Discipleship

Things Every Missionary Needs (Part 2)

by Kevin S. Hall

In Part 1 of “Things Every Missionary Needs,” I listed five things you can do for missionaries even when they get too busy to ask. As a missionary in the past, I always found asking difficult to do. Yet, I understood that working together as the body of Christ is the best way to accomplish God’s purposes. When it came to enhancing or advancing the ministry on the mission field, I really did try to ask, even when it was challenging to do so.

However, missionaries have needs outside of the things for which they might ask. I knew we needed to receive support, be encouraged, and feel valued while ministering on the mission field. But I didn’t know quite how much, or even how to ask for the fulfillment of those types of needs. Through the love of our support team and churches, we learned by example how to fulfill the needs of those on the field.

Remind them that you are praying for them.  Let them know you are thinking about them.  Tell them you miss them.  Re-confirm that you are encouraged by their obedience to the Great Commission.
— Kevin S. Hall

Here are five things you can do for missionaries for which they will likely never ask:

Send a care package

Find out what they would like to receive, what’s safe to send, and where to send it.  Send them things that they can’t get on the field, such as their favorite candy bar or coffee. My in-laws were creative to send a valentine’s party in a box with decorations, snacks, and crafts for our kids.  One of our supporting churches sent a movie night package complete with a DVD, encouraging letters, and popcorn.  

Give a gift

Send a gift for their birthday or Christmas. Pay for their meal when they are stateside, or simply give them a gift card to use to take their family to dinner or the movies. There are many creative ways to give e-gift cards or transfer money so that a spouse can buy a gift on the field. I was lucky enough to have a Starbucks in my city, so gift cards were very well-received!

Email an encouraging message

Remind them that you are praying for them. Let them know you are thinking about them. Tell them you miss them. Re-confirm that you are encouraged by their obedience to the Great Commission.  

Plan a visit

Go visit your missionary to encourage them and see their work in action. Be so invested in their work and interested in their lives that you leave your own comfort zone to join them. We sometimes found ourselves lonely and regularly missed those relationships that we left behind.

Send a mission team

Plan with your missionary to send a short-term team that will minister to, for, and with the missionary on the field. Let them be able to share, in person and in real time on the field, all that they are doing. We made lifelong friends with church members who came on short-term trips and connected with our ministry.

It does indeed get lonely on the mission field. At times, it can feel like there is little support from those with whom the missionary was once very connected. These five actions will go a long way toward encouraging missionaries and showing them how much you value their work for the cause of Christ. I know, because I was once the grateful recipient of these actions for which I didn’t even know to ask.


Kevin S. Hall is a graduate of Cedarville University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Adv. MDiv). He is currently pursuing a PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kevin is a former police officer and has served in Mexico as a missionary. He is married to Bethany, and they have three children.

Things Every Missionary Needs (Part 1)

by Kevin S. Hall

While serving as missionaries, my wife and I would reach out to others for some of our needs. We understood that ministry is accomplished through partnering together with others. Often, though, without regular requests and reminders, those who heard our requests quickly forgot about them. Yet we, like many missionaries, found ourselves either too busy to keep up on requests or tired of taking the time and effort to make “the ask,” especially since we assumed those whom we asked should be involved without a reminder.

Pray for your missionary by name. Pray for their ministry. Pray for the people with whom they have contact. Pray for their safety, sanity, and spirituality. Pray. When they do give specific areas for prayer, remember to pray.
— Kevin S. Hall

With that said, here are five things you can always do for the missionary even when they have stopped asking.

Pray

Pray for missionaries and their families, both their immediate family on the field and their extended family left behind. Pray for your missionary by name. Pray for their ministry. Pray for the people with whom they have contact. Pray for their safety, sanity, and spirituality. Pray. When they do give specific areas for prayer, remember to pray.  

Give

Give a monthly, annual, or one-time monetary gift to their specific ministry. Most sending organizations have easy ways to give a tax deductible gift through many medians (online, mail, etc.) with many forms of payment. You may not be able or specifically called to go, but you can give. Missionaries cannot do what they do on the field without regular monetary support.

Share Their Ministry With Others

Tell others about what they are doing. Share their blogs and newsletters with others. Write a post on Facebook or another social media platform that points people to them and their ministry. Share their website with others. Get others excited about the ministry you are a part of through their work. However, make sure to be cognizant of those missionaries who are in risky areas where it could cost them their ministry or life if they are known as “missionaries.”  Don’t share things they have advised you not to share, and always use discretion.

Read Their Blogs and Newsletters

Blogs, updates, and newsletters take effort. They are created for supporters and used to stay connected to those who pray for, give to, and support their ministry. Don’t disregard them. Depending on the programs used to create and send them, missionaries likely can see who and how many people open their emails and newsletters. And truly, why wouldn’t you want to keep up with what your missionary is doing?

Attend Their Stateside Events

Even though it is often exhausting for them during stateside visits, missionaries want to see you and share with you. They could be resting with family or doing fun things they can’t do in their ministry country, but they choose to minister to you even when they are stateside. If they reach out to you or plan an event, show up.  

We were fortunate to have many people praying for us regularly and reminding us that they were thinking of us. Many gave sacrificially and told others about what God was doing in our ministry. We were always encouraged by those who responded to our newsletters to let us know they were still engaged with our partnership. We felt loved and appreciated when others would plan or help with a stateside event. It communicated to us that they wanted to be with us and that others did too.

What other things do missionaries ask for that you can be a part of in order to partner with and encourage them?


Kevin S. Hall is a graduate of Cedarville University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Adv. MDiv). He is currently pursuing a PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kevin is a former police officer and has served in Mexico as a missionary. He is married to Bethany, and they have three children.


Feature image by IMB.

Discipling Children Toward Missions

by Matthew Hirt

I have heard a refrain consistently repeated in the stories shared by missionaries at their commissioning services: “From a young age my parents/grandparents/pastor/Sunday School teacher taught me about missions and missionaries.” There seems to be a noticeable correlation between children who receive missions education and those who later commit themselves to missionary service. Let’s look at a few steps that we can take in our churches and homes to influence the next generation of missionaries.

One of the responsibilities we have in discipling children toward missions is helping them live missionally where they are right now.
— Matthew Hirt

Expose Children To Missionary Biographies

On my shelf sits a volume entitled simply, The Book of Missionary Heroes by Basil Mathews, first published in 1922. The book was written to be read out loud to children and then, later, to be read by children as they learned to read. The book contains short biographies of missionaries from the Apostle Paul to Archibald Forder, a missionary who worked among the Bedouin tribe in the early 20th century. Along the way, a child would be introduced to figures such as Raymond Lull, David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, and Henry Martyn. Even though Mathews tended to glorify these missionaries and make them appear to be larger than life, he shared their stories in a way that children could understand. 

While we should not elevate missionaries to a super-Christian status, we also should not diminish what they do. All Christians are called to make disciples, but the call to leave your people, your homeland, and your language to proclaim the gospel cross-culturally is different. The call to missionary service should be celebrated and encouraged. For this reason, we should expose children from a young age through their teenage years to missionary biographies.

Exposure to missionary biographies can also create opportunities to discuss why missions is necessary. Why did Adoniram and Ann Judson leave their home to go live in Burma? What compelled C. T. Studd to abandon his career as a superstar athlete? If Lottie Moon really was the most educated woman in the South, why would she go to China? These questions can lead to conversations about why each person needs to hear the gospel—the truth that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Sharing the stories of missionaries around the world today and in the past creates an opportunity to share the gospel with your children or those in your children’s ministry. In fact, the story of a missionary could be the way the Lord calls a child to salvation.

For younger children, The Book of Missionary Heroes may be a good option, or there are other individual children’s books on missionaries like Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, and Adoniram and Ann Judson. Older children could benefit from individual volumes of The Christian Heroes series while teenagers and adults have the opportunity to dive deeper with Danny Akin’s 10 Who Changed the World or Ruth Tucker’s From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Women’s Missionary Union also continues to publish quality missionary education curricula for children.

Help Children to Think Missionally

Indeed, exposure and instruction are necessary for discipleship but do not constitute the whole of discipleship. Parents and ministry leaders can begin helping children to think practically about their role in missions. My wife, Heather, was teaching a group of three and four-year-old boys and girls about missions on Wednesday nights. She taught them all a simplified version of Matthew 28:19. One little girl in the class knew that her daycare teacher did not go to church, so the little girl asked her mom if she could bring her coloring page to daycare the next day to share the memory verse with her teacher and invite her to church. The teacher had been hesitant to accept invitations from the mom, but it is difficult to turn down the invitation of a three-year-old girl. The invitation and explanation that the little girl issued was not sophisticated or complicated, but it was effective because the teacher showed up at church the next week.

Children have opportunities that parents and ministry leaders do not have. They have relationships in their school. They know people through community groups and sports. Children of all ages have their own network of contacts. If an adult can enter that world at all, it is extremely challenging to connect in a meaningful way. A better method is to disciple our children in our homes and in our churches to see the missional opportunities around them. Isn’t this what we would do on the mission field? We train and equip national believers to engage their own networks and to utilize the natural connections they have at home, at work, and in everyday life. One of the responsibilities we have in discipling children toward missions is helping them live missionally where they are right now.

Include Children in Your Missionary Outreach

One of the worst things we can say to children as we disciple them is, “You can do that when you get older.” There are very few things I would refuse to let a child do in church. A parent or adult may need to help them, but we can certainly involve children in every aspect of the church. If we want them to grow up and serve as future missionaries, whether church planting in urban centers or proclaiming the gospel among an unreached people group, then we should include them in our missionary outreach today.

Simple is often better. Whatever outreach you or your church is already doing, take your children along with you. Some of the most effective discipleship is done just by taking someone with you. Mark reminds us in his gospel that Jesus, “appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). First and foremost, Jesus called the apostles to be with him. The apostles learned a lot just by being with Jesus. As we disciple children toward missions, we must take them with us when we go on a visitation, when we engage the community during our church’s “Trick or Treat” outreach, or when we invite families to Vacation Bible School. As we live our lives missionally, may we choose to involve our children in what we’re doing instead of leaving them at home.