25 November, 2014

Encouraging Friends of Missionaries

I want to encourage those of you who are in mission-minded to be advocates in your church. In our situation we have a number of churches who've tracked with us over the last 15 years. Then there are other churches that we've visited only once or perhaps twice, but had very limited relationship with. 
Being friends with a missionary is a somewhat self-less
activity, given that they'll be absent most of the time.
But it is of great encouragement to the missionaries.
It's hard to express the full depth of encouragement
the above friends have given us.

There are two things that we've noticed that usually makes a difference as to whether a church will maintain an interest in what we're doing.

1. Missions-minded pastor/minister. Without someone in leadership who has this mindset, it is unlikely that a church will maintain much missions interest.

2. Advocate with whom we have a relationship. Do not underestimate your influence as someone who knows a missionary. I know that this doesn't always work, but it can, and it can work very well. 

Just today I approached (via email) a pastor of a large church we'd previously been supported by, but their focus changed a few years ago and we'd lost contact with them. A family friend on his own volition recently talked the senior pastor about the church supporting us in prayer and it looks like we've re-established contact. This probably wouldn't have happened except for the influence of that friend.

Do not underestimate the power of relationship. We missionaries depend on local contacts. People who have relationships we don't have, and can be our advocates in the local church.

For this reason, when we're in Australia, we place a high value on catching up with friends socially. We also pray that God will give us new relationships. The need for this is especially evident after 14 years away. The older folk who were our advocates in the beginning are starting to be called Home.

This could sound like we're using our friends. That's not the case at all. We have friends who, for various reasons, are unable to connect us with their local church. But we're still their friends. We value their prayers and their friendship. Being able to come back to Australia and have people who'll still call us their friends and who'll work patiently with our busy schedule to have us over for a BBQ is a large encouragement.

So, don't undervalue your friendship with a missionary (if you have one).
1. You're friendship is an encouragement to them.
2. You might be able to be their advocate in your local church.

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