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Missionaries love to hear from the folks back home. Whether you’re a grandparent or a child or anyone in between, your missionaries love to hear from you.
Our family has gotten some hilarious letters and also some wonderful letters we read over and over again. We’ve also received a few that are, well, frankly, pretty dumb. (Not that we weren’t thankful even for those!) I’m writing this post so that you can write great letters to missionaries, the kind they’ll want to read more than once.
By the way, it’s absolutely fine to e-mail. (It makes it super easy for missionaries to reply.) Most missionaries check their e-mails daily, too. You can find the missionary’s e-mail address on his prayer card and newsletters.
Do you wonder what to say when you write your church’s missionaries? Here are some tips for writing perhaps the most wonderful letter your missionary will get this week. Take these steps, one by one, and I promise it will make someone’s day:
- Introduce yourself. Tell us your name, your church or school, what city and state it’s located in, and then . . . something personal about yourself. Are you nine years old? Are you in the eighth grade? Are you a college student? Do you have three children and a dog? Are you a grandma or grandpa? Tell us something that says who you are. Attach a photo, if you like.
- Share your day. “I’m sitting beside a fire in the fireplace with a cup of cocoa in one hand.” “I just came in from the garden. We’ve planted corn, green beans, tomatoes, and squash this year. I brought a bucket of yellow squash in for my wife to freeze. It’s a good harvest, and we’re grateful.” “Back from a trip to Walmart with three kids in tow. It was an adventure! The littlest one (two years old) got behind, and I heard him wailing loudly. I was only in the next aisle, but the whole store heard him!” Whatever is going on in your life is great. We love to hear your stories.
- Be aware of where we serve and something about us. At the very least, read our last prayer letter. We get amused when we get questions about the ages of our children. (There’s a picture of us on our prayer letter. We have natural gray in our hair.) Let us know you know what country we’re in and something about our ministry.
- Let us know you’re praying for us. We love it when someone says, “We’re praying for (specific name), that God would comfort her heart in the loss of her husband.” “I am praying for (names) to know the Lord as Savior.” “We pray for your safety.” Your missionaries need this partnership in prayer. Their work is your work. We are an extension of your local church. When you pray for missionaries’ church people and contacts, you are asking God to bless the work that you’ve invested in.
- Ask questions. (More on this later.)
- Close with a sweet sentiment or with a Bible verse that has blessed your heart. (If writing a snail mail letter, make sure you include a sending address or an e-mail address, so your missionary can write you back.)
Do not ask:
- “Do you like (field country)?” The new missionary is trying to adjust to different ways of doing everything. You can’t imagine all the adjustments! Culture, language, the “personality” of the people, how to bargain . . . . So many things to assimilate! Your new missionary might not yet like his mission field. The veteran missionary feels at home in his field country. He might not like it exactly, but he is content, because it’s where he’s lived, worked, and poured out his life in ministry. He’s there because God called him there. He doesn’t have to like the country, but he loves the people and desires to point them to Jesus.
- Facts about the country, such as: population, language, religion, location, etc. If you’re writing a school paper or want to know these things out of curiosity, Google them. You’ll find encyclopedia websites especially helpful. (Don’t ask your missionary to do the research for you.)
- "What’s the very worst thing you’ve had to go through?" Trust me, they don’t want to tell you.
Questions missionaries love to answer:
- Anything about the ministry—Ask about the receptiveness of the people, about the obstacles and blessings, about how you can pray specifically. Ask what kinds of ministries they have (children’s, teens, addicts, Bible institute, Christian school, adults, English as a second language, etc.). Ask about the best ways to reach people on their fields.
- Favorite things—Ask about their favorite strange foods on the field and their favorite places to visit. You’ll find out that grasshoppers really are food and much more.
- Ask your missionaries about their needs. Maybe you could supply something from their home country that they can’t get on the field. Do they have any ministry projects? (For example, a women’s church group provided us with beads and leather cord for making Wordless Book bracelets. I used them with a children's class and a women’s outreach. It was easy to use them together with a gospel presentation. The people loved them!)
- Ask about personal prayer requests. Your missionary might have a health issue, a child who’s struggling in school, or a specific challenge on the field. Ask if you can pray for them, personally. (Then, pray!)
If your missionary answers questions, sends special photos, or replies to your letter, please at least e-mail a thank you. A simple acknowledgment goes a long way. (I’ve actually spent hours helping young people on their school projects and never gotten so much as a thank you. We once made a ministry video—borrowing a camera—and then we had to ask if the person had received it.) "Thank you” is sufficient.
Just to mention one other way you can stay in touch with your missionaries: look for them on social media. Many missionaries are on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and other platforms. Find out (ask) if they write blogs. Follow your missionary as you would a friend. (Your missionaries want to be your friends!) When “friending” on social media, write a personal message explaining who you are. (See “Introduce yourself,” above.)
Missionaries are delighted to hear from home. They’re encouraged that someone would write to them. They love to connect with people in their supporting churches.
Write a missionary today!