to help.
- Pray Specifically
First, when praying, pray specifically. It is good to pray generally about things, but also get specific. Pray about their specific needs or for a specific thing. When you pray specifically, and you see God specifically answering that prayer, it greatly encourages you to pray more! When I see specific answers, I know that God is listening to me. For example, if I’m praying for God to save Jane, then God saves Jane, it will blow you away. It’s not a coincidence, God did work because of prayer.
- Pray Regularly
Secondly, pray regularly, make time to pray for our missionaries! If you feel a little overwhelmed by the possibility of praying for someone once per day, or the possibility of forgetting what to pray for, make a prayer list that you can cycle through weekly – and perhaps put this missionary on once per week. You may, within that week, receive an email or letter with more prayer needs to include for the following week. This is a great way to get started praying for our missionaries regularly.
Practical Ways to Love Our Missionaries
Finally, what are some practical ways that we can love those on mission? I’ve mentioned some of these already, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Write Letters and Emails.
This lets them get to know you, and you get to know them! Share prayer points and updates – let them know specifically what you’re praying for. This is a great way to stay in regular contact.
For missionaries in closed countries – we must be careful in what we communicate and how we communicate, but they need letters of encouragement and support all the same. If you’re interested in contacting those in a closed country, contact the Mission Leadership Team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Make a Phone Call.
Give them a call – even if they are international. It can be great to hear someone over the phone, to chat about life and mission, and even pray with them.
- Send Gifts.
You could send gifts – for their birthday, special events such as Christmas, or even a surprise box of goodies with things they might miss from home. Many of our missionaries have children, and they love it when you send them toys and gifts.
- Adopt a Ministry.
Another thing you could do is adopt a missionary as a Bible study group. You can pray for them whenever you get together and stay updated as a group. You could even record and send video messages of the group as encouragement.
- Catch Up.
There are some missionaries presently in Perth, who are on mission here, or are here because of the pandemic. Get in contact, invite them over for dinner, for coffee, or to your Bible study groups – and get to know them in person.
- Truly Pray
Most importantly – truly pray, as we can do nothing apart from the power of God. Pray specifically, pray regularly! [I’ve mentioned this already – but it’s worthy of double mention!]
There is so much more that you can do, so be creative – don’t stay limited to this list! Even go visit them one day when travel opens up again.
I encourage you, take a look at our church mission board and find someone you can support. Pray about who to choose – seek to find out more about them. For questions – please email the Mission Leadership Team (email@example.com).
Go and love our missionaries well.
Soli Deo Gloria,