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? 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 learn from the help Paul needed to show us some ways to care for our missionaries.
- 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 respond to.
- Care for their emotional needs.
Paul gave us a glimpse into some of his emotional needs in his second letter to the church at Corinth
II Corinthians 7:5
For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
There are times in ministry when problems seem to be everywhere. Externally he faced constant turmoil and inside were fears. The fears were not for Paul himself, but for the churches. There was so much going on that he had no rest at all. We need to be ready to respond to our missionaries in times of emotional stress.
II Corinthians 7:6
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;
Comfort means to encourage by words or the presence of a person who can help in time of need. When Paul was discouraged God brought good news through Titus. We can look for ways to encourage our missionaries, especially when we know they are discouraged.
- Refreshed Spirit
I Corinthians 16:17-18
17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. 18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
Refresh means to rest or be revived. Exactly what Paul’s friends did for Paul, other than their presence, is not clear, but whatever it was it refreshed him. Paul expressed how important the refreshment brought by his friends was by saying that people who brought refreshment are to be appreciated and honored. Our missionaries will appreciate and honor us when we refresh them.
- 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 he longed for the companionship of his friends. One of the biggest loses 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 and create some time for them to with family and friends when they are home.
- Care for their spiritual needs.
- Books and Parchments.
In II Timothy 4:13 Paul asked Timothy to bring books and parchments. We don’t know exactly what the books and parchments were but it is obvious that Paul was not finished reading, studying and writing. Ministry requires personal reading and study of the scripture and the resources to study the Word or preaching and teaching. We can help meet our missionaries’ spiritual needs by encouraging them to be in the Word for their own relationship with the Lord and by providing them good study aids for preaching and teaching preparation.
Just as we encourage our missionaries to study the Word we can encourage our missionaries to pray.
Once we begin to think of our missionaries needing our care more and more ways to care for them will come to mind. They are no different than we are. They have happy times and difficult times. They have physical problems and family problems. They have times of victory and defeat. God wants to use us to help our missionaries stay on the field and accomplish the ministry He has called them to. What a great privilege to be a part of that.