Missionary Support

By MeLissa LeFleur

A question popped into my head as I was leaving a missions committee meeting at church. What if the church recognized and rewarded missionaries like America recognizes and rewards our military? Our military personnel are often given helpful benefits and rightfully so. They sacrifice a lot for our country, so we value them and give them benefits to show our appreciation and to help make their lives a little easier. What if the body of Christ did the same for our missionaries — those men, women, and kids who serve as God's army?

Most missionaries raise funds to pay their "salary" — a set amount needed to cover their expenses, as determined by their mission organization. This "support raising" is often a difficult process of presenting their work to churches, friends, family, and strangers, in hopes that their audience will pledge money and send it on a regular basis. Once the missionary has raised enough supporters, the missionary is allowed to go to the mission field. Keeping supporters is a constant struggle — people lose interest, become unemployed, and sometimes die. This leaves a void in the missionary's salary and they must live on a decreased salary until another supporter is found.

Some missionaries receive benefits from the organization in which they serve. Most often though, the missionary has to raise the support to pay for those benefits. For example, money for their health insurance and retirement is often taken from the money that is donated by supporters.

What if the church followed the military's example and provided benefits to our missionaries?

— What if we pray for our missionaries by name and with fervency like we pray for our military troops who are deployed overseas?
— What if missionaries didn't have to spend years raising their own support, but we provide it generously?
— What if each missionary could earn retirement benefits, once they put in a certain number of years?
— What if we regularly send them care packages filled with love and familiar tastes from home?
— When they come back with medical conditions and disabilities, what if we take care of their expenses?
— What if we give them discounts on groceries, movies, haircuts, and so on?
— What if we encourage them to continue their education and gave them a lower price as an incentive?
— What if we insist they take counseling if they come home with PTSD, depression, or are simply burnt out?
— What if we all show up at the airport with "Welcome Home" signs when they return to the USA?
— What if we flood social media with videos of them surprising their grandparents and friends with a surprise visit home?

It is time the church realize that missionaries are heroes too. Many of them leave their extended families and friends to travel to far-off lands. Sometimes their destinations are safe, other times they are incredibly dangerous. In some areas, children spend months away from their parents to attend a boarding school. Most missionaries have 2-4 year "deployments" and integrate into a new culture, a new language, a new world. When they come back from their "deployment," they are overwhelmed with the enormous cereal selection, technological advancements, and other things we take for granted.

I completely understand that our missionaries don't strive to be heroes. They don't serve in order to be recognized or rewarded. It is their calling — one they received from their Heavenly Father — and they serve out of love for Him. They are compelled to see the gospel of Jesus Christ reach the ends of the earth. I have the same goal and I appreciate my friends who have given up so much to see it come to pass.

I want to be more intentional about reaching out to the missionaries I know. I want respond to their monthly updates and encourage them. I want to pray fervently for them.

How can you show appreciation to a missionary today?

Image credit: NazareneMissionsInternational; Creative Commons

TagsChurch-Issues  |  Ministry-Church

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Published 3-17-14