Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

13 March 2014

Caring for missionaries #1

Last weekend I ran a small workshop on how to care for missionaries over the long haul.  That is, how to pray and care for them for their WHOLE tour of duty and not just when they are fresh out from home assignment, about to return home or at Christmas time.  What follows in this and four more posts is the amalgamation of the words I said and the words I handed out on paper. 

And please know that I was convicted by my own workshop!  I am as erratic at this as the next person.  But if you are interested in loving and caring for missionaries, I hope these posts will be helpful.
Who are the people easiest to keep in our prayers?  Those in our immediate vicinity, of course.  So that makes praying for missionaries quite tricky for many people, because our missionaries are only in our midst for a few months every three or so years.

And sadly, most missionaries will tell you that the longer they are away from home, the less they hear from people at home.  There are is flurry of contact immediately following home assignment but as the months and years wear on the contact, except from a faithful few, wears thin.

If we pray best for the people with whom we are in closest relationship, then the trick to keeping our missionaries in our prayers is to maintain a close relationship with them – which means regular, faithful, disciplined contact to keep the relationship alive and present. 

What follows (in this and four more posts) is a variety of ways to keep in touch and to keep praying on a regular basis.

Prayers you can pray for every missionary,
even if you are unsure of their specific circumstances:

You can pray for...

*   Opportunities for them to share the gospel, courage to do so and wisdom in doing so.

*   Personal spiritual health – daily prayer and daily personal Bible reading that is encouraging and refreshing.

*   Safety and for good health - physical and psychological.

*   Family life - for a strong marriage and for their children - or for dealing with singleness on the field.  And pray for the missionary’s family left back at home.

*   That they won’t be homesick.

While not specific, time spent praying these things for missionaries will be time well spent for the Kingdom.


Wendy said...

It's the truth. The longer you are away, the less often people connect with us. We hardly ever get letters or emails these days.

Homesickness has become less and less of an issue the longer we've been away.

You could also pray for their psychological health. Discouragement, loneliness, depression etc. lurk for missionaries as much as anyone else. Perhaps more, because they are often isolated, have few who they can be friends with, and have a tendency to be workaholics, not tending to their own needs for recreation.

Sarah said...

Thanks for this great post, Meredith. I'm the missionary convenor at my church, but I feel like I far from practise what I preach a lot of the time. An excellent reminder.

Meredith said...

Hi Wendy.

It's a sad truth. I think part of it is the change in the way we communicate. You know, that we hardly write letters anymore and also, with the volume that comes at us electronically, we barely pause to comment or reply electronically either. Even in the blogging world I get far less comments these days. We take stuff in, quickly, and then move on. And so I think we just need to slow down and do a bit of retraining.

Good point about the psychological health. That is always on my radar but it may not spring immediately to mind for others. I have added that to my text, just to make it completely clear.

And hi Sarah.

Good work in seeking to encourage your church. Don't be discouraged by what follows. I have aimed high!

And it is hard work being the convener. Some people have a heart for missionary care and it isn't always easy to bring others along who are not so naturally inclined, especially if they have never met a real missionary. Pray for those people too. And press on with your great work Sarah, and don't feel overwhelmed by the task.