Ways to assist returning IMB missionaries
    October 6 2015 by Chuck Lawless, Guest Column

    I seldom write a post that relates only to my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, but this one does (though believers of many denominations could help with the needs listed in this post). I love missionaries, and many I know are now making prayerful decisions about retiring from the field. These are heart-wrenching days, and I encourage Southern Baptists to consider ways to assist these folks who’ve given their lives for the nations.

    1. Give God a blank check. That’s been the theme of International Mission Board president, David Platt. If these missionaries are giving God a blank check and asking Him to fill in their calling, all of us need to do the same. My wife and I are praying, “Lord, we want to help retiring missionaries. Fill in the check to show us how.” I’m convinced Southern Baptist believers, local churches, institutions, entities, associations and state conventions should do the same.

    2. Pray for the missionaries. Many are right now asking the question, “Lord, what do you want us to do?” I know many of these folks. They’re some of the godliest people I’ve ever met, and I have no doubt they want to do whatever God wants. Pray He would give them clarity – and then provide for them as they follow Him wherever He leads.

    3. Contact the International Mission Board’s “transition team” to learn more. Several former missionaries and staff are ready to connect missionaries with churches, institutions, and people who want to assist. You can contact that team at transitionteam@imb.org.

    4. Provide housing. If you have empty missionary houses, unrented apartments or condos, or open vacation homes, make them available for some time for these missionaries.

    5. Give up a car. Perhaps you have a seldom-used vehicle available. Or maybe you can even purchase one to donate so a returning missionary won’t need to buy an automobile. 

    6. Provide ministry jobs. Obviously, this issue is the big one. If your church or institution is seeking someone to join your staff, remember that hundreds of veteran missionaries will be available within the next several months. Don’t limit your search to stateside candidates only. In fact, you might consider waiting a few months before making a decision to see if God might connect you with a returning missionary.

    7. Provide other jobs. Many of our personnel have skills beyond ministry-related skills, and they bring talent, experience and a Christian spirit to the room. Their very presence in your company can make a difference.

    8. If your church is affiliated with a Christian school, reduce costs for the offspring of returning missionaries. Every tuition discount will help globally-minded parents who want their children and teens to be educated in a Christian school – and having the global perspective of these students will strengthen your school.

    9. If your church has a counseling service, make that service available. Most transitions are difficult at some point. This one will include not only leaving people and countries that are dearly loved, but also returning to an American culture that is itself overwhelming. For some of these folks, simply having the opportunity to talk to somebody might be important.

    10. Sacrificially give through your local church. Financial realities have led to this voluntary retirement offer. My wife and I have, I believe, given sacrificially over the years through our tithes and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Yet, have we given as sacrificially as we should have? That’s a question we are now asking.

    11. Pray again for all of our missionaries. Even those who remain on the field will be saying “good-byes” to mentors, leaders, friends, “aunts” and “uncles.” They usually understand that heartache because of the nature of their work, but the large scale of these decisions will likely compound the anguish. 

    12. Remember that the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) is still in effect. I realize this last point sounds almost contradictory to the rest of this post, but I can’t ignore either reality: many missionaries will retire, and we’re still called to take the gospel to the nations. The God who calls us will also help us figure out how to get there.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – This article first appeared at Chuck Lawless’s personal blog, chucklawless.com. Visit the site and subscribe to receive new articles. Used by permission.)

    10/6/2015 1:04:37 PM by Chuck Lawless, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: IMB, missionaries, SBC

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