Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This is day five of our "Simple Ways to Support Missionaries" series. To catch up please click on the following links: Praying, Communicating, Volunteering, Care Packages.

Day five is about welcoming missionaries back to their home countries. Different organizations have different policies regarding "home assignment", but typically missionaries have spent 2-4 years out of their home countries and are going to experience a level of readjustment or "culture shock".

There are some ways that we can help them through these transitions:

1. Start before they show up. Be in communication, ask their needs. One concern I've heard from missionary parents is finding friends for their children during this temporary stay in their home country. If you have children of similar ages, getting them in touch before hand might help to give them friendships to look forward to. Often returning missionaries have a slew of logistics to work through - housing, transportation, schooling for children, speaking engagements, medical check-ups, etc... Learn their needs and be on the look out for ways to meet those needs.

2. Educate them. By this I mean, let them know what is happening in your church, the neighborhood that they are moving into, the school they intend to send their children to, local politics or whatever you think might be significant to their time at home. Send them newspaper clippings or church bulletins, fliers about upcoming activities or local fairs. The list goes on and on.

3. Prepare for them. My parents always felt so blessed to show up, exhausted after long flights, to our church's mission home with beds already made and a well-stocked fridge and pantry. See if there are ways you can provide for their basic needs. Most families might not be ready for a meal invitation in the first week (or maybe they would?), but taking over a frozen meal or homemade bread might be just the right thing.

4. Welcome them. Depending on your relationship and their family situation, descending en mass to the airport to greet them might not be the best idea, but have a welcome card waiting for them. Include a list of helpful phone numbers. Fresh flowers are also an uplifting greeting.

Today was our last day, and while this is in no way an exhaustive list of how to support missionaries, I hope it has helped to inspire you to be more purposeful in using your time, finances and creativity to encourage those living and ministering in foreign countries. I know I have been challenged to face my short-comings. With the way the world's economy seems to be headed, it is not going to be easier to make these choices, but it will be more necessary than ever. May God bless you as He uses you to bless others.

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