How to Keep your Missionaries Healthy and Happy

Do you really want to know the answer to this question?

Okay, here we go! First, find out what they need, what are their health issues, and ask what are their limitations. Now I am not only referring to dietary needs. I am speaking of spiritual and emotional needs. Add to those their family needs and their financial needs, and you will have a full course meal…of ways to encourage your missionaries.

Now don’t get me wrong, no missionary expects you to meet all those needs! You can just take a stab at one on them or perhaps two, and you will see a grateful response. And when he or she senses that you are genuinely interested in their well being, that alone will make all the difference in the world.

Second , after becoming intelligently informed about their needs, move toward a closer step of involvement. Ask him or her something like “what are your concerns about the future, or about your family or your ministry?” The question may provide some great conversation, and that is a time where you can listen, observe, probe if necessary and especially uplift. Some of our missionary colleagues have confided in us, upon returning to Chile after a furlough, that no one really stopped to listen, or to open the topics of heart-felt concern in their lives. Most church-goers were content to let the conversation stay on the superficial level. They missed the chance to provide care and encouragement to a person who really needed it.

Third, a missionary’s spiritual, emotional and family health depend on relationships in their country of service. Therefore, to encourage and to build up a missionary, ask how close he or she is with his or her fellow colleagues. Ask something like, “what do you do for fun with your missionary team?” Or ask, “what would be a favorite memory of time spent with your mission team?”

Ask things like “do you and you children have regular time to relax, play, learn and worship together?” The pressures of life in another country (like travel in a large city which can absorb large amounts of time and energy) coupled with the burden of needs and struggles of those they are discipling wears on emotions and spirit. This is why it is crucial for a family, a husband and wife and single missionaries to set aside regular time to renew themselves.

Missionaries and friends

Visiting Work Team from Cherry Hill, NJ, out to see the Andes Mountains

Several years ago our Chile team went on a prayer and planning retreat. This was a special event, because it was for men only and it had been about 3 years since the last retreat. Although focused on the need to discuss long term plans and priorities as a team, the meal time, prepared by fellow missionaries, and the evenings sat talking together, rendered some really hilarious and relaxing interaction. To some of the men, these kinds of trips are tedious and unpleasant. But after three days together, about 8 meals, some late night conversations and fun, everyone could see the tremendous value to such an event. Even the most skeptical were expressing gratitude for the retreat because it had deepened our friendships one with another.

Seek to Understand their Unique needs

For our family the past year (2020) demanded we learn to live kind of like under “house arrest.” A missionary we serve with compared it to being in solitary confinement, since her apartment is located a few miles away from any other of her teammates. The reason? The world wide pandemic called COVID-19. While an uncommon situation, these circumstances left her feeling lonely, exhausted and frustrated.

Such needs can be found in many mission contexts around the globe. As with an illness, a sense of isolation can creep in, leaving the missionary vulnerable to deep unmet needs. After all, missionaries are supposed to be strong and self-reliant, right!?

Wrong! Keep in mind that your missionary may be treading water, emotionally, because they lack an adequate support team, they may not know how or to whom they can express their needs.

Find out the Needs First, then Offer Encouragement

Another matter to consider is the needs of their children. This is where expectations and unrealized plans of a teen or adult child comes into play. For many, the transition to college, following high school graduation, is when they feel a huge amount of uncertainty and fear. The teen wants to stretch their wings, wants to become independent, but the costs, the logistics and the unknown circumstances once he or she arrives in their country of study can be overwhelming!

This is a time for the home church, friend and supporters to reach out, to lend a hand (in matters such as helping the teen get their driver’s license, or in getting accustomed to banking practices) can make a huge difference! Our family has been ministered to in huge ways by friends from our home church who did things like take our oldest daughter out to practice driving, or who made room for them to rent a room while at college and others who had the space and resources to let them live in their home for the summer. These are major transitional moments when the missionary family truly needs assistance and such timely helps really make a massive difference.

There are many other needs, situations, concerns or challenges a missionary faces as they advance through the years of ministry. Your missionaries will probably enjoy a more fruitful life of service if they sense the concern and involvement of others in their stages of life. As our Regional Director often says to our mission team, learning to “paraklete” or come to the aid of one another is what God has called us to as His servants worldwide.

David L. Rogers, M.A. Min.

Santiago, Chile

About David Rogers, Magister en Artes

Este blog nace de una profunda gratitud al Autor de la vida, al eterno "YO Soy," quien me dio todo lo que tengo y lo que soy. Sin El, nada sería. Pero como no todos en el mundo han llegado a conocerle, también procuro dar una razón por la fe que tengo. Es una razón no basada en emociones ni en la intuición o el esperar algo mejor. Sino la razón está fundamenta en la verdad eterna, que no es incambiable y que es defensible, la verdad de Dios, el Creador y Sustentador de este mundo. ** Para los que se dedican a las credenciales, aquí están las de este autor, profesor, y misionero: 35 años viviendo en un país adoptivo, 39 años esposo de una misma dama, padre de 4 hijos destacados, abuelo de 4 tiernos nietos, amigo y compañero de colaboradores que han visto mis fallas y aun me llaman su amigo. ENGLISH: This blog is born of deep gratitude to the Author of life, to the eternal "I Am," who gave me everything I have and what I am. Without Him, nothing would be. But as not everyone in the world has come to know him, I also try to give a reason for the faith I have. It is a reason not based on emotions or intuition or expecting something better. But the reason is based on the eternal truth, which is not unchanging and is defensible, the truth of God, the Creator and Sustainer of this world.   ** For those who are dedicated to credentials, here are those of this author, profesor, and missionary: 35 years living in an adoptive country, 39 years husband of the same lady, father of 4 outstanding children, grandfather of 4 sweet grandchildren, friend and partner of collaborators who have seen my failures and still call me their friend.
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1 Response to How to Keep your Missionaries Healthy and Happy

  1. Pingback: Praying for Missionaries, Caring for Missionaries – and some Tourism! – Missionary Blog Watch

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