Another great guest post in the Rookie Pastor Paternity Leave series.
I met Andrew Gale the first weekend of college and after an interesting start (a whole other story) we quickly became close friends. After he graduated he was a youth pastor before moving into the role of Pastor of Missions at a great church on the north side of Indianapolis. Andrew serves as a liaison between the church and the various missionaries and projects the church supports around the world. Seeing as how he is this unique position I wanted him to share what the local church can provide to missionaries they support. Andrew was also the first person I knew to really get into Facebook back in the mid 2000′s.
What do most missionaries need?
1. Encouragement: One of the biggest struggles I hear from missions partners is that they feel isolated. And, of course, isolation comes with the territory when you choose to live thousands of miles from friends and family Emails, letters, calls, skype, commenting on their blogs, etc. can go a long way to help provide some semblance of normalcy.
2. Care for their kids: Most missionaries will say one of the most important things to them is to have their kids cared for. Many kids come back to the states feeling like an outsider. They have straddled two cultures in formative years. The term used to describe this is Third Culture Kids. Do some research and find ways to help these kids feel loved and affirmed!
3. To be seen as humans: The same is true for parents as it is for kids. Cross-cultural survival demands a person to learn to live in a new culture. This often means abandoning aspects of their home culture. And yet, you are never fully a part of the culture you are serving and your new life experiences make you less like the culture you came from. You now officially feel like a cultural outsider.
4. Global Christians: missionaries need more people who are learning to be global Christians. Read books, watch documentaries, read blogs, and learn to relate better to the ever-changing global landscape of Christianity. A great start would be The Next Christendom by Phillip Jenkins.
5. Prayers: I have heard story after story about the power of prayer. Missionary stories of being held at gunpoint and finding out that there was a community of people praying for them right at that moment. It may seem simple, but when you live in places of difficulty, you depend so much on prayer.
6. Not more work teams: So this isn’t always true for every location, but remember that work teams add stress. As churches we want to visit and learn about ministry that’s happening globally. There is nothing wrong with that, just remember that this does add lots of additional stress to an already difficult lifestyle.
7. Listen: There are lots of great stories and not a lot of people to share them with. Listen. Ask good questions.
8. Money: So this is obvious. Money fuels a lot of global ministry. But more than money most will say they want relationships. Relationships that can offer support, encouragement, and prayer.