USA (MNN) — The pandemic sends missionaries home to the United States and simultaneously increases needs in the field.
“People are experiencing a need for God and His Word in an obvious and personal way. It’s been neat to see the way God is continuing the work, even in the middle of a pandemic,” Wycliffe USA’s Beth Matheson says.
“In some cases, work is accelerated because of the pandemic. Local leaders are stepping into roles they might not have considered before.”
Wycliffe USA partners with organizations and individuals to advance Bible translation worldwide. In some instances, that means sending missionaries from the United States to foreign mission fields. Feeling called? Find an opportunity here.
“Some people have chosen to stay longer because the field where they’re serving is experiencing harder things,” Matheson says, describing a current trend on the global mission field.
“[At the same time], a lot of people needed to come home earlier, simply because they have health issues they need to be in the U.S. to deal with well.”
How to help, not hurt
You can help make the transition easier for missionaries returning to the U.S. Find five practical tips and ideas from Wycliffe USA here.
“Probably the most important of those five, I would say, [is] give them space and grace, and recognize that missionaries do struggle,” Matheson says.
“The foundational idea is that missionaries are real people with real needs.”
It’s essential to recognize a missionary’s humanity because these families often feel held to a different standard by well-meaning church communities. Sometimes, believers in the U.S. assume Gospel workers don’t face the same everyday life challenges as everyone else.
“My husband and I have served in Papua New Guinea, and we’re both children of Wycliffe missionaries. He grew up in Brazil; I grew up in the Philippines, so we have no illusions that missionaries are superheroes with capes,” Matheson says.
Matheson and her family know how powerful a gracious homecoming can be. “We’ve experienced people’s goodness, and God’s goodness through people, in the way that they’ve welcomed us home,” she says.
“Our kids still look back on the ways that God provided for us through His people and see it as evidence of His love for us.”
Find your place in the story
Pray your way through Wycliffe USA’s “5 ways to welcome your missionary friends home” post. Ask the Lord to reveal how He can use you to encourage Gospel workers in your social circle.
“It’s not for the benefit of the missionary family [alone],” Matheson says.
“It’s also important for you because you need to be connected to the work God is doing around the world in a practical and amazing way.”
Pray missionaries on home assignments will find encouragement and rest. “A lot of times, people come home pretty tired and just need some time to rest and recover,” Matheson says.
“[Missionaries] need time to ‘refill’ so they can move into the next season of whatever it is God has for them.”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Sixteen Miles Out/Unsplash.