There are a few things I am passionate about, and missions is one of those areas. It mostly has to do with my background: growing up on the mission field, seeing firsthand what amazing things God is doing in other coutnries, and how much more still needs to be done.
One of my desires is to raise my kids to be missions-focused. I have been thinking about the best ways to do that, while Paul and I don't necessarily feel that God is leading us to the mission field right now. However, that doesn't mean we have to be silent! Here are some ways I've thought about:
• Support missionaries regularly and actively. We have several friends who are missionaries, both in the United States and to other countries. Not only do we send a check, but we actively pray for them and we write to them, showing interest in their work and trying to encourage them whenever possible.
• Put a world map up in the dining room. Hang missionary's prayer cards around the map, using yarn or string to draw a line from their picture to the place on the map where they are serving. Use this as a reminder to pray for missionaries and God's people around the world before dinner each night. (And throughout the day!)
• Send care packages to those on the mission field, especially those abroad. Not only are they much appreciated, it's always good to get a little taste of home! Besides, it tells the missionaries that you care about them and that encourages them so much.
• Go on a short term missions trip to a third world country. I think this is an incredible way to get out of your comfort zone and widen your horizons. The Mormons require all of their members to spend a couple of years as a missionary and I wish we did that too! Imagine what a difference that would make in our heats, being open to where God would have us serve.
• Open your home to visiting missionaries. Most missionaries return to their home country on furlough every 4 years or so. They use this time to raise support and funds, further schooling, reconnect with family and friends, etc. They usually spend large amounts of time on the road, visiting and speaking in churches. I want to regularly have missionaries over for dinner and staying with us as necessary, to get a chance to fellowship with them.
• Get involved with local missions and charity outreaches. While third world countries may struggle more with poverty and lack of education, first world countries are not exempt from these issues! There are many organizations that seek to minister to the physical and spiritual needs right in our hometown! Committing your time to help in these areas is a great way to be a missionary yourself.
• Join the missions board or missions committee at church. This can be a great opportunity to help the entire church body be more active in missions.
• Pray, pray, pray! There are so many countries around the world that need Christ, and so many hurting people. A GREAT resource that I highly recommend is the book "Operation World" by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk.
Jesus prays for all believers: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me." John 17:20-21There are many different types of great missions and organizations, but for me personally I am partial to Bible translation. Therefore, I am going to do a little plug for Wycliffe Bible Translators. They have some great ways of how you can get involved in missions on their website, as well as some specific areas of prayer. I am excited to be able to take the ways God has blessed me and reciprocate them to others who need it. Isn't God amazing how He uses us to fulfill the needs of those around us? I am constantly blown away by it... But I've mentioned this before. :-)