It’s my honor to introduce you to Deb Crawford, a fellow blogger with a heart for missions. She and her husband spent several years sharing the Gospel in South Africa. I asked her to share some thoughts about better supporting missionaries. She offers a unique perspective here, as she knows firsthand the challenges of returning from the field.
Returning missionaries are too often simply overlooked. We cross them off our prayer lists and forget how hard it must be to recalibrate so unexpectedly. But I hope you’ll take her suggestions to heart — and offer her your support too! Be sure to leave a comment, and take a moment to check out her blog. I know you’ll be blessed by it!
Some return from the field hurting and disillusioned. Others had to leave unexpectedly and some may have lost financial support. Some saw the fruit of their work while others did not. There are various reasons missionaries leave the field.
Our prayers for them are just as needed as the day they left.
Here are four ways we can continue to pray for a missionary family who has returned home:
1. Pray for their relationship with the Lord. Depending upon the circumstances of their return, missionaries may be filled with doubt about their decision. They may become depressed. This can affect their spiritual condition. Pray that they continue to be devoted to God’s word and prayer. Pray God would give them wisdom and discernment as they seek Him for their future.
2. Pray for their marriage and family. Returning home can be just as stressful as beginning a new life in another country. Most formed new friendships in their former field that they hold close to their heart. Then there is the sadness of leaving the people they were ministering to. From finding a home to getting a job or returning to ministry somewhere, there are many issues a family faces upon return. One spouse may have a desire for a new ministry that the other does not. If children are involved, they have to adjust to a new school and making new friends. Pray for them to have God’s peace and comfort. Pray their transition goes smoothly. Pray they extend grace to one another.
3. Pray for them as they return to church life. Depending upon how long they have been gone, it can be difficult to for them to return to their home church. They may feel like strangers in a church they have always loved. People within the church are busy using their gifts and talents and they may not know where they fit in anymore. Pray church members would reach out to them and minister to them. Pray God would lead them where they can be used in ministry at their local church.
4. Pray for their needs. Most missionaries return with very little possessions and no place to live. While staying with a family member is fine in the beginning, most will want a place of their own. Pray they would be able to find a home. Pray God’s provision for them as they will need the basic items to fill a home such as furniture, appliances and groceries. Pray for them a vehicle so they can get around on their own.
As you pray for the returned missionary family, let them know you are praying by sending them a note of encouragement. This act of kindness shows them they have not been forgotten and brings comfort to the returned missionary family struggling to adjust.
Their mission work may have ended but our prayers must not. (tweet this)
Debbie Crawford and her husband served as missionaries for three years in the areas of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Now back in the states, Debbie writes about God, the Christian life and books at her blog Telling of His Wonderful Deeds. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.