Helping Families Learn About Missions And Become Involved With Missionaries
Author: Jennifer Brannon
Jennifer Brannon is a former missionary kid who lived in Puebla, Mexico, from age 11 to age 19. She now lives in Kansas with her husband and three children. She wrote "Missionary Kid Stories" to educate and inspire children to dream about becoming missionaries. She wants children to learn about all different kinds of missionaries and mission work. In this way, they will grow to understand that God can use all kinds of people and talents to tell others about Himself.
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.
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.
Here is a link to a great series of videos about a family that travels with their kids. You can get some great ideas or just watch for fun! These are free right now with Amazon Prime. (Pricing on Amazon changes frequently, so make sure you double-check the price before watching!) You may also be able to find some episodes on your local PBS station.
Season 5: Includes videos about Cabo Mexico, Wales UK, Rome Italy, Churches of Rome, Tahiti French Polynesia, Moorea Island French Polynesia, The Yangtze River and 3 Gorges Dam, Vietnam – Hanoi & Ha Long Bay Adventure, Bangkok, Jungles & Elephant Adventures, Hawaii – Oahu & Honolulu for Kids, Park City Utah Ski Family Adventure, South Africa Safari Family Adventure, South Africa Cape Town and Sharks.
Season 6: Travel With Kids takes you to the Big Island of Hawaii for Families, Los Angeles California with kids, South Africa’s Garden Coast, South Africa’s Wildlife Adventures, Bora Bora Island French Polynesia, Cancun Mexico With Kids, Huatulco Pacific Coast of Mexico, Belize Islands and Jungles With Kids, Belize Caribbean Coast With Kids, Beijing & The Great Wall of China with Kids, Fiji & Castaway Island, Botswana, Africa Safari Adventure, Maui Hawaii For Kids.
(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, familiesformissions.com may receive a small compensation.)
Vacation season is approaching fast, and many families are making plans for trips during the coming months. Missionaries usually have to travel quite a bit, but it is not usually for pleasure or a vacation. While in the United States, they are tasked with traveling to different churches and visiting different supporting individuals. Their schedule can be exhausting, and staying with strangers can be very stressful. Sometimes, they long to “go home” to the country where they serve to be able to rest a little bit.
You can help provide a much-needed rest in the midst of this chaos. Do you have a vacation home, timeshare, or RV? You can offer this to a visiting missionary and give them an option of a way to get away for a few days. Due to financial constraints, this may be the only way they could ever experience something like this.
Now, you may be thinking, “My timeshare isn’t anywhere exotic”. While this may be true, and it may be in the middle of the United States in a “boring” location, the missionary can still get away to rest and recharge.
Make sure you know the exact dates that the home or RV is available. Also, make sure you know any rules about who can stay there or use it, and pass these on to the missionary.
If you don’t have a timeshare or RV, you can still offer to help the missionary rest. Offer to pay for a night or two in a hotel or bed and breakfast somewhere along their travels. You could even buy tickets for them at an attraction close-by. (I would recommend coordinating this with your missionary friends, as they may not have extra days available for other activities or they might rather just choose to actually rest!)