Her name was Ruby and she let me spray whip cream straight from the can into my mouth!
That is how one of our hosts was remembered by us four furlough-exhausted kids for the longest time…We would reminisce about the many homes we visited on furlough and about this couple we would say, “Yeah, remember, she was the one who had lots of dessert and sprayed whipped cream into our mouths. She even told mom not to stop us!” But on top of this highlight for us kids, I know my parents remembered Herb and Ruby for so much more. My mom says, we climbed out of our minivan, loaded down by hundreds of miles in the middle of a 8 week stretch of missions conferences and walked up to their door for another meal.
Ruby opened the door with a big smile and out stretched arms with hugs for all of us. She had a blanket laying over one arm, and when all six of us made it inside, Herb took dad to where the football was on and sat him in a nice comfy chair and Ruby handed my mom a blanket and showed her to a room for a nap; taking us four kids to the table for some fun and games which eventually led outside to their house that overlook Mt. Saint Helens. Somehow in all that time she also prepared an amazing meal, which obviously we kids remembered.
They refreshed my family by putting themselves in each of our shoes. They gave rest and allowed their home to be used for a place to restore and renew. They encouraged us and listened. They embraced us and let us relax and be ourselves. They served us and found unique ways to minister to my family. Because…sometimes, those in ministry need to be served too…I know my parents, my family, needed it that day. And because Herb and Ruby were sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading, my family got the boost they needed that day to continue the job that was before them.
I tell you about this sweet couple because I want you to realize that it doesn’t take much to make a big impact in someone life, specifically today, talking about our missionaries’ lives. They are normal people, just like me and you. They are excited about what God has called them too and eagerly want to share, with an interested ear, about what that al entails. They also need rest, encouragement and someone to be sensitive to what their particular needs might be at that time.
So, from things I remember people doing for my family, I decided to make you a list. That way, at your next church mission’s conference or the next time your missionary friend is on furlough, you have a few more ideas for ways to bless them.
10 Things To Do To Encourage A Missionary On Furlough:
1. Give the missionary or missionary family a gift card to go out to a restaurant. If they have kids, offer to babysit while they go out.
2. Have the missionary or missionary family over for dinner (into your home) and let them rest and play games with no agenda.
3. Take a missionary out to coffee and ask the deep, hard, exciting, questions with genuine care and interest.
4. Give them a little spending money to do something fun on the road. (They will spend hours driving while on furlough.)
5. Make sure they are suited with warm coats and boots for winters or swimwear for the summer.
6. Some MKs get warn thin. During a Sunday School Hour offer to take them aside and let them hang out with you instead of going to their 10th new Sunday School class.
7. If they have kids, take them to a park and just let them run, play, laugh and “let their hair down” while the parents do whatever they want and/or need to do.
8. Take them to the movies.
9. Prepare your church family before-hand with information about the visiting missionaries and encourage people to invite them into their homes for meals, taking interest in their lives, and building relationships with them that could remain after they are gone.
10. Keep in touch after they leave, sending notes of encouragement, calls, and find ways to connect on their next furlough.
*Bonus: One response to update letter can be a huge encouragement to a missionary.
Do you have ideas you would like to share with ways that you have been able to bless and encourage a missionary or missionary family? We would love to hear from you at GMI and you can do so by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Erin Kemper
Visit Grace Ministry International’s website to learn more about their missionaries and about what God is doing through them around the world. http://www.gracem.org