(continued from part 1)
Focus your efforts. I have six children. As a widowed father, there are many demands on my time and attention. “Dad, Dad, DAD!” is an ongoing chorus. It is easy to give attention to the noisy ones. However, I’m striving to become more intentional with each of them. Each of them deserve it. Caring for missionaries is similar. It requires an intentional relationship.
Identify with missionaries. I am tempted to suggest that you find someone your own age or in the same life stage. However, I believe that cross-generational ministry is vital to the health of the church. Identifying with someone of a different generation will need more work. However, one missionary colleague put it like this, “Let them know we’re human. … We enjoy all the fun stuff that they might enjoy.” Another looked at the other side of the coin, “Missionaries share some of the same frustrations.” Identifying the joys and frustrations is a learning process.
“Own” their mission. Think like an investor. Shareholders pay attention to details. Do what it takes to help them get the job done. This will help to prevent “poor missionary” syndrome. This is what I call the belief that because missionaries give up typical life in Canada that somehow they are missing out on the really important stuff. Few missionaries that I’ve met want or need your pity. They do not consider themselves poor or deprived of all that Canada (or whatever country) has to offer. What they want is not the creature comforts of home. They want “supporters” who buy into their mission, and embrace the cost of making it happen.
(continued in part 3)