In UFM, we believe God calls people like you and me, backed by the local church, to bring the good news of Jesus to all four corners of the world.
Men and women, single and married, with or without children, go empowered by the Holy Spirit, in the name of the Lord, offering new life in Jesus. They need to be sent by the local church, here are some tried and tested ways to be a supportive sender.
Be a friend. Communicate!
Discouragement can come, maybe all too soon, in those early months. Working cross-culturally in another language is hard. Show your mission partners they are not forgotten. Use up to date technology to communicate, such as email, Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. Receiving cards and parcels is a great encouragement. Remember birthdays and special occasions. Send invitations, even if you know they won’t be able to attend. Share your news and make sure they know what is happening in the life of the church. Always try and acknowledge a prayer letter (especially if you are a church leader), even with just a few lines to show you have read it.
Provide personalised care
Recognise needs and respond. Your mission partners are not super human. They are individuals with gifts and also vulnerabilities. Remember the needs of single missionaries are different from those who are married and seek to support appropriately. Know them well before they go so you know their personalities and the things which give them joy or produce stress. Don’t overlook husbands or wives or children, care for each as needed. Support the whole family. Ask about physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Appoint a mission link, someone they know well with whom there is regular communication and who can provide appropriate news to the church and from the church too.
Perhaps the greatest thing you can do for those who go is to faithfully pray for them. Pray for their work and personal needs. Use their prayer letters to inform praying and find out if prayers have been answered. Pray on your own and with others, in small groups and large gatherings. Pray for them in prayer meetings and church services. Foster links between ladies groups and missionary women. Committed consistent prayer will lead to effective support in other ways.
By faith mission partners look to God to provide all they need for their personal and ministry expenses. Make sure they are supported adequately. Work with UFM to know what their support requirement is and whether it is being met. Consider one off gifts, monthly support or support for particular needs and other expenses including holidays. Provide practical support, particularly when on home assignment or re-entry. Think of the needs of children or elderly parents. You can offer to help with storing belongings, being a “home address” or a contact person in the UK.
If you go and join your mission partner even for a short visit (with their agreement) you will see and experience their life and ministry. You will be enriched, they will be blessed and your church will also have greater insight as you share what you have seen. This results in more encouragement, greater care, effective prayer and appropriate practical and financial support for your mission partner.