Here’s a simple yet creative idea for a mission prayer meeting. Don’t just do the same old boring thing of praying through each paragraph of a newsletter. Do something a bit more original. Take a selection of common items you’d find about the house. Ask yourself what they represent, and if it might look different from your mission worker’s perspective. Pray into it. Here are some simple examples you could use.
Mobile phone – this represents their ability to communicate. Whether writing or phoning home, communicating with locals in their language or dealing with colleagues in a third language, mission workers often have difficulty in understanding and making themselves understood.
Toilet roll – we don’t need to go into details but life in a country your immune system didn’t grow up in can be full of nasty diseases.
Car keys – in many parts of the world roads are even worse than Devon’s! Vehicles may not be up to safety standards and there are no working time directives limiting the hours professional drivers spend behind the wheel. Travelling, whether by car, bus, motorbike or cycle can be hazardous.
Bottle of water – we take utilities for granted but many mission workers live in parts of the world where the power can go off for days at a time, or there is no running water.
Family photograph – many mission workers are separated from loved ones. Children may be at boarding school, or elderly parents may be left behind at home.
Chillies - the food is often very different from back home, and can take a lot of getting used to. Some people may have allergies to particular types of local food, or may be unable to get food they need such as gluten-free.
Fan - many mission workers live where the weather is extreme, and for some seasons of the year almost unbearable.
Bible - the reality of life on the mission field is that mission workers can become spiritually dry. They may be engaged in spiritual battles and face great opposition, or the spiritual dynamic of the dominant religion may have an impact on them.
Wedding ring – marriages come under great strain on the mission field, as one partner may have a vision for being there, and the other is tagging along, or perhaps one does better with the language with the other lagging behind. Conversely, there are also pressures of a different kind on singles in the mission field.
Bowl – in many countries beggars are everywhere, and foreigners can stand out as targets. It can be easy to get compassion fatigues, or to be worn down by the constant high profile.
Dictionary – mission workers usually need to learn a second language, and sometimes a third. This can be time-consuming and daunting for those who are not naturally gifted at it.
Passport - paperwork is a continual problem. Visas, work permits, driving licences, residence permits all have to be obtained (without resorting to corrupt expedients) and periodically renewed. This can be emotionally demanding, with many repeat visits to crowded government offices where you can queue for hours to find that the person you need to talk to is not there.
Credit card – money is frequently a source of stress for mission workers. Most of us rely on the divinely-inspired generosity of a small group of supporters to provide for the often quite substantial ministry costs we have. Sometimes we have to leave the mission field for financial reasons alone.
Book - many mission workers use their professional skills as theologians, medics or educationalists, and need to keep their knowledge and qualifications up to date. Yet finding time to read academic journals, let alone take CPD courses in the midst of a demanding role can be very difficult.
Toy - children can suffer in the mission field, and that has a huge impact on the parents. Without support, children can easily become the mission worker’s Achilles heel.
DVD - mission workers need to relax too! Yet often they find they have too much work, or feel guilty if they stop to enjoy themselves.
Office ID card – for many mission workers, the single biggest source of stress is their colleagues. Often coming from a variety of cultures, with a common language that they aren’t all gifted in, and with a variety of church backgrounds and missiological viewpoints, it can be extremely hard to form a team in which everyone gets on well. Arguments and even personal disputes can become commonplace.
Please use this information to pray into the situations of the mission workers you support. The advantage of this method is that you can use it to pray anywhere, anytime, for your mission workers. For example, if you’re waiting for a bus, look around you and seek inspiration. What do you see? Cars – pray for your mission worker’s safe travel in a world where roads and transportation may not be as good as ours. A dog – pray for safety from being bitten by rapid dogs, or mosquitos, or lions. A pillar box – pray for their good communication with family, church and friends back home.
Try this way of praying for mission workers and your prayer life may never quite be the same again!