Many times a missionary comes to a church, sets up his display board, stands there before and after, shakes hands with many people and then leaves. And in many cases, even if the church were to support him, he is forgotten. The saying “Out of sight, Out of mind” is true. The church may eventually support him and his picture may go up on a wall, but does anyone there really know anything about him or his wife or kids? How can you pray for someone you know nothing about? How can we teach the next generation of young people that missionaries are our heroes if we show no interest in them?
I have talked to many missionary wives and I have been a missionary wife for 10 years so I know that sometimes it is awkward to go into a church where you don’t know anyone and they may not know you. There are several churches that stand out in my mind where I almost felt “bombarded” with questions and concerns about our life, but for the majority, I believe that most people just don’t know HOW to talk to a missionary.
It may seem futile to spend a few minutes talking to someone you know you aren’t going to see for another 4 years or more, but if we want to have a world vision, we must learn some things about missionaries. I have often wondered if people don’t talk to missionaries because they just don’t know what to talk about. And please don’t get me wrong – there are churches with many friendly people in them and I praise the Lord for those! This post is just to help jump-start some who don’t really have a clue as to how to talk to a missionary.
So here are 10 questions to ask the next missionary who drops in to your church! Some of these are only for veteran missionaries, but even missionaries on deputation can give you a general answer because they have studied out their country. To learn more about deputation, read my friend, Amy Coffey’s post here.
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- How did you accept the Lord as Savour and how did you decide to go to __________ (field of service)?
- How many years have you served there? Or if they are on deputation: How long have you been on deputation?
- What language do they speak in your country?/ How will you learn the language?
- How do your children adapt to the culture over there? (You may be surprised that their children have had to adapt to culture HERE, not there J) If you don’t understand what cross-cultural adaptation is, read my pastor’s blog post on Cross-cultural Adaptation
- What are some things that you can’t get in your country? We had one church actually send us a care package of peanut butter, marshmallows, dry ranch dressing mix and other goodies when they found out that we couldn’t get these things!
- What is the hardest part about the culture where you are going?
- What are your church services like there?
- What is the main religion there? How is it dealing with the people about salvation because of their beliefs?
- What are the hardest struggles you deal with on the mission field?
- Where are you going after this? Where did you come from? For some reason this question always makes me feel like they understand that we traveled maybe hundreds of miles to be at their church and that they care where we are headed to next.
And because I couldn’t cut it down to ten…. you get one more 🙂
11. What are some things I can be praying with you about? I remember one sweet lady in a church in Missouri who asked me this question and I asked her to pray that God would give me a best friend in the country where we were going. Her prayer was answered within 6 months of us being there.
I hope this can be a help when your next missionary comes to visit! I know it will be a blessing to personally know your missionaries!