I recently had the opportunity to go to a women’s retreat in northern Italy with about 11 other women from a different organization but most of whom I know. This was the second year I have been invited to go, and it could not have come at a better time.
I was becoming weary and worn.
I needed rest.
I needed to be with friends without any obligations or responsibilities.
I needed a break. From cooking and cleaning and school. From life.
And as I walked through the lush, green fields with the sun shining warm on my face or sat with a friend talking about marriages and children while sipping a steaming cup of coffee or played games in a cozy living room with a fire roaring inside and a storm howling outside, I rested. Deep in my bones rested.
That weekend was made possible through the efforts of several, but the no cooking and gifts from America (think lots of Bath and Body Work!) were made possible because three ladies from a church in Fayetteville, Tennessee, came to serve us. They prepared all our meals and cleaned up afterwards. They brought us notes from other women in their church who are praying for us. They brought American “goodies” that we do not get to indulge ourselves in here (I mentioned the Bath and Body Works, right?). They served us. And in serving us, breathed energy and rest and peace into our weary souls.
One of these women, Mrs. Sherry, organizes all of the food and notes and gifts and treats. This was her third time to come. She has invested in the women serving here and their families. She knows about our families and our lives. And we know about hers. She cares about us. She loves us. She prays for us.
In serving us, they are serving our families and our ministries. I came home rested and ready to go. And though I didn’t knowit at the time, I was going to need to be rested for what awaited me when I got back home.
When you invest in the lives of missionaries, you make a lasting impact not only in their lives but in their ministries. You are helping keep them sustained.
There are not many ministering to the missionary, who are constantly pouring out. Being able to “fill your tank” yourself is an important skill missionaries have but sometimes you need someone to fill it for you. When the tank gets low and all that is keeping you going is fumes, there is a need for being filled up. I am not saying that people take the place of God. I am saying that this is an aspect of “missions” that is overlooked by the majority of churches. I have seen so many friends who are just burnt out. They are tired and worn and weary. Spiritual warfare is real and if you don’t believe it then you haven’t been overseas. And when you are in that atmosphere day in and day out, you get beat down. This is when having people who are invested in you is so important. You can reread a letter, or look up an old text, or even eat a spoonful of something delicious from home and have the feeling that somebody is in the fight with you, going before you to the LORD on your behalf.
Choose to invest in missionaries. Because this is a big task, it’s advisable to prayerfully consider in how many you can truly invest. Whether it’s one or ten, I guarantee that you will benefit from it as much as the missionaries.
So what could this possibly look like??
Here are some ideas:
Send them and their children letters and packages. Sometimes a hand-written note or a favorite snack will keep that missionary going strong for another 3 months. I have cried over Welch’s Fruit Snacks that were sent to the kids…and I may have cried into a few packs as well. They just taste so stinkin’ good. Thanks Welch’s.
Call them. Set up Skype or Facetime appointments. IT’S FREE.
Send them a text. There are many free texting apps. We use WhatsApp.
Go visit them in their host country in order to serve them. Ask them before you go how you can do this. But some examples of things you might consider offeringare the following: babysitting their kids for a weekend so mom and dad can get away (F.Y.I. babysitters don’t exist for most of us, especially if we have no teammates); offer a guys or gals weekend for a group of missionaries where you show up and do everything and the missionaries relax; offer to do childcare for a team retreat; if you are a counselor, offer to do some counseling (this can also be done via the interwebs); for couples, clean their house and cook so BOTH parents can give their children undivided attention; for folks with kids, show up and play with the kids.
Making the conscience choice to invest in missionaries helps keep them encouraged, makes them feel loved, and gives them the knowledge that they are prayed for by specific people…and in doing this it helps further the kingdom.
And who knows, you might just get a return on that invest one day.