One of the biggest blessings of raising support to live and serve overseas is the team of people who come around and alongside our family on this journey.
We had dear friends who joined our support team, but we also had people who first joined our support team and then became good friends. People with whom God had us cross paths seemingly randomly are now important relationships for our family. We are in touch with some supporters weekly, some monthly, and some twice a year, so our relationship with each supporter functions at a different depth.
Communication with our supporters gives us a chance to say thank you, and also gives our supporters a chance to learn more about God’s work and how we participate in it. We hope that our supporters (and friends and family) have learned about our host country and our sending organization through conversations with us. More importantly, though, we hope that our supporters are learning about us and that we are learning about them – building deeper relationships that go far beyond financial transactions and prayer requests.
People on our support team, just like family and friends, don’t have to earn the right to ask us questions. But we appreciate it when they ask the right questions. If you just joined our support team last month, you’re probably not going to get an honest answer to the question, “What were some recent ministry losses and challenges?” Just like we would with normal friendships, supporters move through several levels of relational intimacy with us before arriving at those heart-level questions.
A quick sidenote: I am 100% aware that getting to the level of heart questions is a two-way street. If I want people in my life who will ask me the questions I want and need to be asked, it’s my responsibility to cultivate those relationships. I confess I’m not nearly as good at that as I would like to be. So while I commit to work at developing relationships from my end, here are some ideas for supporters and friends – some questions I would love to be asked!
Are you new to my family or the ministries we serve? Ask me. Ask me specific questions – “How’s the Dominican Republic?” is not allowed! Ask things like:
- Is there such a thing as a typical day in your life? What does it look like?
- What is one of your favorite things about Dominican culture?
- What’s a good book you have read lately? (Remember, we’re normal people, not just cross-cultural workers!)
Have we cultivated a relationship? (As in, are we in touch more often than our twice a year newsletters?) Try one of these:
- What were some challenges and wins in ministry recently?
- How can I pray for your kids?
- How are you making your family, and resting and playing together, a priority?
- How have you seen God working lately?
Are we friends? Ask me the harder questions. I need people to ask them of me and hold me accountable. People who will sit in my living room after my kids are in bed, or on a video call, or over a non-Chick-fil-a meal during a trip to the US, and really listen.
- What are you doing to care for your body? Stimulate your mind? Refresh your soul? Invest in your marriage? Disciple your children?
- What do you need to say no to?
- What has disappointed you lately?
- What are you praying for?
- How are you doing at making local friends? Using your time wisely? Making sure your husband doesn’t just get the leftovers of you?
- How is your spiritual life – truly and honestly, how is it?
As I reflect on these questions, I realize they seem to be questions you would ask any friend, not just a friend who happens to live and work overseas. I guess that’s my final encouragement. To the senders, ask the questions and invest in the lives of your friends who are living and serving overseas! And to the goers, do the same for your friends and supporters who have stayed in your passport country. Our lives are richer when our relationships are deeper, and I believe Christ is glorified through the unity and strength of those relationships that cross the globe.
What is your favorite way to deepen relationships with your passport country friends and supporters?