Thursday, October 25, 2012

Missionary Secrets 4: our churches don't know what to do with us...

Missionary Secrets 4: our churches don't know what to do with us...
by Abu Daoud

It's true. They send us money. They are normally happy to see us when we get back to our native country. They have good intentions. But in the end, they have no idea what to do with missionaries. It's mostly out of sight, out of mind. Which is not great. I personally love to hear from our churches. I don't mind answering their questions or e-mailing some recent prayer requests or pictures.

So here is some good advice which I got from an eNewsLetter send out by this agency on a regular basis. (You can sign up for it at their website if you like.)

Here is the section I liked, with some great advice on taking care of missionaries and keeping in touch with them:

Neal Pirolo wrote the best book on this subject, Serving as Senders Today: how to care for your missionaries as they prepare to go, are on the field, and return home. Here's a list to get you started, but to read more click on the link to buy the book from Amazon.
  1. Enlist folks from your congregation to be the advocates for the missionary who can coordinate support and make needs known to the congregation;
  2. Offer a room in your home for the missionary to store their possessions;
  3. Ask if the missionary needs help filing taxes whilst away;
  4. Have the Sunday School classes focus on the missionary's area of service. Learn some of the language, culture, and needs;
  5. Volunteer to babysit the missionary's children so that they can have time away before re-entry to the field;
  6. Send care packages, birthday cards, and other items for their wish list;
  7. Offer to send out their communications;
  8. Although the aim is a warm, supportive relationship, it should also be one of accountability.Get references, verify their call, and request ministry reports;
  9. Offer friendship. Invite them to a meal or out for coffee;
  10. Find a tangible way to serve the missionary. For example, one missionary we know works with orphans in a cold climate. Folks from her supporting church have a knitting ministry and send hats and gloves to the children she serves;
  11. Send a short-term team to visit them on the field. Find out how the team could best serve. If sending a team would be too much of a burden, send one or two leaders instead;
  12. Get technical:  do Skype calls with the church; ask for video footage, photos, etc.;
  13. Are there doctors in the congregation who can help advise in medical situations;
  14. Commission the missionary during a service, put on a church meal with relevant ethnic food, consider taking a photo that the missionary can take on the field;
  15. Pray regularly for the missionary during the service, small groups, etc.;
  16. Be sensitive to your returning missionary. Culture shock is unnerving. Perhaps counselors and friends in the congregation can lend an ear and help them process their experiences.


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Abu Daoud said...

From Umm Daoud: I would like to say, sometimes the missionaries have a hard time accepting the help they are offered, so be gently persistent! We're a rather odd bunch and tend to be self-reliant, because that's how we are when we're on the field, and it can be difficult to accept help in whatever form it is offered. I will say that our home church was really good about 1 (although it tends to be more behind-the-scenes), 4, 5, and 15. I would like to have one person at each of our churches that either e-mail or talk to us, say, every other month? Just so we can keep connected with a real, live person. We love the church updates on the websites and stuff, but we also love to have that personal interaction. It makes us feel like we're still a part of our church back in the USA.

JohnG. said...

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