It was no surprise to me. As I read over the survey forms that were returned to me from missionaries all over the world, I saw a common thread that ran through most of them.
These were men and women from all walks of life and denominational backgrounds, and their ministries ran the gamut from church planting to aviation and medical missions. And yet they had one thing in common:
A sense of disconnect and loneliness.
Many expressed feeling disconnected from their home base as they still struggled to integrate into their new culture.
No longer could they simply call up a girlfriend for coffee, or a buddy to go shoot hoops. Play dates were a thing of the past.
That need for human connection goes unmet, and soon depression sets in.
To be sure, this is to be expected when one answers the call to foreign missions. I am sure that this is not a struggle unique to our generation.
What is unique is how passively connected we are to community.
You see, social media allows us to remain connected without every really connecting on an intentional basis. We can scroll through status updates and see that our missionaries ministered at a church in a small native village. We like their status, and perhaps even comment with “praying!” and feel like we’ve connected.
And when their monthly update hits our inbox or arrives in the mail, we don’t necessarily feel a need to read it thoroughly because we feel we’ve already connected.
All the while, they sense a greater need for more intentional connection because for them there is a great “connection deficit”.
I would like to share with you three reasons why you should write your missionaries.
1. When you write your missionary, you bless them. Handwritten letters are something to be treasured. But when you’re far from home, they are an even greater treasure. Even a simple note on a pretty postcard means so much. Writing and mailing a letter takes time and intention, and it says to the one who receives it that they are worth the time you’ve invested in such a simple act.
2. By writing your missionary you gain even greater understanding of their ministry. Do you want to really bless your missionary? Ask them to share with you something about the country they are serving in and the ministry they are doing. Ask specific questions. I guarantee you, they will have a lot to share and they will be so happy to share it! Asking questions says to the person that you are interested in them and want to get to know them better.
3. When you write your missionary, you partner with them in their ministry. This small and seemingly insignificant act of writing your missionary is actually a great investment. Your letters help to encourage them, and that encouragement builds strength. Your prayers are a spiritual investment in what they do. By blessing them and investing in them, you invest in their ministry.
Do you need help remembering to make this investment? Don’t be ashamed! We understand that. As a way to help remind people to remain intentionally connected, I created two free downloads.
This Missionary Prayer Card has room for addresses, dates for special occasions (such as birthdays and anniversaries) and, of course, specific prayer needs.
This Missionary Kid Pen-Pal Stationary is a colorful and fun way for your child to write a missionary kid. Sometimes we forget that the children of missionaries also struggle with deep loneliness and a need to connect with children from his or her home culture.
These downloads are free. Please feel free to download as many copies as you’d like and share them with others.
And take some time this week to pop a letter or card in the mail to your missionary – be a blessing!
Rosilind is an American girl married to a Bosnian guy who lives in a small village just outside of Zagreb. They have two crazy boys 3 and under who are as opposite as boys can be. When Rosilind isn't writing, she is dreaming up recipes and searching for ways to organize her home better. You can find her at A Little R & R where she writes about missions, marriage and family, toddler activities, and her recipes. You will also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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