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Caring for Missionaries

Have you ever had missionaries visit your church and wanted to care for them in some way, but didn't know how to do that? Missionary Paul Schlehlein (South Africa) has written a blog post entitled "Seven Ways Churches Can Care for Visiting Missionaries." Read the entire blog post here. If you want a taste of Paul's perspective, below is a summary:

1. Spend Lots of Time with Them.

Acts 14:27-28 speaks about the lengthy time the church of Acts spend with Paul the missionary after he returned from his first missionary journey. It is rare to find churches that are concerned about the nations. One way the church can show they are interested is by spending “not a little time” with the missionaries. Read the full blog post to discover 5 ways to spend time with missionaries.

2. Ask Deliberate Questions

This could be in a Q & A at church. Or it may be in more informal settings like a cookout or a game of hoops. See some examples here.

3. Provide Speaking Engagements

Get the missionaries involved in your church. This may be through music, cooking, visits, or a particular skill they have. Ask them: “Are there some ways you would like to use your spiritual gifts to bless our church during your stay?” Paul also discusses the importance of inviting the missionary to preach in the church's pulpit. It's a great opportunity to be challenged from God's Word and to evaluate the missionary's giftedness for ministry.

4. Get the Kids Involved

Churches should take special care with the missionary children. MKs often feel left out. They’re not simply “weird MKs.” They’re just in a new place surrounded by new customs. Plan outlets for the children to learn and see and experience their home culture. Let them be kids. Some children may know very little English depending on their field. Love them and show them grace.

5. Consider Practical & Business Matters

Some missionaries are so dedicated, they’re not thinking about important business matters back home. They may even feel guilty about saving money. After all, churches are giving money to see schools built and souls saved, not college tuition. In his blog, Paul discusses how churches can help missionaries with financial (preparing for retirement) and practical (housing & vehicles) matters.

6. Don't Forget to Counsel

Should churches listen to the missionary’s stories and give them time to unwind and be honest? Yes. But churches should also speak truth to them. They should counsel wisely about what they see. This may be affirmation or rebuke. With the former, it may look like this: “Jim, I know the fruit may be small out there in Japan, but I can see your hard work and gifting in language translation. Keep it up!” With the latter, it may look like this: “Tom, I have a couple concerns about the books you’ve been reading. Moreover, I’ve noticed your children are fearful and often rebellious toward your authority. Could we please talk about this?”

7. Labor to Improve Future Communication

Some of the problems on the mission field could be fixed simply by better communication with their churches back home. This is easier now than it has ever been. Read the full blog to get some practical and creative ways to stay in touch with your missionaries.

Paul & Melinda Schlehlein and their 8 children are making disciples and planting churches among the Tsonga people of South Africa.

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