Lewis McClendon BCMN
It can be hard to know what a church should be doing for their missionaries. By taking the time to rethink Missionary Care, you will sort out your feelings and thoughts about who a missionary is to you and what you should be doing for them.
All of us are called to missions. Some are called to go, and the rest are called to support those who go. Support means more than financial support. It includes prayer support and day-to-day life support. This kind of support can only come from organized and motivated church members. No one is called to stay home and do nothing.
The New Testament is filled with instructions about how we should treat each other. We are told to love one another, serve one another, comfort one another, and bear one another’s burdens. Missionaries fall into the category of one another, so it is only right that we obey all the one another’s in the Bible with our missionaries. This is commonly referred to as Missionary Care.
One of the major reasons for preventable missionary resignations is the lack of support from home. This is something every church can do something about. How do we care for our missionaries? Missionary Care goes beyond money, shaking hands after a missionary has spoken in your church with a shallow promise to pray for them, or reading a missionary letter sent to your church. In the letters Paul wrote in the New Testament, he reveals some ways he needed care. We all consider Paul a great missionary, and he was. Even Paul was in need of care.
We can provide good missionary care by learning from Paul’s life the types of care missionaries need.
1. Care for their physical needs. In II Timothy 4:13, Paul asked Timothy to bring his cloak. A cloak is an outer covering for cold weather conditions. Everyone, including missionaries, has physical needs. When Elijah ran from Jezebel, God met his two biggest physical needs – rest and food. Generally, physical needs are the easiest to see and respond to.
2. Care for their social needs. In II Timothy 4:9-11, Paul urged Timothy to come as quickly as he could and to bring Mark with him. At that time, only Luke was with him. Paul is under the sentence of death at this time and he, in his last days, longed for the companionship of his friends. One of the biggest losses on the mission field is the loss of the relationship of family and friends. When missionaries come home from the field, their friends have moved on with new friends and activities. Recognize your missionaries’ need for a continuing relationship with friends on the mission field by keeping in contact with them while they are on the field. Create some time for them to spend time with family and friends when they are home.
In Rethinking Missionary Care Part 2, Paul’s life will reveal two more types of missionary care available to us.