Beyond Christmas: Remembering Your Missionaries Year-round
The Christmas season is a unique time. It combines intense busyness and stress with instances of reflection and sentiment. Searching for Christmas gifts creates a conflict of emotion that mixes the tension of finding the perfect gift with the joy of giving the perfect gift. For Christians, though, it is a time to love God by loving others through service and sacrifice.
One reflection of this love is through intentional remembrance of our missionaries. This is a noble ambition that is gratifying to grateful missionaries and pleasing to God. As a missionary, I can express my genuine thankfulness for those who remember us during the season of Christmas with cards, notes, and gifts. However, while Christmas provides an occasion to remember our missionaries, such an opportunity exists throughout the year. Because ministry continues every day, the stresses and financial pressures of providing for both a family and full-time ministry occur year-round as well. Therefore, it is wise to remember our missionaries through every season.
I know a family who, because of their diversity, find getting together for Christmas nearly impossible. So, they compromised with one another and now celebrate Christmas together in July. There is a church who has done something similar. Christmas was so stressful for the church body and for individuals, that they lacked true thoughtfulness of their missionaries during that time. Instead, they began an event in September. Communicating with their missionaries they developed a list of wants and needs both for the family and for the ministry and they gave the church body the opportunity to participate by purchasing items from those lists. The missions committee then reserved some money in order to provide more so that each missionary received items from both lists and that it was equal across the board so that no family was missed.
The key here is to remember our missionaries throughout the year. Whether as a church body or as an individual, you can do the same. There are four very basic ways in which you can remember missionaries throughout the year:
- Send a financial gift: Perhaps this is the most obvious, the most effortless, and the most practical. In comparison to many professionals, missionaries are often underpaid while having some unique expenses. These are expenses that exist not just at Christmas but at any given time so a financial gift is always appreciated.
- Send a message: A handwritten card or letter goes a long way at encouraging a missionary and reminding them of those that labor with them in ministry, even from afar.
- Send a care package: Consider sending a physical package of items that a missionary does not have access to. One caution: check with the missionary first. Some countries mailing systems are not as secure, while others may charge major fees.
- Send a friend: Send someone down to visit the missionary or go yourself. There is much encouragement to be had by personal visits and at the same time it provides an opportunity to see/understand the ministry that is taking place.
Remembering our missionaries does not have to be complex. It only needs to be thoughtful and intentional, and the blessing that comes from that is beyond description
While Christmas may come with the expectation as the best time of the year to remember your missionaries, the need exists throughout the year. Therefore, a benefit exists at being different and encouraging your missionaries during other times. Being different means that both individuals and missionaries are not focused on the stress of the holidays resulting in people who are more directly involved and missionaries who are more directly impacted.
Robert Zink, BMW Missionary to Argentina