My family was blessed several times by someone giving us a gift during our time in the United States. Sometimes this involved giving money, but many times it was an item that was very useful to us.
One such instance was a family that gave us a military-grade water filter. They knew that we needed to purchase several large 10-gallon “garrafones” of water every week in order to have drinking and cooking water that was safe. They saw a need and decided to purchase this for us. It was extremely helpful, and saved us lots of money over the years.
Another example was a Sunday School class that heard that we did not have money to purchase a clothes dryer. This meant that I grew up helping hang clothes and taking them off of the clothes line. It also became tricky to get clothes dry during rainy season because you had to wash clothes early and get them hung. They needed to be dry by midafternoon because it rained almost daily. This class took up a collection of money and gave us money to purchase a clothes dryer upon returning to Mexico. This was my senior year of high school.
I encourage you to find out some needs from a missionary with whom you have contact. You may be able to give them a gift while they are back in the States raising support, or you may be able to send them a gift of money to purchase the item in the country where they live. Find out the best way to accomplish this. There may be limits on what they can carry or take back, and there may be rules about what can go through customs. Also, they may have to pay extra to get something through customs.
Here are some gift ideas to get you started thinking:
- A new laptop
- A water filtration system
- A washing machine or clothes dryer
- An appointment for family photos
- A kindle
- An ipad
- A cordless phone or cell phone
- A car (for them or their child staying for college)
- A gift card
- A massage
- A hair appointment
- Boxes of diapers
- A carseat
- A stroller
- A homeschool curriculum
- A musical instrument
- A bicycle
- A tool (saw, drill, etc.)
- A sewing machine
- An instant pot or slow cooker
- A blender or food processor
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!
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. 😉 )
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!
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. ?
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!)
Did you know that you can donate money to a missionary without giving it through your local church? One of the most obvious ways to be a blessing to a missionary is to donate money to their ministry. This can be a great way to feel more involved and connected to them. (This should not take the place of your normal tithing to the local church, but should be in addition to it.) ? You can choose to do this:
- One time – give a one-time gift when you have the money available or choose a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. (This can bless the missionary by supplying some extra funds for something they have been needing or wanting.)
- On a regular schedule – monthly is the most common, but you could choose quarterly or yearly. (Giving on a regular basis is a huge blessing! This helps the missionary to plan ahead and know how much income to expect on a monthly basis.)
How do you do this?
- You can give money directly to a missionary that is visiting. (Doing this means you won’t get a receipt for a tax-deduction, but you’ll get to give it to them personally!)
- Send a check to their stateside mission address or P.O. Box.
- Sign up for automatic donations online from your bank account or credit card. (This is the easiest! You won’t forget to send in the money that they are counting on if it happens automatically.)
How do you find someone to send it to?
- Ask your missions pastor.
- Ask a friend if they have a missionary that they donate to.
- Read about missionaries online and pick one. Make sure that their mission agency is a reputable one (read about their mission statement and core values, find out how they manage their money, etc.) Find a ministry that sounds interesting to you and your family.
Need some help? Try these links:
Jacob and Gina Anderson (Wycliffe Missionary Pilot in Brazil)
Daren and Elissa Tompkins (SIM Physician in Zambia, Africa)
I can tell you, from personal experience, just how much of a difference a donation by a family can make. My parents support (a.k.a. money) came from several churches and a large list of supporting couples and families that made it a priority to send money every month. Some sent only 10 or 25 dollars per month. This may seem like a very small amount of money in the big scheme of things, but it all added up. If it were not for these families, we could have never gone to the mission field.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t we already have a post on praying for a missionary?”. And yes, we did. If you’d like to read it, you can go here.
But praying for a missionary’s kids can need a little bit of a different focus. So, today we are going to talk about specific prayer needs for missionary kids.
- Adjustment to new situations – Missionary kids are exposed to many new situations, both in their host country abroad and when they come back to their passport country. Some adjust very easily, but some struggle with each change. Prayer for easy transitions is important.
- Language acquisition – Some languages are easy to pick up and learn, while others are very difficult. Some children learn languages quickly, while others seem to struggle. Younger children tend to pick up languages more easily and also seem to have a better “local” accent. Pray that they learn the language quickly.
- Salvation – This should be the most important thing that we pray for…and the most important for the missionary parents.
- Health – We need to pray for general medical health. They need protection from illnesses and injuries. Many children also have learning or physical disabilities, and we should pray that God would provide the appropriate medical care, therapies, and help for their them and their parents.
- Safety – This kind of ties into the health request, but missionary kids can be exposed to many different safety hazards. They may travel more often than other kids. There may be people around them that are against Americans or jealous of their family and would like to harm them. There may be wild animals like hippos, spiders, etc. that could cause them harm. They may live in a village with difficult terrain that makes them more prone to broken bones and falls.
- Schooling – Choosing how to educate their children is one of the biggest decisions that a missionary family will make. They may choose to homeschool, attend a local school, or send their child to a boarding school. Each of these choices will require a different way of praying, but we also should pray that the child is able to learn well in any circumstance.
- Friendships – Missionary kids need prayer to make friends, but not just any friends…the right friends. When they are little, they need good friends to play with. As they get older, they need friends that will not influence them wrongly. We should pray that they do not choose to follow pagan or evil local practices. We should pray that their friends would help their faith grow.
Here is a link with a great article (with scriptures) for you to pray for your own children as well as missionary kids that you know. Click here to read it.
Let your missionary know what you are praying for their kids!