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I came across a hard reality while on a recent mission trip to Brazil. I know the work of the missionary is hard. I understand the challenges of working with people. And to add to that the task of having to raise the funds necessary to get to the field, and the task could seem impossible. However, while in Brazil I saw another side of the work of missions that I am not sure I ever had recognized before. When a missionary is on the field long-term, which is the goal in most cases, they are often forgotten about. Back here in the States, we tend to have an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. Because it is difficult and immensely expensive for the missionary to come back to your church and visit you, it is easy to forget all about them. I am afraid this happens more than we would like to think.

After returning home, I began to think of how we can work at remedying this issue. With many missionaries leaving the field every year, I feel it is worth our effort to establish healthier relationships with those whom God calls and whom we send around the world. One of the first things we can do, and of course the most obvious thing, is faithfully supporting our missionaries with our finances. I believe this can best be done by putting our missionaries in the church budget, so they are likely to get financial assistance from home. Our practice at Shady Grove Church is to try to have fewer missionaries and support them in a greater way. This allows our church family to know whom they are supporting on a more personal level. Regardless to how your church chooses to do it, work to keep funding consistent and generous. This will encourage your missionaries.

A second part of supporting our missionaries is through prayer. Our church highlights a missionary every week and we are encouraged to pray for them all week. This is helpful. I learned while in Brazil that we need to pray specifically for them. A good way to do this is to pray for their needs (I shared an outline given in a devotion by Mrs. Annette Aycock in a sermon recently We must keep them before our eyes so we can keep them in prayer before the Lord.

A third part of supporting our missionaries is that we should be in communication with them. Though there are some exceptions, most of the missionaries can be contacted through different online means. It will encourage them to know that you are your church are thinking of them and praying for them.

I am sure that there are even more things that we can do to support our missionaries and I hope that God will help me discover these avenues. However, as the pastor of Shady Grove Church, I plan to do all I can to faithfully lead my church family to support our missionaries. These individuals have received a special calling from our God to do a special work. We must not forget about them. Let’s work together to show them love and support in the days ahead.