Tips for the care and feeding of your domestic missionary
Besides providing him and his family with much-needed prayers and financial support, there are many ways you can be a greater encouragement to him and be involved with his work.
With proper feeding and care, you and your missionary can enjoy many happy years together.
For more than a decade, the most wonderful churches in five states throughout the Bible Belt have supported my difficult work in beautiful upstate New York. They have praised my efforts and have treated me and my family like royalty when we visit. My supporters have been generous and loving, and I, in turn, have reciprocated their kindness with faithful service to the Gospel.
But perhaps your situation is less than amiable. You are a supporter who wonders week to week if becoming involved with a particular work was good stewardship, or you are a neglected stateside missionary whose only attention received is a monthly check or suspicious inquiries into every aspect of your ministry.
Regular and honest communication with your supporters is key to maintaining a good relationship with those who support you. Really, in a struggling economy, who wants a group of elders or mission committee members scratching their heads and saying, “When’s the last time we heard from that guy in ______ ?”
For supporters, here are some tips for getting the most from your relationship with your stateside missionary:
• Communicate with him. Just because you know what is happening in your missionary’s work doesn’t mean he knows what is happening at the supporting church.
At the very least, make sure that your missionary is on your mailing list for your directory and weekly bulletin and that your missionary’s contact information is in them.
Encourage your congregation to write or call. Assign someone with an interest in missions to make a biweekly or monthly phone call to him.
Keep the calls positive and helpful so that he looks forward to them and learns to relax, open up and trust the caller.
Invite members of your supporting church to join the missionary’s Facebook group. This will keep everyone informed of the challenges and joys of that particular work so that they won’t shrug their shoulders when they hear of him visiting next Wednesday to speak and mutter, “Who?”
• Know that your culture is different from where your missionary works. People of different geographic areas think differently. It’s not just “y’all” and “you guys.” Remember that your stateside missionary is your man on the ground for knowing how to present the Gospel to that particular area. We all know the benefit of native preachers in international mission efforts. The same is true for stateside missions.
Believing that, just because the work is in the United States, the culture is the same, has led to frustrated supporters whose missionary won’t implement an evangelistic technique that worked in the South.
Realize that the issues at home aren’t the issues where your missionary works. Yes, your stateside missionary is aware that instrumental music and women’s role in the church are big topics of debate where there is a 700-member congregation on every corner.
He probably gets brotherhood publications mailed to him and, frankly, is glad he lives well away from those controversies.
I remember one eldership being surprised at my answer of “We’re against sin” when asked what the issues were in Plattsburgh. But it was true.
Being the only Church of Christ (that we’re aware of) for three counties, what do Christians here know of the differences in translations or the dangers of secularization? All my efforts are in getting folks out of the world and then keeping the world out of them.
• Remember that you and your stateside missionary are part of the same team. Paul and Barnabas were sent from Antioch to do the Lord’s work and returned to report on “all that God had done through them.”
Your missionary should never be made to feel that he is on trial or that he must be interrogated to know where he stands on every issue.
From your regular communication, you should already have a measure of the man, his teaching and the work you are supporting, and these times of reporting should be a joyous celebration of what you and your missionary are able to accomplish together for the Lord.
• Above all, encourage your stateside missionary. He labors in a difficult and very lonely work, often without elders or even strong and supportive brethren who can understand his burden.
In binders along with every mission report that I have ever sent out, I have every card and letter sent to me in my 12-plus years of ministry.
Most precious are those from an elderly brother in Tennessee who has since gone on to be with the Lord and those crayon scribbles with misspelled names from an Alabama nursery class learning about missionaries.
Not only does your stateside missionary need you, but you need him to help you fulfill Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
This is best accomplished if all work together for the Lord.
DOUGLAS KASHOREK ministers for the Plattsburgh, N.Y., Church of Christ. He also writes Christian novels. Contact him at www.douglaskashorek.com.
FeedbackAs a former domestic missionary and wife (and kids) in upstate NY, my hubby and I thought Douglas Kashorek’s article was excellent. Great tips for those supporting domestic missionaries from a guy who really knows! Thanks, Douglas!!Julie and Kelly ElanderDowntownSearcy, AR
USAApril, 12 2011