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Sunday Snippet: How to Support A Missionary in Se7en Steps.

January 26th, 2009 · 7 Comments

When a missionary stands up in Church and asks for support there is usually an audible gasp – people assume that it is either financial or prayer support that they are asking for. Everyone ticks the “I will pray for you” box on the support sheet, sighs a sigh of relief and never thinks of it again… But there are a whole myriad of practical ways to support a missionary.

And if you are looking for a book on this topic I read this book a while ago:


And it really opened my eyes to the real needs of a missionary both at home and abroad. The book is really focused on missionaries returning home from the field on furlow, but it is packed with practical ways to serve a missionary.

Because of this I thought I would write a list of se7en ways we have used to support a missionary:

  • Get to know your missionary: The best way to support a missionary is to know them, talk to them ask them about their work and the people they work amongst. Ask them what the easiest part of their average day and the hardest part is. Ask them what their favorite things are: movies, sweeties, magazines, books. Oftentimes I have been really surprised by these! They are actually humans not super-spiritual beings floating above the crowd. We have a bit of a game in our family and we always ask missionary friends about a favorite “something” when we interact… For example, it helps to know their favorite food for when they are next in town.
  • Pray for Them in their Daily Life: Of course you can pray for a missionary from a prayer list, but it really helps to know your missionary to pray for them meaningfully. If there is a struggle that they face daily: a grumpy neighbor; a difficult transport system; homesickness, and they know you are praying for that thing specifically, how empowering is that for them? Often it is things that are not related to being a missionary at all that are the hardest to cope with, parenting issues, lack of sleep with a new baby and so on, in a foreign place these problems are just exacerbated.
  • Open Your Home: Often times when a missionary is home on a break they no longer have the the connections they once had at home, people they used to be friends with have moved on, times change. And now they are home and nothing seems familiar. Ask them over for meals with a view to letting them relax – they don’t always want to meet fifty new people and talk about their work! Serve familiar food, they eat exotically all the time. Experience has proved that these are the most appreciative guests!!!
  • Help Them At Home: When they are home ask them what they need as support, sometimes it is practical: some books to read, or a lift to and fro. Maybe they just need you to store a couple of boxes for them between home visits. Sometimes they just want to be befriended and if you are going on an outing invite them along. Sometimes they need to host an event for supporters but don’t have a clue how to do this. Offer them your home as the venue – this sounds more alarming than it is! We have quite often done this just let our missionary friends invite their supporters round for coffee – we have always been encouraged and met the most amazing people when we have done this. Not to mention our kids have met people from far and wide.
  • Send Them Letters and Gifts: They actually aren’t asking for the world it is usually small familiar items that they are longing for. You will be surprised at how grateful they are for anything – even a postcard. And if you don’t know what to write just tell them a few things about a day in your lives and that you have been thinking of them. That is enough to remind them of home and encourage them. These are a couple of things that we have been asked for: Christian books (because they usually can’t get them in the country they are working in – ask about these first because they may not be allowed Christian literature); familiar magazines from home, newspaper cuttings, familiar candy – in fact we had a friend who just wanted the Saturday Sport Scores emailed to him – now that’s really doable, but if you didn’t ask you wouldn’t know!
  • Remember Who You are Serving There is no point in sending a missionary encouraging letters and gifts and letting them have the use of your home and car when they are home, if all the while you are expecting something in return. You will be rewarded by their friendship, but often times their work is arduous and at the end of a day of doing a hard and different job to your normal job, in a foreign and difficult language they may not be up to sending copious letters of gratitude in response.
  • Pray for them in General: The better you know your missionary the better you can pray for them specifically. But missionaries need consistent and general prayer too. They also need to know that you are praying for them. If you have a weekly prayer plan then tell them – often times that will open the communication door and they will give you specific things they need help with in that area. There are countless general resources on the web for praying for missionaries, lists of ideas and weekly plans and so on. Here are se7en of the best of them:

I always thought that people with young kids wouldn’t be very useful in serving missionaries – turns out it is a brilliant way to teach your children about having a servant heart and a little bit of geography on the side. And our missionary friends seem to like being inundated but a steady stream of prayer partners and little letters of encouragement.

So everyone’s a winner and we as a family look forward to a missionary standing up at the front of church asking for support.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amy // Jan 27, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Hey. My stepmother’s niece is a missionary in Thailand near a University. She and her husband work with the college students there with Campus Crusade. The also homeschool their 4 children. This summer my 22 year old is going over to help them for a couple of weeks. There are about 5 families that serve in that area and they co-teach all of their children together. (20 or so I believe)

    It takes 24 hours just to get to there from here… She’s excited about going to help out.. but I’m a bit nervous. She’s served short term mission work before.. but not this far away. lol
    I’ll have to check out the book.
    Have a great day. Can’t believe ya’ll are in Summer.. IT’s freezing here.

  • 2 se7en // Jan 27, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Hay back – brilliant boiling summer! Isn’t funny how we pray that our kids may grow up to serve the Lord, but it is hard to imagine that it will be in some far off remote place, rather than comfortably at home and taking a weekly Bible Study. It does sound like a great adventure and I wish you all the best while she travels.

  • 3 cristina // Jan 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    great post! i am looking for info to include in a “how to host a missionary” for our upcoming missions conference and found you. thanks for all the suggestions and links!

    the link to “praying using ABCs” wasn’t working. i think i found it…..

  • 4 se7en // Jan 20, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Thanks C, For the update, I love that you renewed that link!!! I hope your conference goes well!!!

  • 5 Kate // Aug 8, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this post. I know it’s a bit backdated now but the advice is really amazing and as a missionary I know so much of it is true.

    I particularly love the open your home bit; people often offer to take me out for meals but it’s hard to see so much money used on a simple meal and to be in a room with so many voices all talking English at once, when you are used to the only English voice you can hear, being directed at you!

  • 6 se7en // Aug 9, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Kate, I am so pleased to meet you!!! And you write such a truth!!! We have really found that opening the door and providing a little bit of home a place to kick of your shoes, read a good book and eat whatever we are eating has helped so many missionary friends find a little bit of rest in the craziness that often surrounds them – with visiting heaps of supporters and speaking engagements. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to comment – I really appreciate that!!!

  • 7 Se7en's Fabulous Friday Fun #207 - se7en // Jan 26, 2014 at 4:46 am

    […] 2009: How to Support a Missionary in Se7en Steps. […]

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