The most effective way to encourage missionaries over the holidays is to pray for them.
There are two reasons I’m writing this article. First, I want you, your family, and your Small Group to be able to intelligently pray for missionaries during the holidays. Secondly, I’m writing because the holidays, for missionaries, can be very difficult.
Why the Holidays are Difficult for Missionaries
What do Americans enjoy about the holiday season? Some of your favorites likely include family get-togethers, parties with friends, decorating your tree, gifts, good food, beautiful snow, Christmas movies, looking at the lights, enjoying time off work, and special church services.
Now think about what missionaries have given up during this season to be overseas. They give up proximity to family and friends. This also means that they’re not usually able to exchange gifts with those they love, at least in the way we are accustomed to. For missionaries, the scenery—whether decorations or snow—is quite different. And while you are likely enjoying some time off, missionaries are not. They are usually more busy with evangelistic activities during the holidays.
These considerations don’t even include possible broken families, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or culture stress—all of which can accentuate the pain of loss during this time of year.
There’s a very real danger here. It could be very easy to try to alleviate those legitimate losses with attempts to undo or diminish them. That’s dangerous because doing so could very easily create or deepen covetousness, envy, or misplaced trust. It’s also dangerous because trying to alleviate those losses will just defer and deepen disappointment.
How to Pray
Here are a few ways to pray for missionaries during the holiday season.
- Ask God to help missionaries think about and rejoice in the second advent
- Ask God to energize missionaries to use the holidays for the sake of the gospel, and for God to draw people to himself
- Ask God to give missionaries joy and peace in knowing him through the fellowship of believers
- Thank God for specific things you know about what he’s doing in missionaries (and feel free to let them know!)
- Ask God to protect missionaries from despondency and frustrated envy, and ask him to forgive and cleanse them when they fall prey to those temptations