Surprise. A little of your time could make a big difference for missionaries serving abroad. Here’s how. Posted on September 13, 2019September 17, 2019 by Peter Meadows We all know that missionaries serving abroad are making incredible sacrifices. But what if there was a simple way you could ease their load, make their work more fruitful, and their lives more liveable – from right where you are. Well it’s possible. It’s already happening. And it offers a wonderful way to invest even a small amount of your time and talent. Can you post a magazine? Drive? Search the internet? Have a spare bed for a night or two? Audio type? These abilities – and more – are waiting to be used to bless those taking Jesus to the nations. It’s not time-consuming or complicated. But the impact can be significant. Making this possible is a remarkable Christian charity, MissionAssist. For the past 30-years they have been coordinating home-based volunteers to provide free services for those sent by their church in some aspect of Christian mission. Sarah J McQuay, MissionAssist’s Director of Services explains, ‘Now nearly 700 volunteers are using their abilities and skills to help those working abroad. Some are able to offer several hours a week and others only one or two. But all are vital in serving world mission and making Jesus known.’ What do you have to offer? The needs are amazingly varied. Everything from posting a magazine to keyboarding and audio typing. Short-term hospitality to researching. Airport pickups to translating. And more. This even includes more than 100 volunteers keyboarding old and fragile scripture translations to serve a team producing modern digital files for correction and reprinting. From all the many opportunities waiting for you, let me highlight just three – with some examples of the kind of impact they can make. Magazine Service Can you imagine the ‘lift’ a mission worker far from home gets when a copy of their favourite publication arrives by post? Or the joy of their children when a much-missed comic is unwrapped? MissionAssist link the magazine requests of missionaries with volunteers who can help. Do you subscribe to, or receive with a membership, any magazine or journal that goes into the paper recycling bin after you have read it? Would you be willing to post that on instead? Alternatively, could you take out a subscription specifically so a mission worker or family member could regularly receive what they would really appreciate? Right now MissionAssist’s waiting list includes children in the Solomon Islands who would love to receive National Geographic Kids. A woman serving in Papua New Guinea who’d welcome Fibromyalgia Magazine. And a paragliding/hang gliding enthusiast in Papua New Guinea longing for Skywings and Cross Country magazines. It may not seem like much but such gifts are deeply appreciated. Feedback includes – ‘This gift has become a double one. Having read the magazine I then pass them on to an English Language school so their students can enjoy and learn from them. Thank you.’ ‘My mailbox was holding two issues of the RSPB magazine Nature’s Home sent by a volunteer. Such a welcome treat.’ Airport Transport Providing returning mission personnel with transport from an airport is one of MissionAssist’s most valued services. This is especially true in exceptional circumstances. For example, when a missionary family serving an African country failed to have their visas renewed they had to leave almost immediately. However, instead of being stranded at Heathrow, a volunteer couple met them, briefly looked after them at home before driving them to friends to stay while arrangements for onward travel were made. MissionAssist’s volunteer coordinator links advance requests from mission personnel to a volunteer driver in reach of the airport. And there’s an urgent need for more such volunteer drivers. The main demand is for Heathrow – with occasional requests for Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham and Bristol. It is usual for volunteer drivers to receive a contribution towards their expenses. The other help for traveling missionaries comes from volunteers providing a Meet and Greet service at airports and train stations. And, again, more are needed to smooth the way by helping with questions, luggage and locating the transport for their onward journey. Sometimes it’s not just a lone traveller or family in need of help. MissionAssist recently coordinated the arrival of 70 mission conference delegates arriving at various times. Putting them at ease, find the railway station and buy a ticket for their onward journey. Hospitality Missionaries back in the UK for a spell sometimes need a place to lay their head for a short time. It might be overnight before a flight, for a few days during a training event, or as a whole family needing a place to stay. MissionAssist links volunteers to those in need. And for missionaries on a limited income this can be a significant help. As one said, ‘This hospitality is a huge blessing to people like us who can’t afford to stay at a B&B.’’ Such is the demand that more volunteers are needed, especially for London and South East England where the need is greatest – even for those only able to offer a night or two. But there’s a vision to be able to offer accommodation over the whole of the United Kingdom. So, wherever you live, they would love to hear from you. Your next step? There are far more opportunities to help than are listed here. Contact MissionAssist and they will match what you can offer to the needs and opportunities they have waiting. This is no casual arrangement. MissionAssist volunteers sign an agreement concerning confidentiality and having their data stored. This means they can also be made aware of other opportunities to help as they arise. If you have a heart for mission and some time and resources to spare this could be a great opportunity. And here’s the link you need – MissionAssist. Is there a way you are supporting world mission by your actions? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you. Peter Meadows Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.