The world is a dangerous place. Missionaries leave everything familiar behind and venture into a strange place to start a new ministry. This place could be in the United States or in a foreign country. Personal stories have inspired Tony Hahn to come up with the idea of Project: Encourage.
Project: Encourage is a prayer and letter writing movement where he hopes that groups in all churches will write letters and pray for their church-supported missionaries. Here are some guidelines to help you form a group in your area, and some suggestions if you are forming an independent group or parachurch small group:
- Contact your local church or missionary agency for a listing of all church-supported missionaries, or if from a missionary agency, a listing of missionaries you are looking to support. You’ll need email and mailing address, plus any security guidelines in writing to them.
- Form a small group within your church’s small group ministry (i.e. Fellowship Group, Life Groups, Small Groups, or Mini-Churches) with one meeting dedicated to only missionaries and prayer for missionaries.
- Contact the missionaries and let them know you are doing this. Helpful questions include: (1) How often do you check your mail? Depending upon their security requirements words like Christian, prayer, or any other words may have to be omitted. If they check their mail once every two months, you may want to consider sending that missionary one letter every two months. Abide by their suggestions. Don’t require them to write back. This is for them to be encouraged by your prayers and words.
- Meeting as a group: You can meet as a group monthly, bi-monthly, or even weekly. The leader receives the letters and summarizes them to the group while the group puts a message on a letter or postcard that the leader will mail out the following week. After letters or postcards are done and summarizing are done, the leader begins prayer time. This is a prayer time for only the missionaries. No personal prayers typical of small group gatherings.
- International postage is about $1 per letter or postcard under an ounce, depending upon where you send it in the world. If money is a problem, consider scanning the letter or postcard into an email attachment instead.
- Make sure that your email subject is catchy.
- Too many emails per month and your email may be unread.
- Print your own postcards.
- Print a letter-sized graphic with lots of white space around it per missionary. This way the group can sign and write a message around the graphic you created. Instead of sending out lots of postcards to one missionary; one missionary will receive a letter signed and messaged by your entire small group.
- The graphic can be a picture of something from home with some kind of encouraging scripture on it.
- Keep it less than an ounce.
In spite of the popularity of email, people still appreciate something hand-mailed. So, if possible, hand-mail your letters so the missionaries receive something they can hold that will encourage them on the journey.