Friday, November 5, 2010

Letters to Missionaries

For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; for I know your readiness, (2 Corinthians 9:1-2a)

Writing a LetterI used to write at least a snail mail once every fortnight to a group of missionaries. Even when I did not receive regular reply from them, I continued to write because I knew it was quite impossible to expect missionaries in the fields to write back frequently. That was many years ago, before the keyboard took over the pen to become the main instrument for letter writing.

More than one of the missionaries I wrote to had expressed how such handwritten letters meant to them in bringing comfort while they were away from their relatives and friends. One particular missionary told me she was able to observe how I had improved in my writing over the years and grown in faith in the way I encouraged them. When I visited the mission site later, this same missionary conversed with me as though we had never been very far apart from each other over the years. This is what letter writing is all about—closing the gap between distances while building rapport and relationship even when physically absent.

In an article on 'Ten Ways to Encourage a Missionary' at TheGospelCoalition.org, a question was asked as to how missionaries would most like to be served and encouraged. In response, a missionary wrote to describe how he felt about receiving handwritten mails:

"Real mail is always special. Really, the thing with real mail is more than just getting some nice stuff from home (which is nice), but it seems a more tangible reminder that the people I love and miss love and miss me too and are thinking of me."

As Christians, we have a common faith that draws us together even when we are far away, and letter writing is one good way we can show and express our care for those serving abroad. Although e-mail can serve the same purpose in writing to people vast distance apart and providing faster delivery, it can never replace handwritten letters when bridging the gap between hearts. This is because e-mail lacks the personal touch expressed in handwriting.

The Bible in 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 describes what it means by ministry to the saints. It is not just about supplying the needs of the saints, but also about the proof of our obedience in confessing the gospel of Christ and the liberality of our contribution to the saints serving abroad (2 Corinthians 9:1, 9, 12-13). We should therefore not wane in our ministry to the saints, for the administration of such service glorifies God. We ought also not to neglect encouraging one another to build each other up, but should appreciate and esteem highly those who diligently labor among us in love because of their work (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13).

Let us therefore—besides writing emails—not stop writing snail or real mails to those serving abroad, for it is a tangible way of expressing our care in reminding them they are loved and missed. We should instead encourage and show them love with a personal touch by penning down letters in our own handwriting. We need not wait for a reply before sending our next mail because it is more difficult for them than for us to have the time to do so. Rather than feel dejected because of the lack of responses, let us be assured and know without a doubt that every word we write to encourage them is edifying and appreciated. Only in this way can we then close the gap between distances and continue to build rapport and relationship even when absent.

Thank You dear Lord for the gift of letter writing and for providing us a communication mode that offers real personal touch to the ones serving You abroad. Grant us Lord the willingness to be Your instrument in closing the gap between distances to build rapport and relationship with them as one body in Christ. Put in us Lord the desire to encourage and minister to the saints in love and appreciation for their diligent labor and work in You.


NOTE: Not all mission sites are reachable by snail mail. Wherever possible and safe to do so, let us therefore do our part to minister to the saints and missionaries out of love.

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