How to help those who stay behind

When mission partners head overseas the cost of separation isn’t just felt by them. Parents, siblings and other family members bear the burden too. Christmas can be especially challenging – as most people spend extended time with their wider families, relations of mission partners will be noticing the empty spot at the dinner table. COVID restrictions have meant that many mission partners haven’t seen family members for over two years. Some have had to cancel trips to the UK last minute as travel limitations were reimposed. 

The support and care you show to the families of mission partners can make a difference. Whether they’re Christians or not, the love shown by church family can really help those who are struggling. For unbelieving relatives, care from church partners can be an invaluable witness for the gospel.

We think there are at least six ways you can show your support to family members left behind. Why not reach out to anyone at your church who has family serving overseas or link up with the family members of the mission partners you support? 

  1. Pray for them. Pray for the Lord’s protection over those serving overseas and their family members back home. Pray that he will give comfort and peace of mind throughout long periods of separation. Pray that they will be able to connect with loved ones despite the distance. 
  2. Help practically. This is particularly useful when parents are more elderly. Being away from ageing parents is often a reason mission partners decide to return from overseas. If church family is on hand to help with day-to-day needs, mission partners will know they can worry less. Consider starting an informal support group of people who can share out responsibilities.  
  3. Be willing to talk. Let them share the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows. Showing an interest and recognising the struggle will show you care and give them a chance to offload if needed. 
  4. Ask questions. This will show the mission partner’s family that you haven’t forgotten about their relative now they are overseas. Ask how the mission partner is doing, what they’re up to, if there is any news to share.  
  5. Remember special occasions. Christmas is a particularly challenging time but also remember birthdays and the days and weeks following a visit to overseas family members. Make sure they’re not alone and have company when they want it. 
  6. Help financially. Most mission partners can’t come back to the UK more than once every three years and many of their family members won’t be able to afford to visit them. If you have spare airline miles or can afford to contribute to flight costs, helping to buy a plane ticket could be a great way to help. 

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