by Bob and Mary Honegger
One of the advantages of supporting missionaries abroad is the expanding of our personal ministry horizons. In 1990 we first started to help with the shipment of the sea containers from the Apostolic Christian World Relief to a variety of ministries in the Caribbean, primarily Haiti and Jamaica.
Communication with the various missionaries was limited to their visits to Bluffton in the summer. There was no email, no letters, no phones, etc. We shipped items that were listed on their needs lists and hoped that they would still need them when the containers arrived three months later. We first made trips to Haiti in 1992 and have continued to travel there as needed. We slowly learned more about each country, the history, the culture, and their needs, both spiritually and materially.
Over the years we have hosted various missionaries from a variety of denominations as they were on furlough and brought supplies to Bluffton to be shipped. Additionally we have organized work teams and have served on boards that made decisions on World Relief support for missionaries and their ministries. Today, missionaries going from our various churches, have open communication lines with us through email and phones and we can learn almost immediately of their needs and concerns.
We have gained immensely from this experience and as missionary support advocates, you will also gain a heart for other cultures, a concern for the unreached throughout the world, and a world knowledge that will broaden you spiritually.
The following are some strategies for growing in this world perspective:
- Learn as much as you can about the country where your missionary is serving. This helps to understand some of the situations your missionary is encountering.
- Don’t assume our way of doing things is the best. In many situations, it probably is not. Be open to understanding differences in the cultures.
- What can we learn from those in other countries, especially those with a much lower standard of living? Maybe contentment, wisdom in using natural resources, a better appreciation of building relationships over getting a job done, to name just a few?
- Learn to be more hospitable and to be open to new experiences, whether it is trying new foods, making friends outside your normal circle of acquaintances, or just thinking (and praying) outside the box.
- Pray for the unreached in other countries. Pray for those you read about in the news.
- Learn another language. Understand how difficult this is for your missionary to converse about spiritual concepts in a second language or just adjust to living situations.
- When it is possible, visit the country where your missionary is working. Enter into their world and be a sounding board.
Your support will encourage your missionary and you personally will be blessed with a much broader appreciation for how God is working throughout the world.