guest post by John Lambert
Since we have recently returned to the US from an overseas assignment, I thought I'd take a minute to share some simple yet powerful things you can do to care for returning missionaries.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Be interested in their work enough to ask questions
- Find a way to do something special for the wife and kids
- Make sure they have a place to stay and a car to drive
- Help them find opportunities to share with new people
- Highlight their return on the church's web site or in a bulletin
- Honor them like you would any Pastor or Church leader
- Overdo it with love and encouragement
Life serving on a far away field can be tough. There usually are not only spiritual battles that have been fought but also unique cultural and emotional pressures that a family serving as workers overseas face.
Families need a strong reentry team that will understand these realities and work to make the family's reentry as smooth as possible.
In "Serving as Senders", author and mobilizer Neal Pirolo outlines five vital steps to reentry modeled in Acts 14 and 15 at the end of a mission.
1) they finished their assignment
2) they returned to their sending church
3) they received the church's hospitality
4) they rehearsed ALL that God had done in and through them
5) they ministered again in their church
Neal goes on to say that
"the most critical area in missions today is how a church cares for its missionaries when they return home."
If you had experience in this area of caring for returning missionaries, what would you add?
Does your church support and send missionary families from its own body?
John Lambert has served in Thailand with his wife and two sons for nearly four years. He is now on stateside assignment at the US Center for World Mission working on missions mobilization and strategy.
John blogs at: http://www.spreadtheflame.com
Find him on Twitter: @johnlambert