The unique challenges and stresses that missionaries experience provide an incredible privilege and opportunity for the leaders and members of their local church to reflect God’s glory through the love and care they bestow on them.
Whether a missionary is on the path to departure for the field, currently serving on the field, or in the midst of the difficult transition back to life in America, the call to be a missionary includes a call to dependence on God’s people to meet a variety of distinct needs that cross-cultural ministry in another country produces.
CARING FOR MISSIONARIES REQUIRES THE WHOLE CHURCH BODY
When the diversity of gifts, talents, life experiences, and resources that God has deposited in to a local church are harnessed to meet the multi-faceted and obedience-generated needs of their fellow believers that God calls to be missionaries, His glory is proclaimed to the nations in a very distinct way.
Missionary Care is the term that is generally used to describe the wide-ranging ways that God’s people express their love and care for missionaries in the spiritual and practical realm.
Because the spectrum of needs missionaries have are so diverse, most members of a local church with a heart and desire to do so, can find a way to participate in being a channel of God’s love to the missionaries they know.
Yet as important as every form of Missionary Care is, Shepherd’s Staff is convinced that missionaries need specialized care that is focused on their spiritual and emotional growth and development, in addition to the care that can be provided by many of their fellow church members.
WHAT IS MISSIONARY NURTURE?
We refer to this specialized form of Missionary Care as Missionary Nurture.
Using local church terminology, Missionary Nurture is pastoral-type care that includes the encouragement that any believer should be able to give, but also aims at helping move the missionary forward in their lives in these areas:
–Their intimacy with God
–Their understanding of His grace and truth in this unique season of life and ministry
–Their application of His truth and grace in their own lives, their family’s, and those they serve
–Their capacity to grasp the local language and culture and then communicate God’s truths as clearly and understandably as possible.
NURTURING OTHERS IS A RECOGNIZABLE GIFT
The ability of a man or woman to nurture the growth and development of others is a gift from God that they exercise in the lives of others on a regular basis, and that is easily observable to those who know them at any level.
When those that have the gift of nurturing others are made aware of the unique challenges and stresses that missionaries face, they are usually very eager to gain an understanding of what missionary life entails, and diligent to learn the best way possible to speak in to their lives.
A SMALL TEAM TO PROVIDE MISSIONARY NURTURE
Due to the out of the ordinary context missionaries live and serve within, the type and amount of nurture necessary for their growth and development is most effectively provided by a small team of people who have the gift of nurturing others and that have been specially trained and equipped to nurture missionaries.
Shepherd’s Staff refers to this small group of people as a Missionary Nurture Team…..and we’re convinced it’s an essential component of church-based Missionary Care.