HOW TO HELP
Praying, giving and going are always the options. However, we need people to think more broadly and creatively than these three words first imply.
PRAYER- Regardless of whether you can give or go, you can pray!
•Praying daily as you stay tuned in to the work and reports of those who are going is vital.
•Lead your children to pray with you.
•Start a refugee prayer team. Enlist friends, neighbors and church members to join you in daily prayer but also in weekly corporate prayer gatherings over tea and coffee at a central location, church or home.
•Adopt a particular people group to pray for the salvation of, safety and provision for.
•Remind people to pray by creating clever crafts that prompt prayer (refrigerator magnets, book marks, etc.)
•Use social media to list a daily refugee prayer need so many will remember to keep a Kingdom focus in response to news media or current events concerning refugees/missionaries.
•Be ready and willing to be a "first responder" to spiritual warfare or crisis on the front lines as missionaries share immediate needs or concerns from the field.
GIVING- As you pray, be ready for God to lead you to give in many different ways.
•Monthly Support: We missionaries always need new monthly support. Attrition just happens. Supporters go through the same cycles of life that everyone else experiences, and this means that when 70-100 people are monthly supporting the work, some are bound to experience job loss, sickness, personal crisis or even die. God may be leading you to sacrifice from your personal income each month to invest in reaching refugees through missionary families involved full time. Don't give in to the lie that your amount wouldn't make a difference.
•Annual or Special Investments: There are always special costs outside of what the monthly support can pay for. Plane tickets back and forth to the United States or Europe aren't cheap. Mission trip expenses and leading teams to reach refugees almost always means missionaries are paying for things out of pocket, by faith. Setting aside in order to pay for those big expenses means missionaries spend more time focused on the work itself than in trying to raise the money to get to do the work. The laborers are few- too few to handle this refugee crisis, and there are many more who would serve if they felt they could afford it. Be creative:
•Offer to pay for some or all of the cost of flights for someone you know that may want to go and serve. You can also donate your air miles to that person's reservation.
•Encourage your local believers or prayer group to find a monthly creative way to raise money to support existing missionaries serving refugees or to send folks you know who can't afford to go. Don't discredit the power of the bake sale, but remember that even a 100 member church deciding to give $5 each toward an annual missions project means $6000!
•Encourage your local church to get behind missionaries financially through the church budget, and to set aside funding for those whom God would call out from among your congregation to go and serve for a week, month, year, and onward!
•Encourage church leadership to actually issue the missions call with the encouragement of financial backing for those whom God would send from among them.
•Discuss with those on the ground what the physical needs are of refugees in the area in which the missionaries you know are working. Then use your network to create a drive for those specific things. Ship those items to the missionaries to distribute directly or to the organizations the missionaries work through to be distributed according to their set procedures.
•Time is one of the most valuable resources that gets given the least! Donate to those serving the refugee crisis a set amount of hours weekly to just serve as needed as an advocate, admin, fundraiser, blogger, video editor, envelope stuffer, errand monkey, or whatever your talents may offer. Relieving missionaries of the menial tasks that keep them operational and funded means they get to do more disciple-making, communicating and refugee ministry.
•Encourage! Remember the families of missionaries and that they are just people like you. They are husbands, wives, children, fathers and mothers and go through the same emotional ups and downs and struggles as everyone else. So, don't just pray- tell them your are praying. •Send the occasional note with some uplifting Scripture and any specific ways you have felt led to lift them up.
•Send the occasional gift that perhaps a missionary wouldn't normally buy for themselves because they live on raised support- remember birthdays, marriage anniversaries and the holidays may not be as easy to do extra things for as it is for your family. Sometimes just getting to eat at a restaurant without the kids would be energizing enough to help missionaries be able to jump back into the most difficult of fields. •As missionaries become more aware of how refugees are settling into different locations across Europe and North America, the idea of adopting a refugee family will become more needed by the Church. Consider how you might be able to take on some of the burden of starting a new life for someone who has been fleeing to save it. Prompt missionaries on the ground- don't wait for them to come to you- that you would prayerfully consider investing in a person or family for a certain time and/or under certain conditions, and let the missionary have some discretion in how to best apply your generosity.
GOING- Just say YES! "The field is ready for harvest, but the laborers are few."
•Short Term Trips: Talk to the missionaries you know and find out when, where and who would be the biggest benefit and blessing to the work they are daily involved in. Far too often, people make the mission trip self-focused instead of service-focused. It isn't about when it fits with your schedule, whether the work needed is what you would have fun doing, or if the location is a place on your bucket list. It is about following Christ into His work, serving those who are already there daily, fitting into the vision God has already given them for how to go about best ministering to refugees God has called them to. You will most likely not be able to always make missions fit into your work, school or family schedules. God will honor your sacrifice.
•Don't just go- take others with you. I get phone calls and emails often from individuals that want to go and serve for a week here or there. My initial response is always to ask them if they can form a team. Try to imagine the logistical issues, but more so consider that God did not prompt you toward this without wanting to use you in and with your believing community as well! Jesus often displaced His disciples in order to disciple them. Bring the folks you have been pouring into and go deeper together!
•Serving a little longer:
•To make disciples that make disciples, that is our goal. This means that there must be people on the ground who can spend more than a week or two investing into refugees' lives. God may be calling you to spend a month or even a year of your family's lives serving alongside missionaries in some of the destination locations like Cologne, Germany. This really is the greatest need!
Thank you for taking some time to read this. It is by no means exhaustive. What are some ways you, your family or your church are getting involved?