Thursday, March 5, 2009

5 Ways to Befriend a Missionary

5 Ways While They're in the US

  1. Before they come, learn about them and their ministry. Read their prayer letters, blogs, or websites, so that you can ask specific questions and be steps ahead in understanding what makes up "their life and ministry."
  2. Talk to them. Too easy? Well, just don't walk by their display table. Take the plunge and have a conversation. Talk about ministry, but also talk about them as a person: their hometown, college, career history, health, vacation plans (Yes, missionaries are allowed to take vacations).
  3. Invite them to your home or out for coffee. Tell them you'd like to get to know them better, and take them to a place that is a favorite of yours. They really aren't "too busy," and time together nurtures friendship. If their schedule doesn't allow right then, be flexible. Focus on the missionaries your church sends out.
  4. Talk to their family members as you have access (this means parents, husband, kids). Give them a picture of you or your family with your names on the back. They want to know and pray for you too. They can't remember everyone, but they'll be better able to remember and stay in contact with those who reach back to them.
  5. Ask God to make you aware of needs or wants your missionary friend has, and then joyfully and sacrificially be a vehicle for meeting one or more of those. Really tight budget? Offer to babysit, to accompany them to a church visit, to take them to a park or event, or give one of your favorite books that you've enjoyed.

5 Ways While They're Overseas

  1. Communicate by means like Facebook, email, or Skype, but don't be frustrated or pushy or disappointed if they don't answer right away. Many missionaries have computer problems or times without electricity or internet use. Many ministries involve travel, and so they may not always be "home." Since technical communication is a big part of missions today, they may also have a lot of catch up to do. Be patient.
  2. Resist the urge to write novels to them. Keep your communication, in general, short and sweet and personal. Just like running into a friend … in cyberspace.
  3. Use your communication to bless and uplift them. Share prayer requests and follow up on theirs. Share scripture that will encourage them. Missionaries don't have the whole Bible memorized!
  4. Put your friendship into action by sending them an occasional gift that will help them. Ask what is hard to get or what they miss. Send the latest inspirational book, study resource, magazine (secular or Christian) or special holiday decoration items. This goes for kids making friends with kids, too.
  5. Learn the boundaries of missions today. You will be a good friend by learning what restrictions and sensitivities your friend has to consider. Be very thoughtful of what language you use and what specific information you discuss. Some regions are very sensitive. You will help your friend's life and ministry by keeping these things in mind.

Have you found a great way to befriend a missionary? Please share by clicking on "Comments." Or … are you a missionary with a suggestion for how you love to be reached out to? We would love to hear that, too. Just send that comment in English. J

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