Do you know a cross-cultural missionary who is away from loved ones for Christmas? Do you help financially support such workers through your church or personally? If so, I encourage you to keep at it and prayerfully consider increasing your contribution.
Regardless of your ability to give additional funds, there is a way for you to help them. Always respond to their communications. Always write them after you receive a report or prayer request.
Maybe you don’t know them that well. Don’t let that get in your way. You can overcome that deficiency given enough time. Realize the cumulative effect of consistent actions. If they stay on their post for five years and you respond to their monthly reports you will have written them 60 times. They will have come to value and anticipate your communication as much as you do theirs.
Last February I travelled to Asia to encourage English teachers to be intentional and strategic in making disciples who make disciples. I shared my email, Facebook, Twitter and blog addresses. Over the next several months I began to have contact with a few of them. I always made it a point to respond to their posts on their blogs, reply to their newsletters and acknowledge their prayer requests.
The second thing I began to do was take note of the blogs they read. Checking these out led me to additional teachers in the same region engaged in the same work. I began to respond to their reports and posts also. Today I follow about 35 missionary blogs. I am encouraged by my increased awareness of what God is doing in our world. I am also more mindful of the needs of these workers.
You probably don’t have time to interact with as many as I do, but will you encourage one or two? Will you pray for one or two? If so, I suggest you always respond (in writing) to their correspondence. Be sure to take note of where they are and what their special needs are. If they are in a restricted access country, realize the need for care. If they use the phrase “good book” instead of “Bible,” then follow their lead. If they speak of the “church” where they are as “family”, do likewise. Most will not allow your comments to be posted without moderation and they will catch your mistakes and not allow them to be viewed publicly. Just use good judgment, but always be encouraging.
Build them up. Note the things they are doing that are praiseworthy and express your appreciation. Use your abilities to let them know that they are not doing this work alone. Let them know that you are lifting them up. From time to time I encourage you to write out a prayer and send that to them. Claim one of God’s promises for them. Pray the Lord’s Prayer for them. Ask King Jesus to let his kingdom come, that his will be done in ___________________ just like it is in heaven. Be an intercessor for them.
Some of those couples in Asia asked me to be a mentor to them because they found my comments helpful. The fact that I did this without knowing any of them well made me stand out. (May I be brutally honest? One reason I stood out was so few of their family and friends comment on their blogs.) I realize I do not have access to their personal email accounts, so they may get lots of encouragement that way, but I suspect that does not happen either. We can do better than that.
It is easier to intend to change than it is to build new patterns of behavior. I once shared a 31 day list of prayers to pray for missionaries with the church where I preach. I realized a couple of weeks later that I was not practicing what I was preaching. I sat down with that list and adapted it to use as daily Facebook posts—reminding myself to pray for these friends. I wanted to redeem the beneficial opportunities I saw available in social networking, but I needed to be disciplined. I get more comments about those posts than anything I do online.
What can you do? Pray for and encourage one.
If you realize it will take some kind of external reminder for you to build a new habit of praying and encouraging, comment on this blog and I will help. I know about an email application that will send you a daily reminder to pray/write. I will be happy to share it with you if you wish.
Be the encourager these kingdom spreaders need!