This month’s Resource Corner looks at how to best keep in touch with workers overseas. We figured the best way to answer this question would be to ask one of our tranzsend workers. Lynley Capon, with her husband, Peter, works with tranzsend in Kalasin, Thailand.
When a single person or a couple from your church head to work in Christian service overseas, how can you best support them?
To begin with, you may need to lose a few misconceptions that you may have about missionaries. For example: Missionaries are more special than regular people – not true! Missionaries are super spiritual – not true! Missionaries are right out of my league – not true!
It’s important to understand the only distinction between a missionary and a regular church member is location. As Christ-followers we’re all called to make disciples wherever we’re living.
Overseas workers are not super spiritual. They are regular people who struggle with all the issues of life that you do. However, life can often be tough for overseas workers as they deal with matters such as:
- loneliness, particularly if they’re single
- separation from their wider family
- learning a new language
- heat and humidity
- spiritual oppression living in countries resistant to the good news of Jesus
So put yourself in their shoes: a strange environment, surrounded by strange languages and religions, separated from family and everything familiar, working in temperatures that are often extreme when compared to New Zealand. If you were in this position, what would you like to receive in the way of encouragement and contact?
Peter and I have been blessed by many different kinds of communication. All have encouraged us. Maybe this list of suggestions will help you and your church to keep better touch with your overseas workers.
• Use Skype. We’ve enjoyed being part of services from our home church, both sharing and listening via Skype. Book in times when you connect overseas workers with home groups too.
• Send emails. Regular news from home is fantastic.
• Share your matters for prayer as well as praying for overseas folk. This helps us feel part of your work at home too, just as you are part of our work overseas.
• Send cards, letters and drawings done by young people from 4 to 14 years old. It’s great to hear from the young ones and for them to hear from us in return. This is a way of building a foundation of interest in overseas work.
• Acknowledge birthdays either by email or cards sent by snail mail.
• Funnies of all kinds are welcome too. It’s something we sometimes miss because it can be difficult to make or understand jokes in a foreign language.
• Most of all – be proactive! Decide to do something and stick at it so that you and your missionaries become friends.
Take the challenge. We’re very fortunate to live in an age of quick and easy communication. Embrace modern technology. Get onto your computer and get in touch with your missionaries overseas. Then keep in touch using some of these ideas.
And, if you don’t have a computer, we love getting mail the old-fashioned way too.