The holiday season is typically packed with celebrations with family, friends, and church communities—but we may also feel a little nostalgic that we cannot be with everyone we love because of distance. This is very real for our missionaries abroad. This season is the best time to remind them that they are in our prayers and in our hearts.
The church in Philippi knew how much it meant for Paul to have church support in and out of season. The church sent Epafroditus with a gift and to accompany Paul while he was in prison. Reciprocally, Paul sent back a warm loving letter to the brothers and sisters.
Here are four “easy to-do'' principles for supporting missionaries that we can learn from the Philippian/Paul relationship:
1. Develop and maintain presence
In the final greetings in his letter to the Phillippians, Paul knows people by name. It was personal. Similarly, the Phillippians knew Paul’s needs well. Today, it’s easier to stay connected! Email, snail mail, phone calls, or video calls are all easy to do and still so meaningful that it may bring tears and smiles to your missionary.
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more...” (1:4,5,9). Praying and telling your missionaries that you pray for them is good. Writing them a prayer is awesome (1:9-11). I am sure they will save those prayers. I did.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4). “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord…”(4:10).” Real friendship and fellowship happened in an intertwined crossing of thanksgivings and prayers, laughter and crying, giving and receiving, near and far.
Your missionary probably has a tangible need you can help meet in their ministry, whether that’s through sending finances, volunteers, or certain items that are easier to ship than purchase in-country. “You Philippians well know, and you can be sure I’ll never forget it, that when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice” (4:15-17, The Message).
Action: Think of at least one missionary you are in contact with, pick from the list of missionaries your church supports or choose from Resonate’s website. Then, this Christmas season, you still have time to put these principles into practice. It will bring you more joy and blessing than what you may ever imagine.
Marco Avila is Resonate Global Mission's Regional Mission Leader for the Eastern USA