Supporting Your Missionaries (Not Just a Plea for More Money!)

We often think of our missionaries as spiritual giants. They have no need of earthly pleasures, their life is so sold out for the Kingdom of God, earthly things are of no consequence. If there are any needs, it’s probably just financial, right?

Wrong.

Missionaries are just like you and me. Missionaries have good days and bad days. They have struggles, and miss comforts from home.

Missionaries need support – financial, spiritual, emotional, moral, and physical support.

Ideally, this should come from the local church – but that does not mean that it must come from the paid church staff. There are many ways that Christians can support missionaries, even if they are not the missions pastor.

The Bible declares that Missions and word evangelism is a partnership between missionaries and senders. Romans 10 speaks of those that go, and those that send.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

The entire book of Philippians is basically a thank you letter from Paul to the church in Philippi, thanking them for the assistance they sent to Paul on multiple occasions. Chapter 4:

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

It is our responsibility to support and send our missionaries well. Again, this is not just financially we are talking here. We must learn to support in as many ways as we can.

The government understands this principle well. About 80-90 percent of the jobs in the military are non-combat occupations. That means for every troop deployed to front-line operations, there are anywhere from 4-9 people behind the scenes supporting them – intel, logistics, chefs, mechanics, medics. Friend who is a chaplain in the military – pastor to the troops.

As Christians, we love seeing missionaries head out to the field. At Refuge, we have our missionaries stand in the “Crossroads” where the aisles all come together, for prayer and commissioning. But once they are sent out, we still need to be behind them, just as the military is behind the grunts on the ground.

So how can we practically support our missionaries?

On the Field
• Maintain the flow of information. Missionaries love to hear about what is happening back home, and back at church. Churches often require missionaries to send reports back to keep them informed; Churches should be taking it upon themselves to keep the missionaries informed about what is happening at the home church. Personal notes from the pastor, secretary, staff, or volunteer can let the missionaries know what is happening, so when they come visit they aren’t surprised.
• Personal letters don’t have to come from the pastor to be meaningful. Personal letters from church members are cherished. When we were in Kenya, we would keep letters from members of the church, and reread them throughout the year.
• Don’t forget cards! We taped up all of our Christmas cards in our kitchen, and kept them up until the tape weakened and they started falling off the wall – in June. Birthday cards are fun to send, as it shows your missionaries that you think about them more than just at holidays – you even remember their birthday! In order for your missionaries to receive them on time, mail cards 7-10 days before birthdays, and Christmas cards 3-4 weeks early. International mail takes more time around the holidays.
• Skype or Facetime with missionaries. Set up a time to just check in and see how they are doing. Email and messages are great, but they don’t show emotion as well as a face to face.
• Respond to their newsletters. We had one lady in our church respond to every single newsletter. It was usually very short, just a message that they read our newsletter and were praying for us. Even these short messages meant so much to us.
• Support their families. Missionaries are separated from their family, and struggle when they have a family member who is sick or needs help with something. Volunteer to bring a meal to their family member; or help them move on behalf of your missionary.

On Furlough/Return
• Furlough is the time when missionaries return to their home country for fundraising, break, etc. It is not the same as a vacation – missionaries often need a vacation after they return to their host country!
• Make sure your church is helping bring home missionaries every 2-3 years at least. Furlough is expensive on a missionary budget – a family of five can cost over $5000 from some countries to return home – which can equal multiple months of support!
• Educate yourself before they return; reread their newsletters, find out about current events in their country, etc.
• Remember everything is expensive for them – they are still paying rent and ministry expenses in their host country, and then costs in their home country. If you want to get a meal with them, offer to pick up the check. And let them know that you are treating them in advance, so they don’t stress out before the meal.
• They will need a time of rest and regrouping before jumping into ministry and sharing. Can you offer a vacation spot? A cabin, Airbnb, or timeshare?
• Provide a car for them. If you have an extra car, make sure that the insurance and registration is current, and loan it to them for a time. Reach out to them before they leave and offer it to them, so there is less stress once they land.
• Gas cards and gift cards are great ways to bless missionaries – they will most likely be driving a lot, so gas and Starbucks cards are amazing!
• Get together for a meal. If the missionaries have kids, it’s better to invite them to your home rather than a restaurant. Adults can sit for a coup[le hours catching up – kids, not so much.
• Engage the children! Kids are often the forgotten part of ministering to missionaries. Ask about school, their friends, favorite foods, sports…
• Don’t say – “I bet you are glad you are home,” which can be confusing for missionaries, especially kids. Where is home? I’ve been back for two years, in my “home town,” and still occasionally have to think about how to answer the question, “So where are you from?”

Visitation
• Visit missionaries!
• Send representatives in small numbers to field to be a blessing and to better understand the situation they live in. This should not be to evaluate the work – which we, who are living in a different country, in a different culture may find hard to understand why things are done a certain way.
• Make sure it is during a time that limits the disruption of their lives. If your missionaries work in a school, Exam time would probably not be a good time to visit.
• Don’t be a financial burden. Yes the trip is expensive, but you most likely still make much more money than the missionary does.

Care Package Do’s and Don’ts

Before you send a package –
• Make sure that what you want to send can’t be purchased there. It is very expensive to mail a package overseas – so fill it up with treats that are not readily available in their host country.
• Find out if there are items that are off limits. Sending a case of Christian literature into a closed country may get your missionary in trouble.
• Find out if they will they be charged any duty or tariffs for receiving the package. Some countries will charge import tariffs on anything you send.
• Ask what specific items your missionary wants or needs. (favorite candy, treats, or books that the missionary would like)

What to include –
• Cooking/baking items
o Seasoning packets were a tradable commodity Chili, ranch, French onion, taco seasoning…
o Cake mixes
o Mac and Cheese
o Peanut Butter
o Coffee or Tea
• Note – be careful with sending spices and strong scented items with other things. We once received a box of allspice tasting chocolates.
• Books
• Games and coloring books
• HAND WRITTEN NOTES!!!!

Get Up and Go – Week 5

Alright! We are a little late getting this posted, but here is the audio from Week 5. We had some issues with the recording from the first session, so this week we only have one audio.

Brian Bell – Conflict Resolution

Book Recommendations

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Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan. The story of a Catholic missionary ministering to the Masaai in Tanzania. What he discovered about faith around the world challenged his own views on faith and religion. Highly recommended.

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The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George C. Hunter, III. Concerned about the pagan ways of our culture? Read this book to find out how to share your faith effectively with culture we are facing in America. Yes, it says the Celtic Way, but it very well could say the American Way.

Get Up and Go – Week 4

Here are the links for the week. Enjoy!

Tim Keller – Spiritual Warfare

Here is the sermon from Richard Baxter that Keller mentions is the sermon. “The Cure for Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow, by Faith”

Jonathan Ferguson – History of Missions

 

Honest Mission Trip Leader – John Crist

 

Book Recommendations

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Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer – Spiritual Warfare and Missions

http://amzn.to/2IEimSU

Offers a great understanding of Satan’s strategy for defeating missions. Highly recommended.

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C. S. Lewis – The Screwtape Letters.

http://amzn.to/2FSJvzG

One of the best books written on the schemes of the evil forces arrayed against us. Written from the point of view of a senior demon mentoring his young nephew.

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Thomas Brooks – The Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

http://amzn.to/2u6apmi

This book was mentioned by Timothy Keller in the sermon we listened to. I have not read it, but wanted to offer it in case you were interested.

Get Up and Go – Week 3

Audio for Week 3

Peyton and Andrea Jones share on evangelism, using your spiritual gifts, and some awesome stories this week. Note – There was only one session this week, so the audio is longer than other messages in previous weeks.

 

Upcoming Trips and Ways to Serve

Haiti Medical Mission Trip – contact Julie Gibbs for more details

Vietnam Mission Trip – contact Bruce Nguyen for more details

Vietnam Trip info meeting – March 24th, 9:00 Refuge CCHB Mini-Chapel

Neighborhood Easter Outreach – after services, Sunday March 25th. contact Chase Acuna for more details

A Night With C.S. Lewis – fundraiser for Haiti Medical Outreach

Jog-a-thon Mission Fundraiser – Save the date – April 8th, Golden West College – More Info coming soon

 

Book Recommendations

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Jones, Peyton. Reaching the Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2017.

http://amzn.to/2tK5siK

From accidentally planting a church in a Starbucks in Europe, to baptizing members of the Mexican mafia in Long Beach Harbor, Jones has been on the frontlines of today’s missional movement and has lived to tell the tale. In Reaching the Unreached, he teaches church planters, pastors, and church leaders how to convert pew jockeys into missionaries and awake the sleeping giant of Christ’s church, one person at a time.

 

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Coleman, Robert. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Ada, MI: Revell Publishing. 2010.

http://amzn.to/2HyStCD

For more than forty years this classic study has shown Christians how to minister to the people God brings into their lives. Instead of drawing on the latest popular fad or the newest selling technique, Dr. Robert E. Coleman looks to the Bible to find the answer to the question: What was Christ’s strategy for evangelism? This convenient, portable format has an updated look for a new generation of readers.

Get Up and Go – Week 2

Audio for Week Two

Pete Nelson – The Missionary God

 

Jason Vander Burgh – Holy Spirit and Missions

Biblical Basis of Missions / God’s Heart for the Nations

This short video summarizes the idea of how Missions is interwoven into the very fabric of the Bible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmtfBZyO_hI

For more information on this topic, including a longer version of the video, visit Global Frontier Missions

Here there is a longer version of the video, with much more detail!

 

Article

The Living God is a Missionary God

 

Book Recommendations

 

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Chan, Francis and Danae Yankoski. Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.  Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009.

http://amzn.to/2oHYjKU

Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent or intellect rather than supernatural power. What’s worse is that we’re okay with it. Could it be that we’ve forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every religion and cult in the world? Through scriptural support and compelling narrative, Francis Chan reminds us of the Holy Spirit as the Bible describes Him.

 

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Cymbala, Jim. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997.

 http://amzn.to/2Fhf1qG

In Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, pastor Jim Cymbala shares the lessons he learned when the Spirit ignited his heart and began to move through his people. For anyone seeking to live at the center of God’s purposes, Cymbala has updated this well-loved book to show how God is still working in the Brooklyn Tabernacle years later.

This book sparked a revolution in our own ministry in Nairobi. I mark reading this book as one of the key points in our ministry – when I gave up trying to force my vision for the church, and instead trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit to direct our steps.

 

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Cymbala, Jim. Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

http://amzn.to/2oKHte8

You can have regular devotions, great preaching, a strong emphasis on the Bible, a great worship team, and a congregation that is trying, but if you aren’t vitally in touch with God’s Spirit, you are missing out on the life God has for you. The Holy Spirit, he points out, is God’s agent on earth. Yet he is the least understood, least preached about, and least discussed member of the Trinity. That is sad, because without him, our spiritual lives will always become dry, mechanical, and a struggle.

A great follow-up to Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Spirit Rising invited you to experience God in a fresh way.

 

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Mandryk, Jason. Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010.

 http://amzn.to/2sGEyaR

Whether you are an intercessor praying behind the scenes for world change, a missionary abroad or simply curious about the world, Operation World will give you the information necessary to play a vital role in fulfilling the Great Commission by praying for the people of the world and the nations they belong to.

 

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Pratt, Zane, and David Sills. Introduction to Global Missions. Nashvile: B&H Publishing Group, 2014.

http://amzn.to/2sExJa1

Introduction to Global Missions provides a foundation for readers to consider their own missionary call, whether as a full-time field missionary or a church member on short-term projects. No matter their role, Great Commission Christians need a framework for doing missions well.

I used this as a source book for a missions class at the Calvary Chapel Bible College in Nairobi. It is written closer to a textbook style, but written in a way that it is not a diffuclt read.

 

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Winter, Ralph D. and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader. 4th ed. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009.

http://amzn.to/2CulgVL

Writings from more than 150 mission scholars and practitioners portray the history and anticipate the potential of the global Christian movement. Every one of the 170 articles and sidebars offers practical wisdom enabling Christians to labor together in bold, Biblical hope to finish the task of seeing that Christ is named and followed among all the peoples of the earth.

This book is a great resource for anyone who wishes to understand more fully the growth of missions and issues facing missions around the world. Many articles we share during this course are found in this book.

Get Up and Go – Week 1

It was so great to see all of you who made it out to week one of our 2018 Get Up and Go course. It was a great turnout, and I hope you remember the lesson of patience from the puzzles – because we have a few more great activities in store for you over the next few weeks.

Here are the audio files for you for the two sessions from week one. If you missed this week, make sure to listen to the audio before Sunday!

Session One – Jonathan Ferguson – Introduction and the Missionary Call

Introduction and Missionary Call

Session Two – Bill Welsh – The Great Commission

Additional Resources

Here is a great sermon (audio and transcript) from John Piper about the life of George Mueller. An amazing man of faith, Mueller opened schools for children and adults to study the Bible, supported missionaries around the world, and opened five orphanages that cared for 10,024 children in his life – all without asking anyone for support.

Another great website to check out is www.askamissionary.com. I have just recently found this website, and only explored a few of the pages, but here is one about knowing if God has called you to be a missionary.

If you are interested in learning more about individual countries of the world, the CIA World Factbook is a great resource to discover facts about geography, government, people groups, demographics and much more.