How to Support Missionaries

Mission work has a long history. The Apostle Paul, for example, served a mission calling. Our heavenly Father incredibly and miraculously provided for him and other Christian missionaries throughout history. God has not changed how he sends or sustains missionaries. There remains a Christian responsibility towards missionaries, which is to send them (Romans 10:15). To consider supporting missionary workers is not esteeming the work they do higher than other things a Christian could do, e.g., holding a corporate job, running a business, or serving on staff with a church. Supporting a missionary is simply being faithful to our shared Christian mandate, which is to witness for Christ to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Missionary support does not only involve monetary support. In this article, we will explore other ways of supporting missionaries.

Praying with Missionaries

The mission field is a hard ground to plough. The challenges missionaries face as they choose to immerse themselves more in the unreached people groups and areas of great resistance are gruelling and warrant prayers. In 1 Thessalonians 5:25, Paul wrote a simple plea, “Brothers, pray for us.” 

On many occasions, Paul would request believers to pray for him, which is one way we can support missionaries. 

  1. He asked for the effectiveness of God’s word as he preached and for his deliverance from the unbelievers who resisted the work (2 Thessalonians 3:1). 
  2. Paul encouraged believers to strive with him in prayer that his service would be acceptable to the saints (Romans 15:30-32), even in the simplest of matters, such as how to speak. 
  3. Paul needed help praying that he would be faithful to the scriptures and for doors to be opened for him to share the gospel even more (Colossians 4:2-4). 
  4. He requested prayer for boldness in his proclamation (Ephesians 6:19-20), as is the case sometimes when missionaries suffer intimidation and death threats. We are to pray that they would have the courage to proclaim that Christ alone is the true master amidst many earthly ones. 

When we pray, we should desire that our Father, who art in heaven, would do his will on earth as it is in heaven, which is that all may be saved (Romans 10:15; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). Our brothers and sisters who labour faithfully on the field have been placed there for nothing else but that his will would be done. In one missionary home I visited, the dining room and the corridor walls were lined with framed prayers for unreached people groups, encouraging guests to pray for their salvation. 

Missionaries can sometimes be tempted to lean on their own strength to win souls. They might also be lured into keeping count of how many they have ‘successfully’ led to Christ, which may render their labour vain. Calling, texting, or emailing them and praying with them helps encourage them to look to Christ. Loving them enough to present their burdens to our Lord in prayer is an excellent way to support missionaries. 

Freewill Giving

The nature and demands of the mission field often make it such that most missionaries cannot hold to another job and thus must depend on gifts from believers. Yet missionary needs far exceed the mythical backpack often touted as all they need to get by.

As our local churches send them, 3 John 5-8 shows how we can play a role: “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”

First, we see that the support is for strangers sent by God for the sake of the gospel. The implication is that our giving shouldn’t be on any other basis, such as friendship or other close relations, for then we would fall prey to favouritism in our giving. Also, the manner of sending is considered worthy, going so far as to implore us to be fellow workers for the gospel (the truth) by participating in giving.

We who believe should give generously in kind and financially to support missionaries. It is not a racial skew; a white man affiliation, as though the dollar alone is what’s valuable to the work. Our weak economies and all other excuses we may have notwithstanding, we as Africans should be found on the frontlines when it comes to taking the gospel to fellow Africans and other nationalities. 

We should see that missionaries lack nothing (Titus 3:13). Through these earthly vessels, the Lord works his eternal good so that many may hear the gospel and be saved. We need no convincing to support their work. We do not require a moving story to understand missionaries’ needs. We only need to trust that their work is of God and become partakers of the same by supporting their needs (Titus 3:14). 

Our giving should not be in such a manner that others may see or in grumbling (Philippians 2:14). Instead, we ought to give cheerfully and selflessly (2 Corinthians 8:3), knowing that our inheritance is in heaven and not here where whatever we would accumulate is but fleeting and prone to moth and rust (Matthew 6:19-21). 

Hosting and Spending Time with Missionaries

Missionaries are unintended loners. They leave the comfort of familiar grounds, go through cultural conflicts in integrating with communities and different lifestyles, as well as face discrimination for the sake of Christ. We are admonished by Scripture to be hospitable and create a godly environment while doing it, which is one of the means of grace God has provided (1 Peter 4:9-10).

I recently visited a friend who is single and has moved into a two-bedroom house. Her aim, she says, is to have extra room and space to host–an open-door policy for missionary hosting. The additional room had clean towels, bedding, two beds, sleeping wear, toothbrushes, and more. I know of others who have ventured to furnish houses specifically for missionaries as a means of welcoming them. A brother marrying soon will benefit from this facility as he and his wife-to-be will be hosted there for six months as they start their journey in marriage. What a grace!

Missionaries benefit from the comfort of godly communities with whom they can share their troubles. Paul sent Epaphroditus to rest and be served by fellow believers. In his work for the Lord, he had fallen ill, even close to death, and Paul urged the Philippian brethren to honour him upon his return (Philippians 2:27-30). Missionaries would savour meals and refreshing conversations after a long while in the field. A listening ear would encourage and push them forward in their perseverance. Care must be exercised, though, so as not to overwhelm, even to deny them time to rest.

Sending Selflessly

It is easier for church members to take pride in having missionaries in their midst but never play a role in their sending. Most of us have fallen prey to this. I encourage you to welcome discomfort by inconveniencing yourself to share in their needs (Galatians 6:10). Pursuing to build relationships with them would help you know how best to support them. 

The Lord has established us as parts of a body so that there may be no division. As such, we are to care for one another. If one member, in this case a missionary, suffers, we all suffer together; if a missionary is honoured, all rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

*Check out more on the topic of “Missions” by downloading the Kuza App and then reading the “Missions” devotional series. Just click “devotions” and then scroll down to find the “missions.”



The Deceitfulness of Sin

As human beings, we often fall into sin. We…

The Deceitfulness of Sin

Why Christian Marriage?

There are many marriage options in Kenya. Among them…

Why Christian Marriage?

Healing From Emotional Abuse

Many people are struggling with emotional abuse and desire…

Healing From Emotional Abuse

Skip to content