Who are the easiest people to care for? Those in our immediate vicinity of course! For many people, this makes caring for missionaries quite tricky because they are often only in our midst for a couple of months every few years.
Sadly, most missionaries find that the longer they are away, the less they hear from people at home. There is a flurry of contact immediately following each Home Assignment, but as the months and years pass, the contact can often wear thin.
Ongoing care is essential for missionaries. Below are some ways that you can continue caring for missionaries long after they have gone on location, as well as when they’re back in Australia for Home Assignment.
But don’t forget that missionary service is a partnership and missionaries want to care for their supporters as well. They love to receive updates from you so that they can be praying for you, your church and your family while they are on location.
Caring for missionaries on location
Keep in touch
Write a letter or email to missionaries while they are away. You can encourage them by asking them about their life and by telling them about what’s been happening in your life, work, family and neighbourhood.
You can also keep them in the loop by telling them about what’s going on at your church or by sending them the parish bulletin occasionally.
If you prefer talking to writing, send them an audio or video of you or people at your church.
Note: When emailing missionaries in secure locations, check before sending messages or attachments. In some countries, emails are monitored and there are topics that you should avoid mentioning for security reasons. Make sure you read our guide to communicating with secure missionaries before you email—but don’t let it stop you from keeping in touch!
As well as praying for them on your own, you can bring your missionary’s prayer needs before your church or group. Aim for brief but regular updates.
- Include prayer for your link missionary in your church services.
- Distribute their prayer points and newsletters to members of your church and small groups. (Don’t forget to help your church kids pray! Contact your branch for a copy of the children’s prayer diary, CMS Prayer Around the World.)
- Encourage people to subscribe to your missionary’s prayer points so that they can receive them directly.
- Start a mission prayer group.
- Encourage people to take part in CMS prayer events.
- Use the Monthly Prayer Points to pray for up-to-date and specific things in the lives of CMS missionaries.
- Let missionaries know that you have been praying for them.
You can help missionaries to feel cared for by sending birthday cards, videos, magazines, books or things for their children. Many missionaries enjoy receiving parcels while on location.
It is best to check with them first to see what they would like and if there are any restrictions about what you can send as some countries have unreliable postal services or require people to pay heavy customs duties. It is particularly important to do this for missionaries in secure locations. Make sure to mark your parcel as ‘printed matter only’ or ‘NCV’ (no commercial value) or ‘gift’, depending on the contents, and to tell your link missionary when you send the parcel and what is in it.
If you have any questions, general or specific, about sending mail to missionaries, feel free to contact your local branch.
Send resources to help with their work
It can be very encouraging for missionaries to receive items that help with their ministries, such as books, craft ideas and supplies, balls and pencils, puppets to explain Bible stories, creative ideas for activities and presentations, and much more.
Remember to check first before sending things, just as we outlined above. But don’t let it stop you—missionaries in sensitive locations need just as much care as those who aren’t.
A well planned visit from supporters can be a great encouragement to missionaries. Perhaps you are passing through on your own travels and want to say hello, or maybe you want to organise a short-term trip with your church to help with a particular ministry. For more ideas and suggestions, head to the Church Connect or Resources page on this website.
Caring for missionaries on Home Assignment
Most missionaries spend about three years in their location followed by six months in Australia. It is a time for them to be refreshed, but it can also be demanding as they re-adjust to Australian culture, follow an irregular routine and travel long distances. Practical care from supporters is very much appreciated and is a great encouragement and help for missionaries on Home Assignment.
Help them to settle in
Coming back to Australia can be a culture shock for many missionaries. You can help with all the things that need to be organised and done whenever someone moves house or country.
- Set up their house by organising furniture or arranging basic food and household supplies for them.
- Help get mobile SIM cards organised and other technology.
- Offer to lend them a car for a time while they are on Home Assignment.
- Help settle their kids into local schools, churches and Australian culture.
Contact your local branch to find out if they have any specific needs for missionaries returning on Home Assignment that you could help with.
Pray for missionaries on Home Assignment.
- Pray that they would adjust to Australian culture and life on Home Assignment.
- Pray that they would have opportunities to share about their ministry on location.
- Pray for enjoyable times with families and friends.
- Pray for stability in family life despite the changing program and irregular routine.
- Pray that they would be refreshed and ready to return to location at the end of Home Assignment.
Help them to feel at home
There are many ways that you can help your link missionary to feel at home while they are in Australia.
- Visit them or invite them to join your small group or their kids to join Sunday school or youth group.
- If you or someone you know has a holiday house, perhaps you could offer it to your link missionaries as a chance for them to get away for a break at a reasonable cost.
- Lend them a hand during busy periods of Home Assignment by making meals or picking up/dropping off kids at school and other places.
- Treat them: offer to drive them somewhere, take them out to a concert or event, take them out for coffee, shout them dinner at a local restaurant, take them to the movies or invite them on a picnic.
Make the most of their visit to your church
Arrange for your link missionary to spend a week visiting your church and sharing about their ministry in a variety of meetings. Ask your link missionary for ideas or use some of the suggestions below:
- Advertise: ask your pastor/service leader if you can do a quick skit or quiz on your missionary’s country the week before they visit your church.
- Cultural nights: organise an event one evening with food, local customs and other items that teach about how the local culture impacts on your missionary’s life and ministry.
- Church services: missionaries may preach, speak about their ministry or be interviewed during church services. An informal meeting after church can also be a good way of getting to know them better.
- Small groups: inviting your link missionary to visit your small group is a great way to share with them on a deeper level.
- Youth groups: encourage your youth to think about cross-cultural mission and to pray for your link missionary by inviting them to visit your youth group or kids program.
- Parish weekend away: invite your link missionary to attend your church’s weekend away—and not necessarily as the speaker! This is a great opportunity for building relationships.