Missionaries: The Last Frontier of World Missions?

July 11, 2012

Churches, missionary care

It’s never too late to launch a ministry to missionaries (image courtesy of NASA).

When I tell people that missionaries are my unreached people group they just stare at me.  Which proves my point that missionaries may be the last frontier of world missions.

Plenty of unreached people groups exist all over the world.  It takes a lot of effort to reach them, and by God’s grace we will reach them.

But missionaries are in your own backyard, in your neighborhood and in your churches.  Whether of retirement age or twenty-somethings who have yet to be sent out, missionaries have unique needs that most of you are ignoring.

That’s why missionaries are my unreached people group.  They need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Oh, they know the Lord.  They love and serve the Lord.  But who loves on them?  Who shares the love of Christ with them?

Some of you know how to do love on missionaries.  Your missionaries are reached.  Keep it up.

Most of you don’t take the time to love your missionaries, to ask them the hard questions, to spend time to see how their past term went.  Where is your compassion?  Why don’t you show missionaries generosity?

Some of you are church and mission agency leaders who know better.  Why do you continue to ignore the needs of missionaries in favor of “vision” and “strategy”?

Praise God for pioneer missionaries who have taken the gospel over the centuries to people’s who have never heard. These final frontiers have been turned into Christ communities by God’s grace and the goodness of missionaries who have sacrificed personal gain to establish God’s glory among the unreached.

Missionaries sacrifice a lot personally, professionally, familially, socially and financially.  It wouldn’t hurt us to do some special things for them from time to time.

Missionaries as a people group speak your language (I’m speaking now to the American community).  You don’t have to move halfway around the world to reach them.  You don’t have to change your lifestyle, give up your job or say goodbye to your family.

All you need to do to reach missionaries is:

  • spend time with them
  • ask them hard questions like “how is your marriage?”
  • provide them opportunities to grow
  • listen to their stories
  • send them on a vacation or weekend getaway
  • visit them on the field
  • tell them thank you for serving

Missionaries have the same problems as you and I do but due to the nature of their cross-cultural lifestyles, their problems are more intense and more varied.  People treat them as hands off.  But missionaries need to be treated with hands on care so that they can live effective lives and ministries.

If you don’t know how to love on missionaries (I bet you can figure it out though) read my blog.  Or send me a note and I’ll be happy to talk with you and help you or your church or your agency to come up with an effective, God-honoring  missionary care plan.

Are missionaries, the people in the body of Christ who have chosen to obey the command of Christ to preach the gospel to the nations, worth a little bit of your time, energy, finances and love?

More Resources

11 Types of Care Missionaries Want

Honoring Our Missionaries

What A Missionary Desires From Churches

The Desire of The Sending Church

5 Ways to Care For Your Missionary TODAY

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17 Comments on “Missionaries: The Last Frontier of World Missions?”

  1. Dave Says:

    May your tribe increase, Brian! It is time for the body of Christ to rise up and do that for which it was designed.

    Reply

  2. carrol Says:

    oh, how true! This has been our (negative) experience since we have been ‘home’ on furlough… Frankly, can’t wait to get back on the field!

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Carrol, sorry that this has been your experience. Hang in there. Let people know your needs. Keep praying and trusting. Speak with your church leaders.

      Let me know if you want to dialogue further.

      Brian

      Reply

  3. Brian Stankich Says:

    Unfortunately, home assignment (furlough) is often the most difficult and disliked time of a missionary’s ministry due to the travel and unsettling of routines and the family. What to stay in? What to drive? A different church every Sunday – really?

    When this season is compounded by people or churches or leaders who pay little attention to the missionary, disenfranchised grief can often be the result. Check out this fine article from Clearing Customs

    http://clearingcustoms.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/disenfranchised-grief-and-the-returning-cross-cultural-worker/

    Reply

  4. Craig Says:

    Brian. Thanks for a great post. So many need to hear this, including me.

    Craig

    Reply

  5. Christie Says:

    Thank you for saying the things that need to be said, but that those who “know” can’t really say, if that makes sense. 😉 Great post, great website!

    Reply

  6. marinabromley Says:

    There are some folks that “get it” and enrich the emotional, spiritual, physical and relational needs of global workers here, near, and far away. They pray for them through all seasons, and care for them when they are “here or there” (BOTH places might feel like home…or neither of them). Some folks help the missionary kids when they return to the U.S. to go to college, and connect them to other MK’s who might understand what it’s like to be a Third Culture Kid. Some of them help hold the hands and dry the tears of the parents and siblings that are left behind, encouraging them through the holidays, and difficult days, and reminding them that the God who equipped their kids/siblings to “GO” also equipped them to “SEND”. Some of them are gifted to listen and debrief when they are “yanked” off the field, or to ask hard questions to make sure they are prepared to “go” or “go back”.

    Missionary Care is a bit of a mission field, isn’t it? I’m glad to be a part of it!

    ps- women who have served, or are preparing to serve, or are currently serving on the field, women “doing” missionary care, and moms and sisters of global workers can email me if they are interested in joining an online discussion group through the women’s ministry of DaySpring, ( http://incourage.me ) on Facebook: marina(at)global-outfitters(dot)com

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Hello, Marina, thank you for your reply. Yes, praise God for the many who do ‘get it’ and provide solid missionary care in all its facets. My desire is to move that group from a minority to a majority of people, because 80% of missionary care is awareness and rolling up the sleeves.

      I guess it’s like many things in the “Christian” world (church, missions, prayer) – only a small group actually participates in anything outside of Sunday morning.

      Reply

      • marinabromley Says:

        Yes! I think across the board I’ve heard 10% of the body does 9% of the work in all ministries combined. 😦 it leaves those that do engage burned out!
        Do you have a favorite resource to use for worker care?

        Reply

        • Brian Stankich Says:

          I still prefer Kelly O’Donnell’s Doing Member Care Well. It is a little old school now but still pretty comprehensive. We do need something updated for the current decade and something that is a little more user friendly. What do you like?

          Reply

          • marinabromley Says:

            I find I’m referring “Serving As Senders”, and “Tender Care” by Barnabas International… That’s the newer one I like. SAS was updated last year, but I haven’t seen the new one, but I’ve heard it’s good.

            I’m working on something as an e-reader.. Small and user friendly, not clinical at all. More of a “Why We Should and How To”.

            Reply

            • Brian Stankich Says:

              SAS is very basic but a good starting point for many. I haven’t looked at Tender Care so thanks for the tip! Another good site and service is by Dave Lewis at Paracletos http://paracletos.org/

              Reply

              • marinabromley Says:

                Here are some other good resources:
                Doing Member Care Well – Perspectives and Practices from Around the World (2002)
                Expectations and Burnout – Women Surviving the Great Commission, by Sue Eenigenburg and Robynn Bliss (2010)
                Global Member Care – The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice, by Kelly O’Donnell (2011) (she also edited the Doing Member Care Well book, above)
                Honourably Wounded – Stress Among Christian Workers, by Marjory F. Foyle (2010)
                Helping Missionaries Grow, by Kelly S. and Michele Lewis O’Donnell (1988)
                and the one I mentioned before –
                Tender Care – The Heart and Soul of Caring for God’s Scattered Servants – A conversation with the “Seabrook Seven” (2010)

                There are also other resources listed at http://missionarycare.com
                A great Member Care web site for “self care” is – http://ministrycare.org/self-care-for-field-workers/ and Gary Reed does an EXCELLENT newsletter (for free!!).
                and a GREAT site for women is http://missionalwomen.com
                The site for BRIGADA touches on Member Care and other resources for missions and ministry: http://www.brigada.org/tag/member-care

              • marinabromley Says:

                There’s also a cd of “stuff” that was put together by the late David Mays, called “Stuff” – it’s a comprehensive listing of “everything missions” – but the latest issue is 2008…and he passed a little over a year ago.
                STILL – things like his list of “things that fit in an envelope” is irreplaceable – and there is a LOT of information on missions as a whole, not just care (questions to ask for debriefing short term workers, questions to ask a missions sending organization, are just a few of the things I’ve used lately). His wife is still selling the cd’s, I think for $15 – and you won’t find things listed here anywhere. (I occasionally find something outdated, but it’s still a GREAT resource to build on).

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