Creative connections

MST church communicators help congregations stay connected to missionaries and their ministries in encouraging ways while they are on assignment. The list below will assist you in getting started. Remember – you don’t do everything yourself. You engage others!


Before departure
  • Help the missionary develop a sense of “belonging” before going overseas. It will provide encouragement during the assignment and give a feeling of security to be able to return to a group where they “belong.” This is especially true for missionary children.
  • Help the missionary set up a web log or “blogspot” if they enjoy writing and they are not in a sensitive region. Make sure they have a digital camera. Blogs are easy to set up and allow the missionary to chronicle current happenings.
  • Prepare a scrapbook of pictures and notes from family and friends and present it to the missionary at a farewell party or commissioning service.

General awareness
  • Post a world map on a church bulletin board indicating where the missionary is serving. Include prayer cards that people can take home.
  • Place the missionary’s picture on a large, decorated cardboard box and place it in different spots in the church sanctuary each Sunday as a visible reminder to the congregation. (Or get a life-size cut-out of the missionary made from a picture and place it at various spots throughout the church building each Sunday.)
  • Have the missionary make a short film or PowerPoint presentation that can be played during a service or church event.
  • Ask the missionary to make recordings of special music to be used in the church service at home.
  • Connect live by video Skype during a worship service. Ask the missionary to speak briefly, answering questions communicated ahead of time, and have “real time” prayer for the missionary.
  • Encourage adults and children in the congregation to read biographies and autobiographies of those who previously served in the missionary’s location and report what they learned.

Correspondence
See restrictions in Sensitivity Guidelines before sending!
  • General correspondence is always wonderful and welcome, but when possible, have a man correspond with another man, a woman with a woman, and children with children.
  • Post a sign-up list and have church members send a personal letter at least once a week. Email is an acceptable and faster way to communicate.
  • Covenant to write regularly, but don’t expect a busy missionary to answer every letter with a personal letter. Form letters and email newsletters are good ways for the missionary to keep you informed.
  • Write a short note if you don’t have time to write a longer letter.
  • Send laughter through the mail via humorous messages and/or musical cards.
  • Consider forming an email encouragement chain. This group of people could form a rotation so the missionary would receive encouraging emails throughout each month.
  • Pass out cards marked by date to different people to write encouragement and then compile and send to the missionary.
  • Invite congregation members to write notes, gather them in a box at church, and mail altogether to the missionary.
  • Start a letter and pass around for persons to write a few lines.
  • Provide addressed envelopes and cards to the congregation (via Sunday school classes, small groups, women’s groups, etc.) to encourage them to send letters and cards to the missionary.
  • Encourage children to draw pictures and write short notes to send to the missionary.
  • Keep missionaries up-to-date on church life. Send bulletins, photos of special events, taped sermons, business meeting notes, etc. (unless church-related materials would endanger your missionary!).
  • Write a story during the missionary’s overseas term. A family unit or small group can write one paragraph and send it to the field for the missionary to write a second paragraph. It is then returned and this continues back and forth during the whole term of the missionary.
  • Save all the letters of the missionary and give to them to read after they get home.
  • Pass an audio recorder around in a Sunday school class for those who are willing to say something.
  • Copy missionary newsletters to every mailbox in church.
  • Send photos or videos along with letters to keep the missionary updated on people.

Special occasions
  • Announce missionary birthdays and anniversaries in the congregation.
  • Send cards and letters for birthdays, wedding anniversary, Christmas, etc.
  • Encourage a card shower. Provide an extra financial gift to help the missionary be able to celebrate or purchase a special gift.
  • Remember dates that might be difficult for the missionary – holidays, anniversary of the death of a loved one, etc. – and provide cards, emails or a phone call at these times. Arrange to have flowers delivered if possible.
  • Video-record weddings, funerals, or other special events in the church.
  • Many countries, climates, and cultures are out of sync with the seasons and holidays the missionary is used to. Sending fall leaves, holiday foods, or other items to help bring missionaries a part of their past experiences can be helpful. It is also very helpful to find out how they are celebrating their holidays in another country and what things are meaningful for them in the environment in which they minister. 
  • Send a small calendar that includes birthdays and anniversaries of family and friends so the missionary can stay connected to what is happening at home.
  • Help a missionary couple to get away for a break.

Special gifts
See details in Sending Care Packages before sending!
  • Send recently published books that you have finished reading.
  • Books are often the best way for children to find entertainment and learn about their home country. Send classics, series, recent editions, and/or fun educational material.
  • Send music cds enjoyed by both adults and children.
  • Subscribe to a magazine for them or send magazines you have finished reading. Ask the children what kind of magazines they enjoy.
  • Offer to purchase and ship items by special request of the missionary for such things as: medications, computer and printer supplies, personal items, etc. Make sure to arrange with the missionary how reimbursement for costs will be made. In some countries import costs are prohibitive on such items, so it is best to send things with someone who is going to the country.
  • Shop across continents with the missionary! One missionary in Africa shared how much she loves going “shopping” with her supporter in the US. All they need is the internet and together they can browse through on-line stores and then share their comments via instant messenger. The supporter then bought her some items that she needed and knew she would like!

Visits
  • Plan to visit the missionary or send your pastor/mission team leader and family to visit. (This should always be done in consultation with the missionary so the timing is suitable.)
  • Send a short-term team to learn, build relationships, and perhaps assist with an event or project.
Most of us underestimate the impact of a visit – on the missionary, the visitors, and the sending community. Missionaries report being deeply encouraged, and the impact on the visitors and those they report to can be great as well.

[Visiting our missionary on site] was a sacrifice, but worth every penny! – L. Boll