After visiting missionaries from my home church while overseas I realised how isolated they can be and how very important support is for their mission but more importantly for the health and well-being of the missionaries!
Why are missionaries isolated?
- they are culturally isolated as they try to “fit in” in the community they are serving.
- they are isolated by language, especially when they first arrive in a country.
- they are often isolated because their faith is different to those around them.
Missionaries also struggle to figure out how much time to put into building relationships with other ex-pats on the mission field when the others are on short term contacts and / or are regularly going home on furlough, to raise continuing support and / or to renew visas. This often means that the ex-pat community is very unstable with people constantly coming and going.
So what can you do from the other side of the world?
- Pray – and not necessarily just for the thing the missionary has asked you to pray for! Sometimes missionaries don’t include general items in their prayer requests such as their finances, their on going good health, their marriage, healthy family dynamics, their safety while going about day to day business etc.
- Stay in regular contact – for example by email or Skype, missionaries love to know that you are thinking and praying for them and that someone from home actually cares! The couple I meet overseas had only received a handful of emails from home in the first eight months they had been on the mission field and they were hurting because of this.
- Send a care package from home – just be aware that it can be hard to get these packages to correct place so make sure you have the right directions from the missionaries and leave plenty of time for it to be delivered!
Don’t let it be true that out of sight is out of mind for your churches missionaries!