One of the least favorite tasks of many missionaries is raising support. If you are not familiar with this term, it means asking people to donate money to their ministry. Mission organizations typically help missionaries know how much money they will need to have from donors on a monthly basis. Some mission organizations then provide this amount once the missionary has been approved, but most organizations require that the missionary asks people to donate.
Missionaries can raise support from different sources:
- Sunday School Classes
- Small Groups
Some people choose to give a one-time donation or offering. Some will commit to give a monthly amount. Giving online makes this much easier now because people can schedule a credit card payment every month or monthly withdrawal from their bank account. A bonus is that donations are usually tax-deductible.
So, how can you help raise support for a missionary? Here are several ideas:
- First, become an expert about your missionary. You need to know what their ministry is and how they go about achieving it. If you are going to be promoting them, you need to be able to answer a reasonable amount of questions about them. Make sure you know any websites and blog addresses. Know how people can donate.
- Talk about your missionary with your friends. Ask your friends if they have ever considered supporting a missionary and encourage them to pray about it. Share your own experience of giving. Explain that the amount they give does not have to be huge – maybe they can start with $10 or $25 dollars per month.
- Propose that your Sunday School class or small group consider donating a monthly amount or at least a one-time donation. You can adopt a missionary family and follow their ministry together.
- Ask your church to support your missionary. If your missionary is not currently receiving support from your church, ask your pastor to consider “taking them on” as part of the missionary support that your church donates on a monthly basis. The amount can be as small as $25 per month, but can also be much higher.
- Offer to help them take a family picture for their “prayer card”. Or better yet, if you have experience, help them design a “prayer card”. Most missionaries have some kind of postcard or greeting card with their picture. They give these out to people and churches to help people remember to pray for them and to ask for support.
Take a moment and consider how you can help a missionary raise support! They will appreciate your help!
You may never be able to travel to exotic locations around the world. BUT this does not mean that you can only learn about other places by reading books and watching movies. You can learn about another country in your own home! Curious?
One of the best ways you can learn about another culture and country is to befriend an international student. Most cities with colleges or universities have many students from other countries. Some families choose to host a high school student for an entire year. (My grandparents did this.) Other families, like mine, just become friends with a local college student. We have been friends, now, for two years – meeting a couple of times a month on average. We love having him in our home, eating meals with him, and including him in our activities. He loves our children and calls us his “American family”.
What does this relationship look like? We are friends! We ask him about his culture and country. We have tried to learn a few words in his native language. We try to learn about his religious beliefs. We have had many great conversations about what we believe and why we believe it. We have taken him to the airport, and picked him up again when he returned. We have given him advice on job searches and interviews. We have watched movies. We have helped him move…several times. I have cooked many meals (including one meal similar to one he might have gotten at home in his country). And recently he cooked for us!
The best part of this relationship is that my kids are learning about another culture. They are also learning how to be respectful of someone with different beliefs. They have made a new friend, and they love having him come to our house.
If you need help to find a student to befriend, try contacting an organization like International Students, Inc.
Want a great chance to be a missionary while influencing the next generation? Become a missionary teacher! There are several ways that you can use your teaching skills in mission work:
1- Teach at a missionary school. There are missionary schools all over the world that need great teachers from K-12. Some of the schools are small enough that they combine grades, but others are large and you could teach a huge variety of things (depending on your training and gifts). Many schools ask for a one-year contract, but some schools will allow people to come for just one semester. Some schools are a boarding-type school, but others have teachers live off campus in an apartment or house. Check out these websites to find great openings:
2- Teach at an international school. If you want a great opportunity to teach lots of kids that do not know about Jesus, try looking for a position at an international school. These schools can include lots of local kids, but also usually have a large number of international students whose parents are in business or government in a country that is not their passport country. This is a great way to teach kids from all over the world in one classroom! I had several teachers in my local Mexican school that taught everything from grade school to high school Math and Chemistry in English.
3- Become the homeschool teacher for a missionary. Many missionaries choose to homeschool their kids for a multitude of reasons. Maybe there are no local schools, maybe the local schools are not academically challenging, maybe it is not safe to send kids to school where they live, maybe their child has special needs, or maybe they just want their kids to learn things from a Christian worldview. Some missionary parents struggle with this decision because they know that teaching is not their gift. Some suffer from health concerns that keep them from teaching. Some need to spend more time in ministry. For many different reasons, a missionary may need a person to come homeschool their children for a short season. You can be the answer to this problem and the answer to their prayers.
4- Share your homeschooling knowledge with a homeschooling missionary. You may only have the experience of teaching your own children, but that means that you can be a huge resource to a homeschooling missionary mom. Offer to share resources (when legally possible) and send them links to resources you have found helpful. Keep in contact with them and offer any support or advice you feel they might want.
Is teaching something you think you could do? This can be a great way to see the world while being a great influence on kids in the next generation! Check into it!
Texting, emailing and Skype are great ways to communicate with someone far away. But, I propose another, possibly more meaningful way. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned, but there is something extra special about receiving a handwritten note in the mail.
I need to provide a disclaimer that I grew up writing letters and sending them through the mail. I even had a couple of pen pals over the years. When my family went to Mexico, phone calls were very expensive and the internet and email did not exist. Written letters were what we waited 6 weeks to receive from the time they were sent. (Yes, you read that right! It took at least 6 weeks to get a letter!) This is how we communicated with friends, grandparents, and supporters.
Even though communication is easier and faster, I still cherish some of those handwritten notes that I saved from past years – especially those of my grandma that died years ago.
Being a missionary can be, and often is, a very lonely job. A note of encouragement may be exactly what the missionary is needing to continue to learn the language, counsel someone, or continue to trudge through the forest to reach a remote people. A tangible piece of paper that they can tack up on a wall or pull out to read again and again may be one of their most valuable possessions. Did you know that some missionaries only receive one or two notes of encouragement a year? Your thoughts and prayers for them can make a huge difference!
So, get out those pens and pieces of paper. Let them know that you remember them, you are praying for them, and you know that God will encourage them. (Just be careful with what you say in some countries that are not friendly to Christians or missionaries…you don’t want to get them kicked out or thrown in jail because of something you wrote!)
(Also, don’t forget that you will need to check with your local post office to find out how much postage to put on your letter. One US stamp will not likely be enough to send to most other countries. 😉 )
Some cultures are not open to the gospel, and some countries do not allow Christian missionaries to come into their country. A type of missionary that is very useful in these situations is a hotel worker, manager or tour guide.
(Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto.com)
I know a missionary that serves in a predominantly Muslim country. They cannot openly go as missionaries, so instead they went as a manager and tour guide for a local hotel. They are there to do a job, but also to be salt and light in a dark culture. By working there and forming relationships they are able to share the hope of the gospel with some who might never have heard of it. People in these cultures are much more likely to trust in Jesus if they have a relationship with a Christian that they trust.
Do you like to travel and learn about other cultures? Do you enjoy spending time with people? Maybe you have thought you could never be a missionary because you haven’t gone to seminary or Bible School…but this is one job that you could do without that training! Just think of the possibilities…you could be a hotel manager, tour guide, chef, nanny, tutor, personal shopper, etc.
Is this something you could do?
Have you been feeling like your house is a mess? Are you on board with the recent trend for downsizing and decluttering? Do you need a great way to get rid of extra stuff?
Use all those extra items to hold a garage sale to benefit your favorite missionary!
A garage sale is a great way to make a little bit of extra money by getting rid of all those unneeded items that are lying around. You can organize this on your own or join with a friend or several families. Sell your items for specific prices or just ask for donations…you choose what works for you!
Use the proceeds from your garage sale to:
- Send a one-time donation to your missionary. You can probably do this online very easily.
- Donate the money to the missions fund at your church.
- Purchase a certain item that your missionary needs or wants. When I was a Senior in high school, a donation was given to our family by a Sunday School class for us to be able to purchase a clothes dryer. We had wished for one for years, but hanging clothes out to dry was our only option since we didn’t have funds to buy one. This donation was a huge blessing to me and my mom.
- Give your missionary a special Christmas or birthday donation. They might wish they had enough money for gifts at Christmas, and your donation may be the only way that they are able to purchase these. Just imagine the joy the parents will feel when their children are able to open some packages!
- Support someone going on a short-term missions trip.
Another way you can make some money if you don’t want to hold a garage sale is to put some items into a consignment sale. There are some relatively new consignment sales for kids’ items, and these are a great alternative for people who don’t want to sit for several days watching a garage sale. Search online for a consignment sale in your area.
Most consignment sales have options where you can tag your own items or have them tag them for you, and then you take home a certain percentage of the sale amount. (I recently consigned my kids’ outgrown clothes in one where I earned 70% of what things sold for.) I tagged the items myself and dropped them off. Then, I picked up what was left over 4 days later. ? (Items typically sell for higher prices at these sales. Something you might only sell for $1 at a garage sale might sell for $3-4 at a consignment sale!)
Either of these options is great for people who don’t have any wiggle room in their budget. If you have been wishing that you could do more to support a missionary but every last penny goes to feed your family and keep a roof over your head, this is a great way to be able to do something amazing and help!
Have you ever had a garage sale to benefit a missionary? I’d love to hear how you did it and how much you were able to donate!
As I was growing up, my family was richly blessed by a man named Dr. Schaffer. This man was a dentist/orthodontist based in Florida, and he decided to help missionary kids be able to have straight teeth.
Every three months, this man and his wife would load their supplies up and fly to southern Mexico where I lived. He would then spend 3-4 days doing orthodontics for missionary kids. His wife was his assistant on the trips. They would stay in a room at a local Bible seminary, and the local missionary community would organize whatever he needed. I lived in a large city where several missionary families were based, and we would sign up to provide lunches, dinners, and provide transportation to and from the airport and wherever he needed to go. A missionary mom organized the schedule of patients prior to his arrival and made calls to each family. He required no payment for his services.
This was a huge blessing to me! My family did not have enough support (like many missionaries), and braces would have likely been too expensive for us to afford. And my teeth were horribly crooked!
But, thanks to Dr. Schaffer and his generosity, I have straight teeth!
There are many ways that dentists and orthodontists can be missionaries.
- They can travel and work alone, like Dr. Schaffer.
- A group of dentists and/or orthodontists can plan to come together.
- Sometimes they accompany a medical caravan. In addition to medical care, people can have their teeth checked and receive fillings and tooth extractions. This is a great way to help poor indigent people that cannot afford dental care or don’t have a dentist close. This is a great way to partner with a local missionary or church to reach out to their community and teach more people about Jesus.
Have you thought about becoming a dentist or orthodontist? Share this post with your own dentist or someone that you know that is planning to become one!
It has been several weeks since I have posted here at FamiliesForMissions.com. This was not part of the plan, of course. But sometimes illness sidelines someone with the best of intentions.
I have an illness called Meniere’s disease. This is an inner ear problem that causes vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). I was diagnosed with this a couple of years ago and suffered quite a bit with weekly vertigo episodes. I was able to receive steroid shots through the affected ear drum, and these shots gave me some relief from the vertigo for a little over a year. I still had the hearing loss, ringing in my ear, and unsteadiness, but I was able to function well.
Several weeks ago, the vertigo returned. When the vertigo happens, it feels as if the entire world is spinning around me for several hours, and it is impossible to do anything but lie in bed with my eyes shut. Then, I typically have several days of marked unsteadiness. I can’t drive, and I need help watching my children and taking care of them. There is no cure, but there are a few medications that can help with symptoms.
Needless to say, this makes writing and editing blog posts very difficult. I am making plans and will be posting more regularly now. Thanks for your patience!
I look forward to sharing more great missions ideas with you and your family!
Recently, one of our church’s missionaries was back in the United States for a visit. A lunch meeting was planned, and the church was in need of volunteers to buy and prepare food for a meal after the morning services. Our missionaries were going to share their story, ministry, and vision with anyone attending the lunch meeting.
A simple way that we were able to help was to purchase supplies for the lunch. We decided on a “make-your-own-deli-sandwich” buffet. This only required a little bit of time to go to the store, set the supplies up on trays, and make sure that the food was ready. About 40 people were able to eat sandwiches, fruit, chips, and cookies…and they were able to get to know the missionaries better.
Now, we know things to pray for. We know specific needs. We know what their kids look like. We will think of them when we see certain things. Our kids were able to listen to them and will remember meeting them and hearing about where they work.
I would encourage you to look for opportunities like this! Your kids will talk about it for days. ?
As you can imagine, there are not enough missionaries to care for and disciple all of the people that have newly trusted in Jesus as their Savior. Some of these new believers have a desire to continue to spread the good news about Jesus, and some even want to become pastors. But where do they get training to do this? Many are very poor and there are not enough seminaries or theological colleges close to them.
One kind of missionary that many people do not think of is a seminary teacher. There are some people that travel from the United States to another country to teach for a few weeks each year. Most of these missionaries go to another country and live in that culture and environment. They learn the language and cultural nuances by immersing themselves in the local culture. Instead of being a pastor of a local church, they spend their time teaching people how to become a pastor and how to study the Bible and explain it to others.
Some of the goals of a seminary teacher are:
- Provide quality theological teaching
- Equip local people to teach the Bible
- Answer questions about difficult passages in the Bible
- Train local pastors and teachers
- Teach people to recognize false teaching
- Provide scripturally founded local teachers for new believers in Jesus
One location that has seminary teachers is Harare Theological College in Zimbabwe, Africa. You can read more about it here.
There is also a seminary in Puebla, Mexico (where I grew up) called Seminario Biblico de Puebla. They have a boarding school and evening class options, and many local Mexican people have trained there.
Activities to do with your kids:
- If you have young kids, let them set up a podium or desk and pretend to be a Bible professor.
- Read more about Zimbabwe and being a Bible professor. Check your local library for great books on travelling to Zimbabwe.
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