I’m not a missionary but that won’t stop me from speculating on what they need. And I might be right. After all, I know what most mother’s need– sleep! (Followed by a long nap.)
So, here are 5 things I suspect missionaries need from us. Feel free to suggest others.
1. Encouragement. Discouragement comes easily and sneakily. Being far from family, friends and culture can lend itself to this malady- and the interest rate on that loan is huge. Many people are discouraged by circumstances and missionaries are people. Add in the physical, financial and spiritual difficulties and it is easy to see the danger. Be an encourager to missionaries you know. Let them know you care about them. Rejoice with them in their victories and support them in their defeats.
2. Prayer. Not the “I’ll say I will pray for you never to think about it again” sort of prayer. Missionaries need people who will pray specifically and intensely for them. I have several people who pray for me each day. One 82 year old woman recently apologized to me for having missed 2 days of praying for me due to a minor stroke. After almost two decades of her daily prayers I am willing to forgive her. (But don’t let it happen again!) Might you be that kind of praying friend for some missionary?
3. Financial Support. While missionaries don’t get much in the way of salary, they do need some food, materials and a winch to pull their vehicle out of trouble. They can’t stay unless they are supported by churches and Christians back home. There is no better gift you can give the world than the message of the gospel. Maybe one of the reasons God has blessed you financially is so that you will be able to impact the world through those blessings.
4. Connection. Personal connections make a difference and missionaries benefit from true friends like everyone else. Friends who demand nothing and seldom give unsolicited advice are invaluable. If you have missionaries from your church, stay connected. If you have friends who are serving as missionaries, stay in touch. We need each other. (And sometimes a goody bag.)
5. A Listening Ear. Missionaries need to have safe avenues to share ideas, joys and frustrations. Especially frustrations. Good listeners hear carefully. Good listeners are not quick to judge. Good listeners try to understand before offering suggestions. It is helpful if there are people who will hear and really listen. That applies to mission leaders, supporting churches, families and friends. Maybe you could do that for someone.
Any other ideas?