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.
- Enlist folks from your congregation to be the advocates for the missionary who can coordinate support and make needs known to the congregation;
- Offer a room in your home for the missionary to store their possessions;
- Ask if the missionary needs help filing taxes whilst away;
- Have the Sunday School classes focus on the missionary's area of service. Learn some of the language, culture, and needs;
- Volunteer to babysit the missionary's children so that they can have time away before re-entry to the field;
- Send care packages, birthday cards, and other items for their wish list;
- Offer to send out their communications;
- Although the aim is a warm, supportive relationship, it should also be one of accountability.Get references, verify their call, and request ministry reports;
- Offer friendship. Invite them to a meal or out for coffee;
- 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;
- 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;
- Get technical: do Skype calls with the church; ask for video footage, photos, etc.;
- Are there doctors in the congregation who can help advise in medical situations;
- 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;
- Pray regularly for the missionary during the service, small groups, etc.;
- 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.