I recently received a small publication from Ron and Beryl, a couple involved in missionary care through the EFCCM. It’s worth sharing, so I’ll summarise it here. (If you’d like to see the whole thing, contact us, and we’ll make sure you get it.) They’ve broken down the missions career into four compartments, and prayer is central to each.
1.) Before they leave, missionaries need support and encouragement, and any practical things that you can offer will be welcomed. They may need room for storage of their belongings, or help with the transporting and shipping of what they’re sending. A good send-off can be memorable and meaningful.
2.) When in the host country, life comes at you fast. There’s language and culture study (formal or not), and there is a whole lot of “new”. Even how you buy groceries might be radically different. Added to this bewildering barrage is the actual work — the intent and calling. Tracking along with what’s happening over there, and offering timely support and encouragement is an important way to show that you care.
3.) When on Home Assignment, needs are different. It’s certainly no vacation! There is a lot of pressure to connect personally with all supporters, especially churches, and share what’s happening and where the needs are. But there is also pressure to connect with family and friends too. Then there are practicalities like a vehicle and a place to stay. Assisting with transition can include making preparations with schools in the area where the kids will be, and supplying immediate needs, like groceries and toiletries. Make an effort to connect personally with them, over a shared meal for example.
4.) When missionaries retire, they often feel disconnected from what they used to be so integral in. Recognise that they have wisdom to offer, and look for ways to get them to share it. Styles change, but people are still the same, and retired missionaries can offer significant insights into missions and ministry despite the changing cultures.
By its very nature, mission work requires risk. But your active love and support, at all stages of ministry, can minimise those risks.