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10 Ways for Churches to Help Missionaries Re-enter

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By Candice, RMM staff writer

When a worker comes home, what is the role of the local church? Here we offer a few suggestions for how you can lend support to returning workers in your congregation.

1

Logistical support with immediate needs. Your practical help is much appreciated. Workers might need your help finding a temporary vehicle or providing a short-term place to stay. If you want, you can collect some simple household items. Feel free to ask them what practical things they need. Just like having a baby or experiencing an illness, moving back from overseas is a huge transition. Providing a few meals during the first weeks or having them over for a meal can be a significant help to a returning family or single.

2

Ask questions about their adjustment and what they miss… and listen well. Give workers a place to talk about and process their experiences and their re-entry with you. They will need your empathy and at times, a place to grieve. The mix of emotions they are experiencing are at times overwhelming.

3

Give opportunity for sharing publically in church about their work
in order to help the worker process his/her experiences and connect with you by sharing them.

4

Pray for them. Asking them how you can pray will make returning mission workers feel loved and supported. Consider meeting in an ongoing way to pray depending on the spiritual and emotional needs of the worker.

5

Be a learner. Read about re-entry or talk to someone else who has re-entered previously.

6

Invite them back into your friendship circles. Remember, if they’ve been gone awhile, they may feel unsure of your friendship. Call them up, invite them out, and help them feel included. But also understand that at times, they may need space.

7

After a breather, give them a chance to use their gifts in your congregation, acknowledging that they may have changed and not fit into the same ministry roles they did before their assignment. Try to be open when possible to new perspectives they may have to offer. Be sensitive. Some returning workers may need the freedom to start something new. Work with them to discern God’s will for their next steps in ministry. Others may be burnt out and need some “time off” for healing.

8

Help short-term workers understand how their mission experience fits into fruitful kingdom work locally. Mentor them; affirming and nurturing their missionary passion.

9

Give them time. Try to be patient with them if adjustment seems slow. Remember they are “re-learning” culture in many ways.

10

Young people in the church who have cross-cultural backgrounds or missions experience can be a wonderful resource for returning children or youth. A TCK in re-entry needs someone to befriend them and try to relate to the cross-cultural part of them. Consider mentoring a TCK through their re-entry.


To learn more about how you can help returning missionary friends with their re-entry, read The Reentry Team: Caring for your Returning Missionaries by Neal Pirolo.