For many missionaries, the Christmas season is full of opportunities to share the gospel with people in their community. While the holidays bring many joyful activities, they can also magnify feelings of homesickness for some missionaries. TEAM, a Christian missions blog, has put together a list below of 10 unique ways to give your missionary support this Christmas.
- Add them to your Christmas card list.
As you address your Christmas cards, be sure to include the missionary families you know. This keeps them connected with your family and lets them know you are thinking about them this holiday season. TIP: Ask your missionary or their contact the best way to get cards and packages to them. While many countries can receive mail from the U.S., mail service isn’t reliable in some countries. Always be mindful of security concerns (such as words you can and can’t say in a letter or email) for countries that aren’t friendly to Christian workers.
- Involve your kids
Scott Andrews, a TEAM Missionary in Prague, writes, “Some of our friends, supporters and churches have had their kids make drawings for us and send them. They are proudly plastered to our walls and continually give us joy.”
- Reply to their newsletter
Email newsletters take time to put together but are a great way for missionaries to keep in touch. Let missionaries know you read their newsletter and appreciate the update with an email reply.
- Send a taste of home
Some familiar baking essentials aren’t easily available in other countries. Care packages with holiday goodies can help a missionary family carry on Christmas traditions in their new home, if it is possible to ship them.
- Pray for new opportunities to evangelize
More people will hear about Jesus during the Advent season than any other time of year. Many people in other countries are curious about Christmas traditions and the meaning behind the holiday. This opens the door for many evangelistic conversations. Pray for the missionaries engaging in these conversations and the people hearing them.
- Include them in your party
Christmas brings parties and events with family and friends. While you celebrate, film a simple video on your phone telling a missionary “Merry Christmas.” For those in places where Internet isn’t easily accessible, have your party-goers sign a card or a picture. Letting missionaries know they are still included in your group and not forgotten is a special way to give a missionary support.
- Let them know what you’re up to
Autumn Buzzell, who serves in Ghana with City of Refuge Ministries, says, “I love when my supporters let me know what is going on with them. It makes it a two-way relationship.” Send a note or email letting a missionary know what your family is involved in this holiday season.
- Consider the missionary kids in your community
Many missionary children come back to North America for college and find themselves without a place to go for the holidays. Consider inviting them to join your celebrations this Christmas. The holidays can be difficult when your family is a continent away, but your invitation could help missionary kids feel more at home.
- Share encouraging books and blogs
On the mission field, it can be hard to find ways to grow spiritually, especially in areas without a Christian community. If you find a great blog or book your missionary might enjoy, send it their way and pray the Lord uses it to encourage them.
- Fulfill their Christmas wish
The TEAM Wish List is a catalog of missionary-requested items that allow you to fund specific projects. From meals for orphans to sound equipment for a church plant, the Wish List includes a variety of needs in many different countries. Encourage your missionary’s work by providing for one of their project’s needs.
Having spent a year as a missionary in a third-world country, I realize the importance of keeping in touch with our missionary families during the holiday season. In the words of “Bill and Linda,” who spend part of the year in an undisclosed country and are in a foreign land for some of our most celebrated holidays, it is important to learn the customs of your host country, celebrate their holidays with them with their local traditions, and most importantly to learn and speak the language and dialect fluently. This allows them to have greater acceptance among the locals and to cross culture effectively.
As always, prayer and faithful financial support are important, as it is easy to forget about our missionaries and sponsored children during the holiday rush as we do our shopping and celebrate our traditions. For more information, go to www.TEAM.org.
Bob Woods has worked as an engineer at AECOM Technical Services and HBC Engineering, and is a published Christian author. He served as a full-time missionary in Les Cayes, Haiti for a year. He and his wife Marie, a Haitian national from Les Cayes, have served at CCFL. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.