When I was a teenager, my family moved overseas. It was difficult to leave my friends behind, but it was even more challenging to go to a country where everything was different! Not only did I have to make new friends at a new school, but I had to learn new cultural norms and get around in a city where nobody spoke my language.
It is not easy for families to move across cultures for ministry and those who serve in difficult places can feel very lonely. God provides a support system for those who bring the good news of Jesus to new areas–the church. It is just as if the entire body of Christ moves with them. Romans 10:14-15 says, “How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” People who partner with those who go are called “senders.”
Becoming a sending family is a practical way to support cross-cultural workers: physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Through sending, we demonstrate that they are included in a loving community and that their ministry matters to us. In today’s world of technology, it is easy to get and stay connected to a family serving in another culture. It just requires intentionality and some planning and forethought.
If your family already knows of or financially supports cross-cultural workers, this is a natural place to start because there is already common experiences and relationship. If not, ask your pastor or mission leader for suggestions, or reach out to a mission agency you are familiar with. Ask them to connect you to a family whose children are similar ages to your own.
Use email to contact the parents. Request to begin receiving their prayer newsletter. In addition, ask details about their lives and their ministry. Connect your own kids with their children by finding out more about them: what are some of their favorite things? Discuss the best way for the children to begin ongoing communication with each other. Email is easy, but be aware of security issues and always monitor and assist your children in these activities. Use them as an opportunity to teach your children how to ask and answer questions and be a real friend to a boy or girl whose family serves in another culture.
Having a supervised Skype chat can be another fun way for children to connect. Let each child showcase their home, their favorite toys, and where they go to school, if possible. Pray together! Having connections like this can help make it easier for the children to build a friendship. After each chat, have a conversation with your children about what they saw and what life might be like for the kids they are getting to know. Lead your children in praying for the family, their ministry, and any specific requests.
Have your children pick out small age-appropriate gifts or draw a picture to send in a care package to the family. Add in items that the family cannot easily get in their host country like special snacks, coffee, or a specific ministry or schooling resource that they could use. Handwritten letters are a delight to receive in the mail for all ages! Send birthday and anniversary cards.
Moving to and living in another part of the world can be challenging. Children of cross-cultural workers often feel like they never quite belong. Having a friend who wants to know about them and their life can be very special. And when they come back home, they will already have an instant friend to connect with!
About the Author: Fueled by a passion to see God’s name made known to all the nations, Alicia is an author, teacher, mobilizer, and mom empowering the youngest generation to take up the mantle of faith and run the race well. Follow her @mobilizermom on Instagram.