On Monday I wrote the first post in this two part series as an introduction and the initial five ways that I suggest one can help a returning missionary. Today I would like to offer an additional five ways. This list in no way is exhaustive, but based on interviews, research, and first hand experience.
6. Provide temporary housing.
Sure, many people will have the option to stay with some of their extended family members when they return like my family did, but lets be real here, who wants to stay with their family for more than a few weeks? There are Christians out there with huge homes with empty rooms that could easily host a family for a few weeks. There are Christians that have been very successful that own vacation homes that sit empty a good part of the year too, why not take something God has blessed you with and use it as a way to serve others in the family of God.
7. Provide a temporary vehicle.
Getting from point A to point B is a real need in most American contexts unless you are in a handful of the largest cities. Loaning out an extra car to a returning missionary family is a huge blessing and takes a large burden off of them. This allows them to get around town, make appointments, catch up with family and friends, and to make all of their interviews.
8. Provide a job.
Overseas missionaries leave everything behind, including jobs and the opportunity to advance further in their careers. This can leave them behind in their field upon return to the U.S. Finding a job was one of the most difficult things I experienced once returning. My resume was outdated, I had moved overseas and foregone the opportunity to advance in marketing and public relations, which left me at a entry level job at best. And people were skeptical because of the length of time since I had graduated.
I have a few thoughts on how jobs could be provided for returning missionaries. First, if the church that sent out the missionary is hiring for any position that they are qualified to fill then they should be amongst first considered. I am not saying that you have to hire them, but I do think that you should give them serious consideration. Second, if the church is large enough with a large enough budget then they could create a role even if temporary for them to fill. Third, the church should gather a list of business owners and managers from local businesses that will at least offer to interview the returning individuals and once again hire them if they qualify. Fourth, your local church can have a list of temporary employee opportunities such as handyman work, childcare, etc. Fifth, the church could save up and give a lump sum of money to help the returning family in the transition period and as they look for work.
Included in this is section is helping them pick out appropriate interview attire, resume help, mock interviews, etc.
9. Learn from them.
This may seem like a funny way to help them, but in my experience people that have served overseas have a very different and often times more biblical perspective on life and ministry. The world is seen in a different light and many of the returning missionaries from my tribe have been serving in the least reached areas of the world and seeing disciples made in a way most American Christians will never experience. Be willing to take a dose of humility and listen and learn from them.
10. Pray for them.
Come on now, did you really think that as a pastor and former missionary that I was going to leave out prayer? But when I say, "pray for them," I really mean pray for them. Now, don't just use this as a cop out of all of the other nine suggested ways to help and only "pray" that God will meet their needs when God has put you into their life to help meet them! Lay hands on them at a Sunday gathering and really pray for them. Ask them how you can pray for them as individuals and a family. And follow up with how God may be using you in their life to also help meet those prayer needs.
What are some additional ways in which you would suggest helping returning missionaries?