By Colleen Smith

I am surrounded by people 24 hours a day, eight to 10 weeks in the summer. But sometimes that’s when I feel the loneliest.

Ministry is hard, and it can be lonely. I do ministry in a place where there is constant trauma (shootings, break-ins, crime, poverty, drug abuse, etc.), and I’m single. Yet I knew what I was doing when I said “Yes” to God.

How to love a missionary well

Quitting my job of financial stability and health insurance, moving out of my comfortable, historic home in a safe, fun neighborhood and leaving roommates I loved all meant I would have to trust God 100 percent. It meant asking people to love me and to pray for me.

As I was choosing to make this transition, one thing I did know was God would provide comfort on those lonely days. On the hardest of days, He rallies a team of people to walk alongside me. He gives me those who are not just ministry partners but ones who desire to love me in my ministry and on my worst of days. This team of people comes from different places. Some are local. Some can bless me financially to keep my ministry going. Some love me through prayer, phone calls, emails, cards and small gifts. But most importantly, this God-given team reminds me God cares for my well-being and reminds me I’m not alone.

How to love a missionary well
Here are some ways you can love your missionaries well:

  1. Create a team of people who can surround the community’s missionaries. It’s life changing when you know there is a team praying for and dreaming up ways to love you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Some people have the means to partner financially with a missionary whether through monthly giving or through a personal gift to use how the missionary sees fit.
  2. Some of the best ways my team loves me is through words of affirmation or encouragement. A card in the mail lets me know they’ve been thinking of me or praying for me. Also, a phone call to ask how I am doing can change my day for the better.
  3. An invitation to dinner, game night or to join a family for a walk in the park means more than they know. And if I say no, my team knows to not stop asking. Sometimes alone time is just necessary for someone serving on the front lines daily.
  4. I have been blessed with some partners who have vacation homes in the mountains and on the beach with standing offers to visit those homes when I need some time away to write and rejuvenate. If you have a time-share you’re not using or a second home sitting empty, please don’t be afraid to offer it to your local missionary.
  5. Maybe you know some places your missionary likes to go for a little respite like a favorite ice cream place, coffee shop, restaurant or movie theater. A little treat in the mail is a nice surprise. If your missionary is anything like me the missionary lives on a budget and doesn’t stray from it to treat him or herself. Gift cards or money shows your local missionary you notice his or her likes.
  6. The gift of time is not overrated. Maybe you have 30 minutes to spare for a coffee or lunch date. Maybe you have extra time on the weekend to do his or her laundry or clean the bathrooms. If you’re local to your missionary, maybe giving your time means showing up one day to serve in his or her ministry.
  7. Include your local missionary in your prayers. This may require you to reach out to the missionary, asking for prayer requests. It may also mean asking others to pray alongside you for your missionary. But just know that missionaries can always use your prayers. I feel better and more confident knowing I’ve people talking to God on my behalf, asking Him to comfort me, surround me in strength and to give me wisdom.

Consider doing one or two (or all seven) of these things for your local missionaries, and live on mission today!

Colleen Smith is a team member of Captivate Church and serves as a missionary in her neighborhood.