I’d been concerned about a friend. She lives in one of the world’s hotspots and has been serving faithfully among refugees. I hadn’t received an update for a while, so wanted to check in to see if she was doing alright.
A few days after my initial text, she wrote back.
I love technology sometimes. She started with texts, then ended up sending me a recorded message, since multiple text messages just would not suffice. I sat back and listened to her share her heart.
Hearing her update on life in a third-world country just affirmed the blessings we still enjoy, even in the midst of a pandemic. She is going through much of the same things, though without nearby family, reliable internet and adequately stocked grocery stores. Also, like many of us, she’s doing life through zoom. That’s when I laughed at her next statement:
I’m zoomed out.
I thought I could understand how she felt, but then realized that not only does she have to attend meetings led by her organization and colleagues, but she is inundated with calls and zoom chats by family and friends across the ocean, who now suddenly have more time on their hands and want to reach out.
Believe me when I say, missionaries and Christian workers are always happy to hear from friends and loved ones — but it’s nice to be asked if it’s a good time to talk or chat.
Not only do time zones have to be considered, but also just schedules. Whether they are studying a new language, preparing a Bible study, visiting with a local friend or walking to the market, cross-cultural workers cannot always just drop everything for a call from across the ocean.
So, what do you do to engage with and show concern and care for your friend overseas?
- Prepare an old-fashioned care package.
- Make sure, first, that they can receive packages in their location and that it won’t cost them more to get it from customs than it did for you to send it.
- Ask them what they might want or need and the best way to send it.
- Send a letter via snail mail (or regular post, as we know it)
- Ask about them, but also just tell them what you’re doing.
- Talk about local news and common friends.
- Let your kids draw them a picture to put in with the letter.
- If they are in a security-sensitive country, talk in general, not specifically about their work, avoiding missionary-type terms.
- Send recorded messages via FB messenger, WhatsApp, MarcoPolo. This way they can open them whenever they have time and even listen to them more than once.
- Send texts, while assuring them they can respond at their convenience.
- Send an old-fashioned email. Much like the old-fashioned letter, but just insures a quicker arrival or guaranteed arrival, in some cases.
Whatever way you connect — connect. These are hard days for Christian workers, wherever they are located. Let them know you are praying for them and care for them.
You might be surprised — they may want to chat through zoom!
John had the right idea when he was writing to his friend, Gaius:
I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.*
I wonder what John would have done with zoom?
Grace and Peace
3 John 13-14 (NIV)