Welcome to the 31 Days of Global Missions with Kids series! You can view all the posts in the series here. Please remember that the goal isn’t for you to do ALL these projects, but rather pick one or two. You can download a printable worksheet here to guide you through discerning which project is best for you and the young people in your life.
Today we’ll be talking about how to financially support Christian missionaries. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about other ways to help missionaries, like praying, sending letters and care packages, and encouraging them.
It feels a little funny to talk a lot about how we shouldn’t put overseas missionaries on a pedestal and how you don’t need to be a missionary to do global missions… and then tell you to go support a missionary! 😉
But, I still believe it is important to support missionaries – though I’ll confess I’m biased since I am a “missionary” myself! (Our family lives in Southern California right now as we handle some medical treatment for our daughter, but we currently work for a missions organization and plan to move overseas as soon as she is done with her treatment.)
As a “missionary,” I want to share with you first-hand what a tremendous blessing it is to receive financial support from a wonderful team of family members, friends, churches, and even some strangers.
Every month we take a day to write thank yous, look at financial gifts from the past month, and communicate with our ministry partners, and seriously, that day is always emotional for me because I am so moved by the sacrificial and kind partnership of these people.
It is such a joy and a true blessing to partner in ministry and know we’re not doing this alone. (And if you’re one of our ministry partners and you’re reading this post – thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Why Support a Christian Missionary?
Missionaries need your support.
You may not be aware that most overseas missionaries raise their own support through personal connections with friends and family members.
While a few missionaries are funded solely through other means (like their individual congregation, denomination, or direct donations to their organization), the vast majority have to do support-raising (often called “deputation”) prior to departing for the mission field.
Missionary support provides a great connection for your family to global missions.
Most missionaries send out prayer newsletters via email or regular mail to share about their ministry. They may post photos on facebook, blogs, or other social media showing their work, asking for prayer, or simply sharing about life overseas.
These missionaries on the field can provide a first-hand resource as you seek to teach your children about the world and teach them about mission work.
If you can’t go yourself, you can send others.
There are many people who would love to serve as overseas missionaries, but can’t. Supporting a missionary provides a way to still be “in the game.”
As our own family currently is in the United States temporarily, unable to serve overseas for medical reasons, we are so grateful that we’re able to support some other missionaries and have a hand in God’s work overseas through them.
Our organization calls our financial and prayer supporters our “ministry partners,” and we truly consider them our partners, standing side by side with us serving together all over the world.
How to Find a Missionary to Support
If you don’t already support a missionary, here are some ways to find one. 🙂
Consider your own friends and family members.
Do you know any friends or family members serving as missionaries? Ask them for more information about their ministry and find out if they need financial support. Don’t worry about bothering them.
I can’t imagine any missionary would be unhappy to receive an email, phone call, or facebook message saying, “I’m interested in financially supporting a missionary. Do you need financial support? Could you give me some more information about your ministry?”
Check if your church supports any missionaries or has connections with any missionaries.
Contact your pastor or missions pastor to see if your church supports any missionaries.
Even if there are no missionaries currently supported by your church’s budget, they may be able to recommend someone who has previously made a presentation at your church, or is a “friend” of your congregation.
Contact an organization you support and ask if they have any missionaries in need.
Do you already have connections with a mission organization?
Call the organization and see if they have any missionaries currently beginning their support-raising or who are under-supported. The organization can provide a recent newsletter or contact information for the missionary.
Look online at mission organizations web sites.
If all else fails, you can just go on the web site for a mission organization and look at their list of missionaries.
We’ve done this a couple times before, when we wanted to support a particular organization but didn’t know any missionaries who worked with them. It was fun to know we were blessing a totally random family (and the family reached out to us and is now our facebook friend.)
Here are a few organizations you could check out:
Think outside the box.
Did you know that other countries send missionaries, too? Here’s an interesting article (a little outdated) that shares about some of the countries that send the most missionaries, including Brazil, South Korea, India, South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, China, Colombia, and Nigeria.
You’ll notice many of these countries battle extreme poverty, and I’m sure their churches lack much funding to send missionaries… but they do it anyway!
For years, there have been missionaries to China, India, and parts of Africa… wouldn’t it be so neat to support someone from one of those countries serving as a missionary himself?
Honestly, I’m not sure how to put you in touch with a missionary sent from another country, but supporting one of these missionaries from another country is certainly something to consider.
Perhaps if you know someone serving internationally, you could see if they could put you in touch with a local missionary who needs support.
What Missionaries Want You to Know
Based on my experiences and from conversations with other missionaries, here are a few things we want you to know:
Please start giving or make a commitment to donate even before the missionary moves overseas.
We have been so blessed by people who faithfully donated to our family’s ministry while we were actively support raising, and continue to donate even though we’re not overseas yet (we are actively involved in full-time ministry here in the U.S.)
Don’t feel like you need to wait till they actually go. If you know someone who is support-raising, ask if you can start donating right away, or at least offer a commitment to donate as soon as they move overseas.
By starting your donation now, you’re helping the missionary as they make final preparations to move overseas… a time typically filled with lots of extra expenses and stresses.
Please donate to missionaries who are doing ministry in the United States, too.
Though we do hope to serve overseas soon, we know so many missionaries who permanently work here in the U.S.
They are doing such valuable work planting churches in multicultural communities, working with international college students, aiding refugees, or serving in support roles for organizations that serve overseas.
Yet it can be so difficult for them to raise support since they don’t live the “glamorous” life of a missionary serving in an exotic location overseas!
Please consider supporting a “state-side” missionary (or a missionary in your own country, wherever you live).
Please tell the missionary when you first make a donation. Even better, ask if there is a preferred way to donate.
If this is your first time donating, or if you’re giving a special gift, it’s a great idea to send an email or facebook message to the missionary to give them a heads up.
That way, they can send a thank you note promptly, and they can make sure it goes through properly for their support.
(If you give a monthly/recurring donation, it’s not necessary to communicate this every time).
Likewise, if you need to stop a regularly donation, tell them that too! It might seem awkward, but this enables the missionary to thank you for your past gifts and to be sure you really intended to stop giving, rather than wondering whether you forgot or just changed credit cards.
Missionaries are so grateful for your financial support and couldn’t do it without you! Thanks for your faithful giving! Truly, every missionary I’ve ever talked to is grateful for the support of our ministry partners. Sometimes life gets busy, or we just can’t come up with the words to adequately convey that thankfulness. So if you are someone who supports an overseas missionary, please let me say “thank you” on their behalf!!