Missionaries have to raise support (at least most of us do!). As I connect with folks, share about the work that God is doing in Japan, and invite them to participate through prayer and financial support, sometimes the answer comes back, “We believe the work you’re doing is great, and we’d love to support you, but we just don’t have any money right now.” This answer can come from individuals and churches alike. And this is fine. When missionaries head out to raise support, we go knowing that not everyone will be able to participate.
However, if you do find yourself in the position of wanting to support missionaries yet not having the resources to do so financially, I’d like to suggest a few ways that you can support and encourage them without having to donate money.
(1) Still agree to meet with them.
It may seem surprising, but we missionaries still want to meet with you and share about God’s work in our country even if you can’t partner financially with us. You’re not wasting our time. The goal of support raising is not to get people to empty their wallets but to build relationships and share about God’s work in another part of the world. Yes, ultimately we do need funds to go, but by agreeing to meet with us you’re saying, “What you’re doing is important enough for me to take time to hear about it.” This is an encouragement to us.
(2) Commit to pray for them.
When we say we’re looking for “prayer and financial supporters,” that “prayer” part is not a pious appendage that we slyly affix to our request for funds in order to make it sound spiritual. We actually do want, need, value, and appreciate people who will commit to interceding for us in prayer. If you are able to commit to doing this, please let us know! This is a very real and much needed way that you can participate in the missionary endeavor.
(3) Invite them to share and/or preach in your church.
Not every missionary is a preacher, but every missionary can share about their calling in a church context. Ask your pastor or elders if your missionary friend can share during your Sunday school hour or worship service. If the missionary is a preacher, ask if he can preach in your service. You can serve as a bridge between missionaries and your church leadership, facilitating opportunities for them to share with people that they might not otherwise be able to.
(4) Invite them to share with your small group.
If you’re in a small group, arrange for your missionary friend to come and share with the group. This is another great opportunity for you facilitate meetings that might not otherwise happen. And if your small group feels so led, you can “adopt” the missionary and regularly pray for them and send encouragements such as birthday cards or care packages to them once they’re on the field. Such acts of support are a huge boost of encouragement for missionaries living abroad, even if financial partnership is not involved.
(5) Host a “missions dessert” in your home.
This is a particularly creative way to support itinerating missionaries if your personal finances are maxed. Invite people from your church to come to your home for dessert and coffee and to hear from a missionary. This is yet another way to serve as a facilitator, use the gift of hospitality, and provide an environment for the missionary to share about God’s work in their country. Be sure to inform invitees that there is no pressure to give – by simply showing up at the dessert they fulfill number (1) above. However, in such situations you never know whose heart God may move to participate financially as well.
The above five suggestions certainly don’t exhaust the opportunities that exist to support missionaries when your budget is maxed, but they are a start. Of course, if you are able to support a missionary financially, that is another very necessary element for them to get to the field — and one that we certainly encourage and appreciate! But don’t let lack of finances keep you from the privilege of participating in God’s global work. He has given you gifts and resources that you can use to assist the spread of the gospel across the earth for His glory.