Serving as Senders
How to care for your missionaries.
- While they are preparing to go.
- While they are on the field.
- When they return home.
"In secular war, for every one person on the battle front,
there are nine others backing him up in what is called
the 'line of communication.'"
For every one missionary (or missionary family) sent to the field
there should be six support personnel assigned to them.
- Moral Support: Just "being
- Logistics Support: All the
bits and pieces.
- Financial Support: Money.
- Prayer Support: Spiritual
- Communication Support: Letters,
Tapes, and More.
- Re-entry Support: More than
God has called us to reach the world.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes
on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (NIV)
But he has not called all of us to go beyond Samaria
to the ends of the earth. Most of us are called to Jerusalem (our
neighborhoods), Samaria (local but different cultures) , and to
be senders of those who God has called to the ends of the
What is the job of a sender? Their job is to support the missionary
in the above six areas during the life cycle of the missionary.
We should never send our missionaries out with just a pat on the
back, a financial gift, and a "Look us up when you get
home!" on your lips, forgetting about them till you hear
they are returning. This would be a recipe for disaster.
The Missionary life cycle.
A: Normal living
Life before the call.
B: Anticipation of approval
The call of God is heard and obeyed. Contact is made with the
local church, and missions board.
C: Anticipation of departure
The call of God is confirmed by the local church and mission board.
It has been confirmed that the missionary is really going.
Training is completed.
D: Honeymoon period
Every thing is new, quaint, and wonderful! Emotions are flying
10 feet above their airplane.
E: Culture stress
Reality sets in. One morning the missionary rudely wakes up to
the reality that he has committed himself to circumstances that
are no longer quaint; they are weird, even barbaric.
Most missionaries wont talk about this stage because the people
back home won't think them "spiritual enough" if they
admit to some of these trying times. This is a time that they
need your support. Anticipate it and get them to talk about it.
F: Ministry of love
The missionary has been trained to anticipate this culture shock
and will "Go through it" and emerge into a time
of fruitful ministry. Because of your support he will emerge with
a strengthened vision of God's purpose.
G: Anticipation of return
Life goes on. It's now time to return. The missionaries feelings
are mixed. He has made new friends. He has new ideas and ideals.
He has changed! You have changed! Life will NOT
be the same when he returns home.
H: Culture stress in reverse
The trauma to the missionaries entire being during re-entry is
intense. Depression, unemployment, a sense of being lost or useless
is often experienced. This is the time the missionary needs you
the most. If you want your missionary to survive to serve again
you must be there for them. With good support, the long term missionary
can recover and become fruitful in six months. Without your support
you may find him with his life in shambles.
I: Full integration
A missionary who has been trained to anticipate the stress of
coming home and has a strong re-entry support team will,
in time, fully integrate his changed self into the changed home
Prayerfully consider serving as a sender in one or more of
the six areas of support;
- "Be there for them."
- Be a active listener.
- Commission them! Publicly! Paul in Acts 13 was Called, Counseled,
and then Commissioned.
- Maintain accountability.
- Confirm Spiritual growth. Before, during and after the trip.
- Managing business affairs.
- Death of a family member
- Attending to personal details.
- Material goods left behind.
- Family matters, will etc
- Ministry needs and equipment.
- Bank account management.
- Prayer teams
- Pray during services
- Spiritual warfare
- Ham radio
- Care Packages
- Short term mission team visit
The returning missionary will face many challenges.
- Professionally - Jobs may be hard to find. His sense
of ministry belonging will be a little disoriented. The "Big
fish in the little pond" is now overwhelmed with "the
little fish in a very Big pond ."
- Materially - Coming back from a third world country
to western countries can be overwhelming! Your missionary can
find himself overwhelmed just shopping at the supermarket. This
may sound funny but it's very real the them.
- Culturally - New beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors
become a part of your returning worker. Changing from a slower
Event oriented rather than Time oriented cultures
will cause stress. They will be shocked to find out that some
people just are not interested in their experiences. I have met
some returning missionaries who cried for three months strait
and didn't know why.
- Socially - Life goes on. Things will never be the same
at home again. This is good, but can be very uncomfortable. For
you and them. If there was poor communication support at home
the returning missionary might be greeted at the door with "Hi
Sally! How was your vacation?". If their home church is large
they may not recognize anyone.
- Politically - The highways were 55 when he left, rode
a bike for the next three years and then he returns to 70 mph!
Having to see the other side of American foreign policy might
change your missionaries outlook on his home country.
- Educationally - The kids might have a hard time adapting
to the schools at home.
- Spiritually - He was in the thick of the battle over
there and now he fights off sleeping in the pew. Church picnics
just don't do any thing for him. This is where a home fellowship
group is very important. Keep in close spiritual contact them.
Keep them active in discipleing others.
Re-entry Behavior patterns:
- Alienation - Don't let them withdraw.
- Condemnation - Make them feel loved and appreciated.
Make time for them.
- Reversion - Trying to start right where he left off
in Christian service is not going to work. Help him ease into
- Escape - The whirlwind of emotions leaves him broken.
He backs out of life - spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
You need to listen to him. Make him feel like there is a core
group that really cares.
- Integration - Helping them integrate takes place on
- Meet them at the airport.
- Have a place for them to stay.
- Have a immediate means of transportation for them.
- Provide meals the first few days.
- Take them Shopping.
- Medical checkups if needed.
- Potluck debriefing to let them talk.
- Long Range
- Be proactive in getting them to share their experiences. Men's
and woman's groups, Sunday school, etc.
- Go slowly with getting them involved in Christian work. But
do get them involved.
- Find them a Job.