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!
Have you ever traveled somewhere and had to rent a car when you arrived? Or have you had to figure out how to get a car seat once you are there?
Many missionaries travel long distances to return to the United States, and then they travel again and again while in the U.S. Most don’t own cars in the U.S., and some will not have access to a car seat once they arrive.
One way you can help is to loan them something like a car or child’s car seat. These things are bulky or cumbersome and they might need them while in your area. This could save them hundreds of dollars. They might only need to use it for a weekend or a week, or they might need it for the whole summer. Find out their needs are and see how you can help. Even if you can only help part of the time, this can still be a huge help. This also helps the missionary family be good stewards with the money they are receiving from donors. They don’t need to waste donated money on a rental car if someone local can let them use one for a few days.
If you think about it, you might even be able to figure out some other things that a missionary could use. All you probably need to do is ask them. Do they need a saw, a blender, a ladder … I bet you could think of other ideas. Share them with us!
I was recently talking about different types of missionaries with my kids because I want them to know about all different types of mission work. I realized that there might be parents out there that are only familiar with a few types of missionaries. So, I have decided to write a series of posts that will help grownups and kids both learn more about the types of mission work being done around the world. I will try to include links to websites where you can find missionaries with these jobs. I will also try to include activities that families can do that tie into that type of work, when possible.
(Photo from http://ntm-aviation.org/photos)
There are missionary pilots serving all over the world. They normally fly in countries where there are people groups that are difficult to get to (like Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Philippines, etc.). They usually live near a base, where the planes or helicopters are kept in a hangar, and they fly out to villages and remote areas when needed. Many times, they can do a flight in an hour or two that would otherwise take days. They help all kinds of people:
- Doctors taking vaccines or medicines to remote locations
- Local people who need emergency care or transportation to a hospital or clinic
- Missionaries that are working to translate the Bible into local languages in villages
- Local pastors that are traveling and preaching in different villages
- Missionaries that need supplies
Here are just a few websites that include information about missionary pilots. Take some time to read about a few…some have their own blogs or newsletters that you can subscribe to.
(Photo from http://ntm-aviation.org/photos)
Want some activities for your little aspiring pilots?
- Look up countries like Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Philippines on a map or puzzle of the world
- Make paper airplanes and watch them fly. Have a competition to see which one goes farthest.
- Look up take-off and landing videos on missions websites like the ones above. Imagine landing and taking off from the small, slanted, grass runways!
(Most of the links in this post are to direct you to another source of information. There are, however, a couple of affiliate links and Families for Missions might receive a small commission if you click on those and make subsequent purchases.)
Taking a missionary shopping may sound a little overwhelming, especially if you are an introvert or if you don’t know them well. BUT, believe me, this can be a huge blessing!
There are two ways that I have seen this happen:
- Organize a shopping trip as a church for multiple missionaries visiting at the same time. I know a church that does this every year during their missionary focus week/month and it works well. They assign a designated amount of money for each missionary family, and assign church volunteers to accompany them to the mall. It is an event for all the missionary families and church volunteers to participate in at the same time. They take pictures and then share them on Sunday with the congregation. Many times, the missionaries will buy things like tennis shoes, pants, and bathrobes. You’d be surprised how grateful they are to buy some of these things they have been needing, but unable to afford.
- Take them individually. If you are meeting them for lunch or hosting them in your home, you can figure out a time to take them shopping while you are with them or while they are in town.
Things to consider:
- Decide ahead of time if you’d like to surprise the missionary or let them know ahead of time. It might work best to plan the time, since most missionaries have a schedule to keep when they are back in the United States.
- You don’t have to go to a huge mall. Pick a smaller store if time is short.
- You also need to decide what you want to take them shopping for.
- Are you going to let them buy whatever they want?
- Are you going to ask them to identify something they need?
- Or are you going to offer to spoil them by buying an expensive perfume or makeup?
- What you are shopping for will determine what store you need to go to.
- Do you need to set a budget?
- If you have limited funds, you need to decide ahead of time how much you are willing to spend. If you only have a specific amount to spend, you can let the missionary know how much or just give them the cash and let them spend it.
Have you ever taken a missionary shopping? Consider giving it a try!
Contact your missionary friend and find out what kinds of magazines they might enjoy reading. Learn about what interests they have. What do they like?
- Children’s interests
You’ll also need to find out if they prefer to read it electronically or receive the paper version in the mail. You might check if they can even receive paper versions through the mail…. you’ll also have to check with the magazine to see if they ship overseas (it might cost a little more for overseas shipping). You’ll either need an email or a street/PO address. Look up a magazine that matches their interest and order it for them or their children. Missionary kids usually have less access to many English reading materials.
You can do this on any budget! Many magazines are available at steep discounts at different times through the year. If you participate in the Recyclebank recycling program, you can use reward points to order magazines for other people and it won’t cost you anything!
This is a great idea for a gift that is not a one-time thing…they will keep receiving new issues throughout the whole year. By the way, this is a great gift for anyone!
Here are some links to a few magazines to get you started…just click on the image!
(Some links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.)
Overseas workers, just like us, have family members that get sick or need extra care from time to time. The difference is that they are not always able to be present to care for them. Many missionaries struggle with being far away from a family member when they are sick. Some have elderly parents that are not acutely ill, but need some extra help with certain activities. Some missionaries are forced to return from their ministry if someone is not available to care for their family member.
So, an out-of-the-box way that you can be a blessing to a missionary is to offer to care for their family member. Examples of family members that may need extra care include:
- Elderly parents
- Sick parents, siblings, or children
- Missionary kids that have returned for school in the United States or are at boarding school
Ways that you can be helpful might include such things as:
- Taking them to doctor appointments
- Sitting with them in the hospital
- Driving them to church, Bible studies or book clubs
- Making meals to take to them or inviting them over for a meal
- Going grocery shopping for them
- Cleaning their house
- Mowing their lawn or doing yard work
- Respite care (sitting with an ill person while the primary caretaker gets a break)
- Giving a care package
A great way to be an encouragement to the missionary is to send them an email or call them on the phone to give them an update about their family member. They will feel relieved and grateful to know that their loved one is being checked on and looked out for.
Want a fun idea for an activity to do with the family? Check out these recipes from Wycliffe sent in by real missionary kids! You can try to make them with your kids and try foods from all over the world!