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.
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.