Although I've supported missions most of my life, I really didn't fully grasp the sacrifice that missionaries – and their families – make until my daughter became a missionary in South Africa. Thanks to such technology as email, Skype and Facebook, the loneliness and isolation of foreign service is somewhat lessened these days, but the reality is that missionaries miss their family members, their friends and their homeland. They sacrifice much to serve the Lord overseas.
Missionaries also have to contend with the general busyness of life and the "out-of-sight-out-of-mind" reality. Few people, even friends and family, reach out on a regular basis, letting them know that they love and support them. Holidays can be particularly challenging.
Jesus' Acts 1:8 mandate instructs His followers to be witnesses "even to the ends of the world." While foreign missionaries are busy witnessing around the globe, they need to know that there's a team back home supporting, encouraging and praying for them, even if they are out of sight. Thus you can help be a witness "to the ends of the world" by caring for missionaries overseas.
Most of us know at least one missionary who serves abroad. But how often do we connect with him or her? Even if it's just a once-a-month email, take a few minutes to connect with one of God's servants overseas. You'll be glad you did.
Maybe your encouragement is just the thing a missionary needs to make a difference in a far-flung land. Especially during the holiday season, your love, prayers and financial support can really boost the spirits of those so far away. Here are a few ideas to reach out to missionaries/"to the ends of the earth":
- Make a year-end donation. Not only is it a great tax break, it's a tangible symbol of your love and affirmation.
- Send a Christmas email, gift certificate (from iTunes, Amazon, etc.) or care package.
- If appropriate, offer to become a marriage mentor or begin a Bible study with them via Skype.
- Become a prayer partner and let them know you're praying for them regularly.
- Email them at least once a month, just to let them know you're thinking of them.
- Send e-cards to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions. Some missionaries have very few folks around them to celebrate special events; be one of those few.
- As an extra way to touch the world during the holidays, participate in Operation Christmas Child. You can buy a pig or goat for a needy family through SamaritansPurse.org.