When this letter has been read among you, cause it to be read also in the assembly of the Laodiceans; and that you also read the letter from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:16 WEB)
Since I’ve been blessed with a missionary career involving radio broadcasting I can attest to the great need for communication. This is a two way street. Missionaries often feel cut off from their extended family, homeland, and supporters.
All missionaries should communicate with their supporters, family, and friends on a regular basis. This may be accomplished via prayer letters, email updates, and occasional telephone calls. It’s vital for a missionary to keep those interested in the ministry up to date on the encouraging and discouraging work of God in their lives and ministry.
Letters and communication are not only vital to the missionary relationship with their supporters, family, and friends but also with their listeners. The goal of radio mission work is the spiritual life of the listener. Each detail of the electronics, each file in the computer database, each program created is for reaching the listener with a message of God’s grace, love and salvation.
Beth worked in the Listener Mail Department on Guam for many years. The numerous letters she read to me were constant sources of encouragement. Through these letters we heard about lives changed, souls saved for eternity and the results of God’s Word broadcast to the world.
Today, we hear from our listeners via the postal system, internet email, telephone calls, texting and faxes. For those who visit the target countries there are also first-hand reports of God’s work in the world. Through these responses I’m continually encouraged in my calling from God.
I remember one specific letter on Guam. A listener heard a weak signal from a location outside our target area. The programs were beamed to the west and this listener was writing from the east. He was listening to the small signal which leaks off the backside of the antenna.
Even a small signal with the Word of God is sufficient to change a life. This man heard the word of salvation, gave his heart to the Lord and sought to serve God. I was curious. I took the letter and searched it for details of the date and time he listened.
Taking this information I went home and consulted my past work schedules. There it was. The same date and time this man indicated he heard the life giving words. I was the one on duty to press the transmitter buttons so this message could be heard so far away. Praise the Lord for such small things as pressing buttons. This was a letter of encouragement from a listener that reached directly to my heart.
Many times I’ve seen and heard missionaries discuss their sadness about being forgotten soldiers on the field of battle. They’re encouraged by friends in church, pastors and even family to pursue God’s work in their lives. They’re encouraged, sent to the field and left to survive on God alone. Now this is possible but God called us to work together throughout the ministry, not just in the preparation.
God does place His servants in situations where they rely on Him and Him alone. Our faith and trust in God grows in these situations. He also places His servants where He uses fellow believers to encourage and lift up the servant in their duties and life away from “home.” Training a missionary, raising his support and sending him to the field is not the end of the matter.
For a missionary to be a true partner in ministry, communication must flow to the missionary as well as from the missionary. In the years my family lived overseas we were encouraged by a few churches and individuals who took time to send email, drop a letter in the post, and even cards for birthdays.
As an encouragement we strive to answer each letter, card, email, or other contact we had with our co-laborers. Simple little notes describing what was happening in the family, the new things the children learned, how the church was growing or shrinking, praises for God’s hand of mercy and prayers for situations of struggle all built a bond between the missionary and the supporter.
Through these simple messages we began to know one another better and better. When we saw each other on furlough there wasn’t a need to struggle for names and relevant conversational information because we were already in touch.
Fire up that typewriter, sharpen your pencil, put ink in your pen, click out words on the computer, send a text or dial the telephone. Build a bond of fellowship, ministry and encouragement between you and the missionary. Don’t be worried the missionary is too busy.
If he claims he hasn’t time to communicate with you then honestly, he is too busy and headed for burn out and should consider whether this is God’s plan or his own. On the other hand his response may be delayed but he (or she) will still be encouraged by your prayer and care to contact him.
Create a conversation with a fellow sinner turned saint. Forge a bond between with a normal guy or gal responding to a special call. You both struggle with living a faithful life for God and serving Him with your lives. There is a common bond found only in the savior you cherish, praise and place your hopes upon.