Being His Hands: Missionary Edition
Some people have a gift.
They look into your eyes and see something’s troubling you. They just know. They ask the right questions. They learn you’re overwhelmed or hurting or grieving or in pain. They find solutions to alleviate some of your burdens. They encourage you, love on you, dive in and help in just the right way. They are God’s hands in your life.
I am not one of those people.
I’m that person who should be observant—I’m a writer after all. Don’t writers see everything? Not this one. I get so caught up in my fictitious world that I miss the one around me. Is that you? Oh, not the writer bit. (We’re an odd breed.) But maybe you’re caught up in your busyness, and everything else is just a blur. It happens.
Or maybe you’re in between. You’re the kind of person who sees the issue, but you’re shy. You don’t know what to do or what to say… So you take a second look at that family who shares the pew with you or give a warm smile across the aisle, but go your own way, wishing you could help. But…not.
This series is for you.
This series is for me.
It’s meant to make us aware of situations faced by those sitting next to us in the pew and to equip us to reach out…to be the hands of Christ.
~ Jenness Walker
Maybe they knew from the time they were a child. Or maybe they felt it during a missionary service at a camp meeting. Or maybe they’d already settled into a comfortable life in the States before they heard the call.
The call to pack up and leave everything they’ve ever known. To raise funds and trust God for the rest. To travel to another country where they may or may not speak the language. To begin a new life focused on bringing others to Christ.
A noble calling, for sure. An exciting adventure with new sights and experiences and a front-row seat to seeing what God can do when a person throws himself wholeheartedly into His work.
But sometimes the mission field is a lonely place. With our missionaries so far away, how can we be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives?
For this article, I heard from missionaries who are actively ministering across the world today. Here are some ways they thought we could be a blessing to families like theirs:
While they’re stateside:
~When a missionary is packing or getting ready to leave, it can sometimes feel like their world is turned upside down. While things are so uncertain, it’s nice to know somebody cares. Some great ways to show that are to offer to bring a meal to them. Offer to bring paper plates and cups. Or call and say, “I’m at Sonic what’s your favorite shake?” That could mean a lot!
~While a missionary family is on deputation, taking care of their meals is so appreciated. Especially when it’s a home-cooked one, as it is so welcoming and the hospitality means a lot. But since that’s not always possible, consider asking where they ate out last, to avoid feeding them McDonald’s three meals in a row.
~We’ve enjoyed the hospitality of many during deputation, especially thanks to Mission Helps, and we especially like places where we are able to be on our own and do our own cooking for a few days.
~We haven’t had the experience of coming back home yet, but I know from coming home many times as a missionary child, it was absolutely wonderful to always return to a beautiful home that was fully finished and ready for us to drop out suitcases and relax, with clean sheets and hot showers and food in the pantry. There was always a couch, chairs, table, beds, linens, dishes, food, some new clothes. My aunt would even ask us kids several months in advance what we wanted our bedrooms like, then she’d go to garage sales and get the word out that she needed certain things for our house. By the time we got home, our rooms were just how we had imagined them. I know the church people gave (or loaned stuff they weren’t using – furniture, etc) and that really made us feel like we were still part of our church. They always had a food shower for us when we got home, too.
~A ministry one missionary would love to see is one that contacts the families before they return home to find out the clothing sizes for the mom especially. It’d be wonderful to find a nice wardrobe of beautiful clothes waiting, as it can be humiliating coming home with a suitcase full of worn-out attire.
~While on deputation, people have given us money specifically to do things with our family. A couple times people have given us money to take our children to the zoo. Some have given so they could have “spending” money at the store.
While they’re in the field:
~Our pastor’s wife has e-mailed us almost every week with a newsy update, and that has really made us feel like we’re still part of our church and has been very special for us. I think people don’t message or e-mail because they don’t think they have anything “important” to say. We don’t need to know the important stuff. It’s the thought that counts. Every little detail makes us feel like we’re still part of our church family and part of their lives.
~Our home church has paid for our children’s school books each year.
~One church used money they had raised during VBS to give to our children to buy a bigger gift that we wouldn’t buy otherwise.
~It’s so nice when people let us know they have been praying for us. Some even ask if we have any prayer requests from time to time.
~It’s special when we receive birthday cards. The children liked when a balloon or stick of gum was included.
~We had someone who sent us a package at Christmas with a gift for each of our children.
Every situation is a little different. No one is exactly alike. But ask. Stay connected. And become the hands of Jesus in the sometimes-forgotten lives of these families who have answered the call to go.
A special thanks to the Schaper and the Motovilov families and others for sharing their thoughts and experiences!