It was 1992, after only two years on the field, and we were back home. At least in the minds of our fellow Americans. “But this isn’t home for us; we’re going back,” brought looks that clearly asked, “Haven’t you had enough?” We’d left full of big dreams and great plans. But finance trickled in, and we struggled to put food on the table.
An unsettled debt hanging over our heads didn’t help, taking a good chunk of that already small pie. So we decided to temporarily move back to the USA, where everyone greeted us with, “Welcome home!” And though we were happy to see friends and family again, it wasn’t home. God had transplanted our hearts.
It became a trying time, stretched into 1½ years because of Mario’s nearly fatal chainsaw accident. Until a guest speaker came to share on his ministry: Barnabas Ministry. And their purpose of lifting up the weary hands struck a chord with us.
Many missionaries face discouragement, feeling they have no one to turn to. This is more true than most of us imagine, and we thank God for the Barnabas ministries out there. But one statement made, in particular, stuck in our minds.
We expect to see great works on nickel and dime offerings.
Missionaries are often asked, “Is that all you’ve accomplished?” And even if never voiced, the question often hangs in the air. Leaving the missionary discouraged, and feeling like a failure. Even though many struggle to barely pay the rent and meet expenses.
Yet they’re expected to do great things and build up great works on nickel and dime offerings. It’s a sad, but often true, missionary reality. But great works like the Swiss-supported conference center/campground in the following photo cannot come about on little money! So this post is a wake-up call.
But this is also a call to ministry: start your own Barnabas Ministry!
Encourage your missionaries.
Encourage those you know, or that your church supports. If you don’t know any, or your church doesn’t support any, talk to your pastor about getting involved in this needy area.
Pray for your missionaries.
Prayer really belongs at the top of the list, because it is the greatest need. Both for the missionaries, and for the people they’re trying to reach. Pray for their needs. Pray for the people they ask you to pray for. And pray for the doors that they need to see opened.
Stay in touch.
Write to them. Call them. Even send them (and especially their kids) thoughtful little things. Even little things like bookmarks can brighten the day! And with all our technology, this has gotten easier than ever, right??
If they have a blog, follow it. And let them know you do by leaving comments, or interacting in some way! How can you pray effectively for missionaries, if you don’t know what’s going on?
Be their lifeline of fellowship.
Many missionaries live and work in isolated areas, or in cultures where making friends is difficult. They have little or no fellowship. Even notes or Scripture verses show you’re thinking and praying for them. It helps a lot!
Help their kids.
Missionary kids give up a lot for their parents’ choice. Far from friends and family. And it’s harder to make friends across language and culture barriers. Dollar store goodies stuffed in a padded envelope show that them others remember and care!
Show real interest in their work.
Find out what’s going on. What they’d like to do, and see happen. Learn of their struggles, their fears, their burdens.
Share about your life, especially the homey everyday things.
We care about the folks back home, and it’s hard being apart. We want to know how you are, and what’s going on. And how to pray for you, or best encourage you!
And keep things encouraging.
Keep in mind that your missionaries may work in poverty stricken areas, where people often live in desperate conditions. Or the missionaries themselves may also go without necessities due to tight budgets.
It’s really not that hard to lift up the weary hands. But communication is key!
And we’ve found that in uplifting others, we become encouraged too!