So what is it that YOU wanted for Christmas? (Please don’t say for the pandemic to end, though that was probably on the list for many this year!) Some of you probably have items from Amy Grant’s Grown-Up Christmas list song just dancing through your mind…no more lives torn apart, wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts. Those are just a few of the items that most adults might add to their list, if it were truly possible to receive such magnificent presents. No surprise they didn’t end up under your tree, huh? Maybe those things are just too difficult to fathom as being anything that would even be possible, but there are some gifts that can be given to missionaries that would bring almost as much joy!
Churches across the United States celebrated Christmas in the final days of 2020, and maybe they did think about the missionaries they support. Maybe they did consider what could be given to a missionary who has been far away from home, or perhaps far away from ministry locations if stuck in the USA on furlough due to the pandemic. Often times those gifts to missionaries involve an end of the year check being written. Either way, Christmas is a wonderful time to remember the missionaries, but just in case they might not have gotten everything on their list, these gifts can be wrapped up any time of the year!
All they (the missionaries) wanted for Christmas…
1. Someone to remember them. It IS the thought that counts. The good news is that any time of the year counts too! Christmas is a great time to send some thoughts of cheer, but if Christmas has already come and gone, January is a quiet month after the hustle and bustle of the season. Reach out to a missionary or two each month of the year and remind them that the church is praying for them! Everyone treasures being remembered.
2. Something extra special. Most missionaries are on a very tight budget. After all, most of them have to raise the funds that they use to live and support themselves. They end up raising their very own vacation money! What about an extra special gift like some funds to use for a night away in a hotel or a special meal that they would have to splurge to receive? What about a scheduled rest time at a retreat center in the USA that is structured specifically for overseas workers? (See below for a list of resources on this.)
3. The opportunity to send greetings. That’s right…this Christmas list item is not about receiving. Rather, it is about giving/sending! Missionaries love the chance to share a brief testimony via video, zoom, or even a written word with the churches and individuals that support them. Invite them to record something for an upcoming service, an upcoming social media post, or a written newsletter. They will LOVE to receive the opportunity to share with the congregation what God is doing on the mission field, and it doesn’t even require wrapping!
4. A new prayer partner Missionaries don’t just say that they love the prayers of their supporters. They literally know their lives and ministries depend on those prayers. Offer the congregation a challenge to sign up to pray for one new missionary, and then have the members contact the missionaries with a few words of prayer. This is definitely a brightly-wrapped, shiny, bow-on-top gift that they would love to receive!
5. News from home Missionaries don’t always hear about the latest death in the church family or the newest restaurant that has come to town or the fact that the local high school just started planning a new renovation. News from home is precious to someone who is far, far away. Not everything makes it onto social media, and sometimes the little details of life can bring “home” to someone quite far away from home. This Christmas list item won’t even cost a dollar, just a little time.
It is NEVER too late to give a gift! It is not common to find someone who rejects a belated gift. If a church has missed the Christmas rush, it is never too late to bless missionaries with something that just might be a real item on their grown-up Christmas list. Be a part of making dreams come true and choose to bless them today.
Kirsten McClain serves as a Church Missions Consultant with OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various free resources that OMF uses to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well. firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources related to retreat centers as listed in number two above can be found HERE