by Charles Chapman
Candidate Development Specialist for Alliance Missions
“I would rather just have you.”
Those words still reverberate in my soul every time I think about my call to care for missionaries. It was during the winter of 2014 that my wife Liz and I were going back and forth with the idea of taking a trip to Southeast Asia to visit some of our missionary friends there. We were excited about the prospects of the trip, but the more that we researched travel plans, the more we realized how expensive the trip would be to get us to those countries. At one point, we reasoned that it would be more beneficial for us to just donate the money instead of planning an expensive trip to spend time with our friends who were serving overseas.
Graciously, our friends refused the financial donation from us and insisted that we follow through and come visit them. With a bit of reluctance, we did visit our friends, and the Lord used that trip to not only refresh our friends but to impress on our hearts the true value of friendship to those serving on the mission field.
Serving in an international, cross-cultural context is hard work. It can be very challenging, frustrating, disorienting, and even lonely. Often, workers feel an unnecessary pressure to not burden their supporters with the hard things they’re experiencing. This means that their communication tends to be mostly positive and encouraging, highlighting successes and opportunities in ministry. But the truth is that what many of our workers need are friends—people who are encouraging, sacrificial, trustworthy, and who will love them at all times.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
In September 2021, God opened up the door for me to join Alliance Missions as the Candidate Development Specialist. One of my primary responsibilities in this role is to walk alongside missionary candidates as they explore their options inside of Alliance Missions. For many, I help answer questions and point them towards greater personal and spiritual development. For some, I make connections to our specialized structures or solicit the support of their pastor and church district. But in all of this, my ultimate my role is to befriend them. I get close to them and become someone with which they can be their true selves. I make it my intention with every encounter to listen well and commit to praying for them. And for those that make it to the field, I add them to my growing list of people to visit.
There are many ways that we can support our missionaries. Most need our financial support and every single one needs our faithful and consistent prayers. But as we look to care for these workers, may we not forget the value and importance of our friendship as well. Be a good friend to a missionary, and you will bless them more than you can ever imagine.