Sadly, over the centuries of missionary efforts, there has been a huge disconnect between the church at home and those sent to the mission field. People at home are not sure what to do or say to us on the field, and we on the field often feel forgotten and abandoned. At the same time, it’s hard for us on the mission field to describe accurately what it’s like over here at the ends of the earth, so give up trying, leaving those at home without the full knowledge of what’s happening and what we’re going through.
Jesus’ plan all along is for us ALL to work together in sharing the Gospel to every nation, tribe and tongue. Satan is terrified that if we all get together 100% in our roles for missions, that we actually WILL fulfill the Great Commission. So he brings disconnect.
Since I am writing from the missionary perspective, here are 10 practical ways that family, friends, co-workers, and the church back at home can support and partner with us as we share the Gospel to the whole world.
1. Believe Supportively
All missionaries experience God’s love, then His call to spread the Gospel to the nations. It’s a call that grows up so strong within us, that we can’t think of anything else but getting out to the nations. The world is dying without Jesus, and every day we stay, the realization of souls dying without even having access to the Gospel breaks our hearts. We need the church to believe that the call and power of God within us is enough to stake money, time, and prayers on. It’s risky for us to go, and it’s risky for you to support. On both sides, we battle doubts and lies from the enemy. We need you to believe that God can do impossible and amazing things through us, and that you get to be part of it. We need you to believe in the dreams the Holy Spirit spoke to our hearts, and encourage us in those dreams.
2. Pray Powerfully
Prayers put daggers in the heart of the enemy. We don’t need people at home to pray weak prayers for us like, “And God, remember ____. Bless him/her.” We are on the “front lines” in countries where the Gospel has either never been taken or is not well-known.
It’s like living in a dragon’s cave and pulling people out of his tail daily. It takes risk, courage, creativity, and love. Sometimes we get wounded, and sometimes we get paralyzed by fear. Sometimes we battle sleeping as we hear the dragon’s deep breaths as chants from mosques, temples, and nighttime screams. Sometimes we get tempted to let go of people as the dragon roars doubts, lies, and discouragement in our faces. Sometimes the dragon pulls out temptations of our forsaken family, country, possessions, and old life ways and dangles them between our faces and those chained to his tail, causing a great distraction.
We need powerful prayers from you! Not just short, last-thought on a prayer list prayers. We need to be prayed for as sons and daughters on the front-lines of battlefields are prayed for. I encourage you to adopt some missionaries to battle for in prayer—prayer for faith, encouragement, continued vision, strategy, health, wisdom, protection, and harvest reaping. Then we can celebrate in joy together during the harvest!
3. Contact Frequently
Once missionaries get onto that plane going to our new host countries, we leave all familiar relationships behind. Usually, for the first 6 months, churches and friends stay in contact. After those first months, “out of sight, out of mind” becomes reality. Your lives move on in the process of normal busy life. Even when we contact you or send out newsletters, we often never receive responses (no wonder so many of us stop doing it). A simple “Like” on FaceBook is not connection.
We rely on God for relationship in ways we only said we believed and sang about in our home countries, but we also get lonely. It’s a deep, aching loneliness. We long for contact with friends and churches back home. Then we visit our home countries to big applause and you all saying how much you think of us. Honestly, it’s hard to believe if we never hear from you while we are away. One simple email or quick Skype call a month can make a huge difference in a missionary’s life. Regularly connecting with us is one of the most important ways anyone can support us while we are on the mission field. You don’t have to be some of our past besties to connect, but you will become some of our dearest friends now. You will also reap in the joy of the harvest due to your deep connection to us and the mission.
4. Give Sacrificially
We realize that there is a disconnect between giving and missionaries. We don’t want to beg and plead for your money. We dislike it so much, that often we go without needed things just so that the $20 our testimonies get out of you can pay for transportation to an unreached village.
Here is a personal testimony:
I got 3 checks/cash donations the whole 7 weeks I was home over the summer. Later, I had to plead on the internet for money to fund leadership trainings and outreaches all over Nepal and Bangladesh, and even use some of my moving countries money to see those happen. If only you knew how far your money was going to reach the nations, you would joyfully give up the iPhone 9 or 10 or whatever number there is now to pay for the Gospel to be presented in an unreached area.
We wish you knew what you’re sowing into the nations. Even when we tell you, the enemy and flesh often cause a disconnect. Just as Jesus applauded the widow for giving everything she had, we are looking for those of you who lovingly sacrifice whatever you can give to fund the Gospel going to the world. We don’t want guilt money. We desire loving, sacrificial gifts that have a passion for God and the nations behind them.
I once read something that said how God is looking for martyrs to share the Gospel: Some in the going, and some in the giving. It takes both. We want a deep partnership with you, as “martyrs” for the sake of the Gospel, to see the whole world saved.
5. Remind Consistently
Did you know that one of the best ways to support us on the mission field is to be an ambassador of sorts for us? We leave for months or years, and people forget about us. Our personal supporters soon jump to the newest missionary about to go to the mission field, the newsletters don’t get mailed out, and nobody knows they can visit us here. If we have a few people back home decide to support us by reminding people to give when rent-time comes, to pray when we go to a new village, to email and encourage us, and so on….it would be an enormous blessing to us. Maybe God is speaking to some of you now to support a missionary by being a go-between and reminder of the mission that the church sent out.
6. Visit Obediently
Sometime you may want to come and see the faces you pray for, how we live, and join in the mission overseas for a short time. It is a great joy and encouragement for us to have visitors from “home” (especially when you bring us home ‘goodies’ too!). It helps you to see what you’re praying for and giving to, and it helps us to feel better understood. If you feel the Spirit nudge you to come visit us, please obediently do it. It also helps those we reach out to realize that we are NOT the only Christians in the world. Your visit will many times confirm the words we have been teaching.
7. Help Creatively
Did you know that you can help us plan and strategize for reaching the unreached people groups, from home? We may be the ones on the ground overseas, but through your involvement and prayer, God could give you amazing ideas and dreams into how to reach the people groups we are with daily. This isn’t only our mission. This is the churches’ mission. God wants to use you and your talents that He gave you to see the whole world saved. It could also be that you find some creative way to raise support for us and our people groups, leadership trainings, travels, and gifts to the communities we serve. We also desire to see you excitedly using your creativity to partner with us in reaching to the uttermost parts of the earth. What a fun, helpful, important way to support missionaries!
8. Listen Compassionately
Missionaries are not superhumans. We see things no one should ever have to see—bloodied dead bodies, kids die from AIDs, violent and unjust abuse of women, and unspeakable things. We experience trauma—natural disasters such as earthquakes, police interrogations, constant loss of dear friends, us or our children being extremely ill with strange diseases, and so on. Yet, we are expected to always have it together and be the strong ones for everyone else. If we start spilling out all of our pains to those of you back at home, we are often preached to or told we should just stay home for a while. We also don’t want to scare you away from going to the mission field. So most of the time, we just don’t speak of our traumas and the ugly side of mission work. We know and believe deeply that God is with us. We have seen Him do Acts-like miracles and felt His tangible presence. Yet, we are still human and feel the effects of what we see and experience. However, experiencing those injustices is also part of what puts that fire and desperation in us to keep going. We see the paths of killing, stealing, and destroying the dragon is leaving amongst the nations, and even though we get injured, we can’t give up. We are warriors for the kingdom.
One of the best ways to support us is to simply listen with compassion about how we are really doing. Not judging. Not trying to relate—most of you can’t, and that’s ok with us. Not being worried something is desperately wrong if we burst into tears, but glad to be a compassionate ear. We are always giving out; it’s nice to have someone simply care and listen to us for us for a few minutes.
9. Celebrate Enthusiastically
Imagine leaving all you know and love to go to a new culture, then spending months sounding stupid while learning the language, all to introduce Jesus to people who have never heard of Him. Then, breakthrough! Someone gets saved! You are so excited that you can’t sleep for days, and joyfully tell people back at home…to one little “amen”.
We know that all of heaven is rejoicing when a new language and tongue calls upon the Name of Jesus. What a joyful sound! If we are really partnering together in the Gospel efforts as we say we are, then there should be an enthusiastic celebration from home too. We want you to see the fruit of your sending, prayers, finances, and rejoice at what God is doing.
10. Join Courageously
After years of support and prayer for us on the mission field, God may call you to join the harvest fields amongst the nations. Maybe you came and visited us and saw the faces of the millions of unreached. Those faces haunt you while you drive to work, and you just know that you’re supposed to make that courageous move overseas to join us. One of our greatest prayers and desires is that as people witness our brokenness over the lost and faith in God, that one day they also will answer the call to be sent to the ripe harvest fields. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. Who wants to join us?