Monday, May 26, 2008

Practical Ways to Support a Missionary

Yesterday I finished a five week of sermons as part of Harvest's reaching series (sermon podcasts here). In the last sermon I talked about not only going, but giving and supporting those who go to far off places as well. Below is a list of practical ways that you can partner with someone in cross-cultural ministry.

Also, if you are currently living far away from "home" (or have in the past) and have some additional ideas, feel free to drop them in the comments section.

Practical Ideas
1) Contact a missionary on a regular basis- Use some regular event to remind you. For example every holiday that is on a Monday or after every newsletter that they send out, get in touch with them. Use E-mail, Skype, or write them a letter to encourage them. Ask them how they are and how you can pray for them.

2) Support a Missionary Financially- Where we put our money effects how we pay attention to something or someone. Even if you can only afford $5/ month, this will cause you to be involved on an emotional and spiritual level with tose whom you are supporting. Also, be faithful in your giving. When you make a pledge, those who you are partnering with will factor that into their monthly budget. If you are inconsistent you will mess with their budget and ability to do their work well.

3) Inspire others to Join you- If you invite friends to join with you this has a multifaceted benefit. You and your friends will be working together on a common goal, and will potentially build a deeper community as you meet and pray for these workers and the field country. Not, only that but it is very difficult (if not impossible) for workers in the field to connect with new people while they are away, but you may be able to expend their support base by inviting your friends to join you. Also, it seems like the best givers find ways to multiply their giving by inviting others to join them or match them.

4) Support a missionary in their local currency- I was recently brainstorming with a local pastor about ways to support a missionary and one creative way we came up with was supporting them in their local currency. This would require a lot of work on your part, but would be very enlightening as to the everyday needs of a missionary. When we first moved to Spain $.85 bought us a Euro, by the time we left 6&1/2 years later $1.30 bought us a Euro. We lost $.50 in spending power. One interesting thing that happened to us was that every year we had more dollars raised and every year our salary went down.

5)Connect your Children to missionaries- If your students have to do a report on a certain country have them contact a missionary and interview them. I was exposed to Spain in 3rd Grade when a missionary came to our public school and talked about the cultural differences of living in Spain.

6)Unexpected Gifts- Read a good book, hear a good new album? Pass it along and help missionaries feel connected to their home culture. Sometimes it is difficult to find a good book in your first language while in a foreign country. Sometimes you have no idea about what is going on in the music scene.

7)Go on a Short-term trip- If you really want to bless a missionary go visit them. They will surely show you some of the local cuisine. Even if you can't speak the language there are tons of ways that you can serve them from work projects and cleaning to baby-sitting so that they can get their work done or spend more time with people.

8) Vacation- When you are planning a vacation, consider spending time in a country where some missionaries that you know live live. Invite them to join you or stop and visit them for a few days. Even if you only meet with them for a meal, you will be an encouragement to them.

9) Remember Inflation- If you are financially supporting someone, remember that with inflation most costs go up 3-5% every year. One simple way to assist a missionary that you are giving to is to automatically bump up you giving by this percentage every year if you can. If everyone maintains the same giving level, the missionaries wil have to continue to seek a bigger and bigger pool of supporters just to maintain their current level of support.