My husband and I live half the year in Cambodia serving as missionaries along side our daughter’s family. I hope to inspire more American Christians to become involved in the great commission by becoming partners with a missionary family. To adopt them. To have the names of these servants spoken at your dinner table prayer, and during tucking in moments at bedtime. And to help you see this command from Jesus as personal. “Jesus came and told
his disciples (replace your name here), ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
Please take into consideration these truths you might not know.
1. Missionaries are often forgotten
So was Paul. He says, “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength…” 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NLT
Be honest…can you recall the names of any missionaries? Are you friends with any on social media? Do you receive posts from a family working overseas for Jesus? If you receive a newsletter, do you read it out loud with your children? Do you read it at all? Do you reply with a comment of encouragement? Are you excited about the work being done on foreign shores? How do you express your excitement?
Just to receive an uplifting message or to be reminded that a family is actively praying gives so much encouragement to the forgotten missionary. Use Facebook Messenger to send personal notes to ask for specific prayer requests of your adopted missionaries and then speak the names of these servants of God boldly and often in front of your children. Paul makes a prayer suggestion for himself and his team in 2 Thessalonians 3:1 “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.”
What can you do to keep your adopted missionary family from being forgotten in the rush of life?
2. They are rarely fully funded.
On paper, a missionary salary may look adequate to cover daily expenses, but many times reality is somewhat different. It’s safe to say that missionaries operate on far less than what you do. Often missionaries sacrifice food and living expenses on mission projects they feel God has put before them.
I want to encourage you to get financially involved with a specific missionary. Missionaries do not like asking for money. They pray that your heart will be softened toward their work and you will act without any prompting from them. A surprise donation of money or care package every once in a while or even monthly would be the answer to prayers for your adopted family. It’s easier to genuinely love someone when you make them a part of your family.
What can you do to invest in a missionary?
3. Slow Progress is misunderstood.
Please consider that the day in the life of a missionary is very different than yours. A missionary spends a good amount of time just trying to survive. Where will we get food? is the meat safe? How far will I have to go to find toilet paper? How will I wash these dirty diapers without hot water? How will I get medicine for my child’s rash? Is is time for our three month parasite pills? Why is the water brown today? How will we dry these clothes without a dryer during rainy season? How will I stay cool today? How can I get rid of this mold? Who can I find to teach me the language? What is the best way to home school the kids? How long will the power be off today? When will money be available to travel to the city for supplies? Why won’t anyone believe in God or His Son?
In addition to daily survival, each missionary has a specific direction of work they have been given by the Holy Spirit. Some teach English. Some work with children. Others are sent to encourage an infant church or serve with a Christian organization. In all cases, relationships must be formed, and trust received. Try to understand that progress is slow. Planting seeds take time. There may not be an abundance of conversions, if any. Let’s be sure to not look at these gardeners as failures. The enemy would love for us to believe this lie. The harvest could take years. It might even be another generation before Jesus is accepted in many places. Paul’s words are perfect encouragement for the discouraged missionary, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NLT
How can you spread positive attitudes to your adopted missionary family when things are slow?
I pray that as you enter the new year you will consider becoming active in the life of a missionary even if their denomination is different than yours. For further reading, please see this post from my friend’s daughter-in-law serving in Papua New Guinea. “When Your Missionary Stories Aren’t Sexy” by Erin Duplechin
Would you share any ideas you have to encourage others to be part of Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation?” Mark 16:15 NIV
Picture: A fruit stand on a rural Cambodian road, taken while we were stopped for gas.
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