Skip to main content

The New Testament makes clear that we should have an attitude of loving support towards missionaries: “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God . . . support people like these” (3 John 68).

We know that we are to show sincere care for sent-out gospel workers. But how? Consider these four ways in which we can demonstrate our love for gospel laborers. 

1. Pray regularly and intentionally. 

Samuel Zwemer wisely remarked, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” We know that prayer is foundational to the missionary task. Some would even go so far as to say it is the missionary task. 

The missionaries you and your church support do not only need financial support; they need to know that the rope is being held for them via the faithful intercession of the body of Christ back home on its knees. Never underestimate the impact you can make by lifting up your missionary friends before the throne of grace. 

2. Send tangible expressions of love. 

Of course, we must love in deed, not merely in word (1 John 3:18). This begins with financial generosity towards gospel workers, but it need not be limited to monetary support. 

Missionaries are people too. Tangibly expressing love towards them is no different than it would be for any of our other friends or neighbors. What gifts or goodies do you enjoy? Consider sending them along in a care package. Does the missionary family have children? Send care packages specific to those kids, or, if customs fees are a barrier, send funds earmarked for the children to pick out something they would enjoy—children and parents alike will be absolutely delighted that you’re thinking about each member of the family. If you’re wondering what to pack, or unsure if sending a package could result in high customs fees on delivery, simply reach out to the missionary and ask—they won’t be offended. 

3. Show hospitality. 

Whether the missionary you know is visiting for a long weekend or is in the midst of an extended furlough, the same rules of Christian love apply. Missionaries want to feel as though they are a part of your church’s community, since in a real sense, they still are. 

Inviting visiting missionaries into your pulpit or to your potluck are great steps towards giving these dear ones a warm reception. Yet let us not neglect the oft-overlooked virtue of hospitality. Bring them into your home. Give them a setting in which to relax, to let down their hair, and to get out of public presentation mode. They’ll be glad you did.  

4. Don’t treat them as superhuman. 

If avoidance is at one extreme of faulty ways of treating visiting missionaries, infatuation is at the other. Missionaries do not want to be kept at arms’ length, and they don’t want you to think that they see you as just another potential donor or recruit. Yet neither do they want to be put on a pedestal or treated as though they belong to an elite class of super-Christians. 

To illustrate this point, in conversation with missionaries, phrases like, “I could never do what you do” are not always warmly received. What is intended as a compliment to the missionary’s dedication is often perceived as a way of absolving the person making the comment from their own next steps of Great Commission obedience—given the fact that the missionary, being an ordinary person, took a step of faith, and therefore others can too. Missionaries are not so holy that they levitate. They’re normal people too (whatever that means), and loving them means not treating them as alien.  

5. Visit them. 

Only so much love can be shown from afar. Sometimes, in order to show love, nothing but the simple ministry of physical presence can suffice (see 3 John 13-14). If your family and church have the means and opportunity, a short-term trip to encourage and relieve your supported missionaries may be the perfect way to visibly demonstrate love. 

Though many of us want to be “useful” on a missions trip—and for that reason, many short-term trips are built around performing manual tasks of debatable necessity (like repainting the same wall each time a short-term team visits)—perhaps the most useful thing we can do is provide a ministry of edification to the missionaries already on the ground. 

Brothers and sisters: we have been called to love those who have gone out among the nations for the sake of Christ. Let us do so in a manner that is godly, loving, and tangible

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by the Message magazine issue “Transformed: Lives Changed Across the Globe” and also posted on the abwe page on March 13th, 2024. Used with permission.

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. He was also Director of Long-Term Mobilization for ABWE from 2016-2020

Skip to content