Have you ever had a passion for missions? I mean a real desire to be a part of what God is doing to draw more worshipers to Himself from groups of people that do not currently have a witnessing church? Some of us are called to go, and we must study, prepare, raise needed funds, pack up, and get on a plane. Many more of us, however, are called to stay where we are while raising our families, serving in the local church, working in our jobs, and sharing the love of Jesus with those around us. We know that Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations applies to all of His followers, not just the apostles. So, how can we who stay in our current geographical locations make a global impact?
The two traditional ways that most people have been involved in missions is by praying and giving financially to help missionaries get to the field. These are both enormously important! Even in these key areas, however, we may need to be regularly reminded of our commitments. For instance, when we say we will pray for our missionaries, are we following through and actually praying consistently and specifically? Likewise, with our financial support, are we sacrificially giving regularly in a long-term, committed way? Recognizing that prayer and giving are fundamental and certainly should not be neglected, it’s also good to consider a few other “non-traditional” ways to support, encourage, and help your cross-cultural workers be effective and stay on the field as they bring in God’s harvest. Listed below are a few ideas:
- Communicate – sign up for an individual’s or family’s newsletter and write back to the missionaries to let them know that you are praying for them. Keep them informed as to what is happening in your family and church.
- Provide support for the children of missionaries by maintaining relationships and facilitating transitions back to your community for home assignments. This can be especially important as young people transition from high school overseas to college in their sending country.
- Visit your missionaries on the field, or have pastors visit to provide pastoral care.
- Networking – introduce your worker to others interested in their kind of ministry.
- Provide business advice/support to those in creative access countries doing business as mission. Areas of need include: business mentoring, graphic design, web development, marketing, research and development, product distribution, investments, becoming a co-owner, etc.
- Help with practical needs or logistics, such as: childcare during speaking engagements or support appointments, home repairs and/or sale prior to missionaries being sent to the field, packing/moving help, transportation during home assignment, housing during home assignment.
A close relationship and good communication between the sending church and the cross-cultural worker is vital to implement any of the items listed above. One great way to facilitate this kind of interaction is to develop a team of between 5 and 15 individuals that are fully committed to helping the missionary get to the field and be effective in the long term once there. These team members act as the critical link between the worker and the sending church. Because of the deep trust and confidentiality within the relationship, the team members can know more deeply what is going on with the missionary and what they need most from the church at any particular time.
The fundamental connection between the field worker and the sending church enables the entire local congregation to get involved in the urgent work of making disciples among people who have no access to the saving good news of Jesus Christ. It is my hope that we all can find one or two ways to further support and encourage our missionaries as the body of Christ!