If you aren’t called to the mission field, you can still do much to help missionaries who are called. I often remark that I disdain comments from missionaries like “stay by the stuff,” 1 Sam 30:24, and “hold the rope,” Acts 9:25. We’re not sitting around in our churches with nothing to do but look after the stuff and hold the rope for missionaries who are doing “all” the work. We’ve got plenty to do. However, those remarks are well-intended. Missionaries really do appreciate the help of the brethren back home. So, here are some tangible things that you can do for missions. Here’s what you do for missions. You can:
Pray – 2 Cor 1:8-11 “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” Paul wrote that he and his companions encountered trouble in Asia and that they “were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that (they) despaired even of life.” Paul attributed their deliverance, not only to God, but, to the help of the Corinthians by prayer for them. In Phil 1:19, when Paul was imprisoned, he wrote, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer…”. He valued the prayers of the saints for his deliverance and “salvation” from bonds. In Rom 15:30-31, Paul wrote “that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea…”. In missions, many of us underestimate the value of and need for prayer for the protection, safety, and work of our missionaries.
Our prayers are essential to their success. Everyone in the church can participate. We should want to be so responsive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are prompted to pray at times when special needs arise. The Holy Spirit intercedes and we can be led to intercede, as well, if we are praying earnestly and fervently for our missionaries each day.
Give – Lk 6:38 “shall men give into your bosom.” Lk 6:38 is one of the texts often quoted to show that God will give to us as we give to others. However, notice that God uses men to give to men. In other words, when missionaries have financial needs, God supplies those needs through other men. The best way, I believe, is for men to give through their local church and the church to give to the missionaries. In Phil 4:10-18, Paul wrote to the Philippians, “ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Heb 13:16 says about giving, “for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
God directs each church how best to give. In our church, we consider the needs of missionaries at the Wednesday night prayer meeting. The church decides what to give to meet those needs. It’s a blessing to hear the responses from missionaries who testify of particular needs that are met by these special gifts. We should look for opportunities to give.
Help – Phil 2:25-30 Paul wrote about Epaphroditus, “he that ministered to my wants… for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” In 2 Tim 1:16-18 Paul wrote about Onesiphorus, “he oft refreshed me… and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.” These are two men who blessed Paul with special help that they were each capable of supplying.
There are many things you can do to be a special help to missionaries. You can service their vehicle, work on a construction project for them, provide for a medical need, send supplies, etc. In 2 Tim 4:13, Paul asked Timothy bring his cloke, books and parchments. You can provide a place to stay and extend hospitality. Paul asked Philemon to prepare him a lodging, Phile 22; Gaius was Paul’s host in Corinth, Rom 16:23; Peter lodged with Simon a tanner in Joppa, Acts 10:5-6, and the woman of Shunem provided regular lodging for Elisha and Gehazi, 2 Ki 4:8-10.
Jeff Williams, missionary to New Zealand, said that women have helped his wife by communicating with her. And though he didn’t mention it, while discussing things we can do to help missionaries, sending gifts to their children was a blessing, as well. Befriending a missionary’s family and communicating with them while they are on the field certainly encourages them.
Conclusion: these are three very practical things we can do to help missionaries. We can pray, we can give, and we can help.