I have enjoyed this blog series on the characteristics of an effective missionary. I believe each characteristic is important! This week’s post will be no exception. An effective missionary keeps in contact. We are living in an era when staying in contact is so easy! With the technology and widespread use of it, we are able to communicate in an instant. If it is via email or website, most people don’t even have to wait to get home, they can get updates on their phones. This is so common place, that it almost sounds silly that I am making a big deal out of it, but this is relatively new. 50 years ago, missionaries could not communicate with ease. In 2022, we can be almost anywhere in the world and keep people up to date with what is going on in the ministry.
Today there is no excuse that we have to not communicate with others and communicate often. There may be a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. At the drafting of this blog post, I am sitting in the airport in Los Angeles, California. Lord willing we will be taking off in a few hours to head back to Atlanta. We have enjoyed the meetings with churches we have been in through this past week, but we are also looking forward to Atlanta (even if it is for a day or two). This morning, from California, we have already been in contact with people in Argentina, Leslie spoke with a missionary friend who was just in New York City, and I am hearing from friends in other countries via a text message group. It is amazing how easy it is to stay in contact with others.
With that in mind, an effective missionary should stay in contact. I am going to break this down into two categories.
- Monthly prayer letters sent through the mail. Sending a one page prayer letter each month is easy. There is always something to share that is going on in the ministry. When a missionary is on deputation, he should be traveling and can share how God is working as he raises funds to go to the mission field. When he is learning the language and culture, there are things that he can share about things he is learning and the small opportunities he has to witness, and when he is planting a church, there are many things going on to share as well. Most churches ask that missionaries send a prayer letter a minimum of once every three months. I think we can do better than that. Prayer letters should be sent every month, there is no reason not to. If you want people praying for you and the ministry God has given you, then you need to keep people up to date with specifics, so they can pray for people by name, and pray for specific events, etc. An effective missionary sends prayer letters to partnering churches monthly.
- Emails should be sent weekly. Physical prayer letters have a cost (although it is not that much). Emails are free! An effective missionary keeps people up to date each week. You do not have to write a novel, just a short paragraph about what has happened, or what is coming up. Be specific and be consistent. Be specific about the the names of people you are working with and about the special events that you are holding, be it a special day or an evangelistic campaign. Be consistent in sending quick update emails each week.
There are other ways that missionaries can stay in touch. Some use social media, some directly message faithful prayer warriors. Both are great options. The point is that it is easy to communicate with others. An effective missionary keeps in contact with those who are “holding the rope” back home.