WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (BP)–One catalyst for transforming ordinary churchgoers into mobilized, on-mission Christians is a personal connection with a missionary.
Friendship Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Ga., made that connection last year when it adopted Jamie Daughtry through the North American Mission Board’s Missionary Encourager initiative. Daughtry serves in British Columbia, Canada.
“Jamie has been the greatest encouragement to our church,” said Connie Surratt, Jamie’s liaison with the 19-year-old congregation. “She is such a remarkable young woman with great spiritual insight and depth. It was a wonderful idea for us to sponsor her. We were the ones who received the blessing.”
Friendship Baptist adopted Daughtry by signing up to become a Missionary Encourager church at namb.net/encourager. Churches or small groups are invited to adopt a missionary for a minimum of one year.
“The best thing about having them adopt me was all of their prayers and e-mails,” Daughtry said. “I was struggling with some things that fall and really going through a hard time. Their e-mails, letters and gifts encouraged me in a way I’ve never been encouraged before. God proved Himself faithful through those precious people.”
Churches who adopt missionaries can choose to support and encourage them in a variety of ways. First and foremost is prayer — developing a plan to pray for the missionary regularly. Churches also can send notes of encouragement via e-mail, letters, cards and care packages with items the missionary/family enjoys.
“Friendship overwhelmed me one time by sending a huge care package,” Daughtry said. “They sent a box with tons of music CDs, girly items and even the ‘Praise Dance Revolution’ video game for my youth group. The package was so unexpected it brought tears to my eyes.”
Churches can take their missionary encouragement a step further by sending volunteers and mission teams to assist the missionary in his or her field of service. Extending speaking invitations to events such as mission fairs, conferences or the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and North American Missions Emphasis during the first week of March each year also is a way to show support for their work.
When Daughtry returned home to Georgia, she was invited to speak at Friendship Baptist and meet her encouragers face to face.
“I spent most of the time crying,” Daughtry said. “They continued to encourage me by having a luncheon for me, giving me a plaque with my name and the church’s on it and most importantly they prayed over me again.”
“Meeting Jamie when she came to visit in March was the culmination of all the months of knowing her through correspondence,” Surratt said. “She is so honest and real in her Christian walk. What an inspiration.”
Carol Baker, the Missionary Connections coordinator at NAMB, said her goal is for every church to encourage their missionary like Friendship Baptist has done with Daughtry.
“North America has become a diverse mission field. Missionaries often serve in places where the culture is very different from where they call home. It can be lonely and overwhelming,” Baker said. “Southern Baptists’ encouragement and support will motivate them to continue the excellent but challenging work to which God has called them.”
Currently 300 churches have adopted 800 of NAMB’s missionaries. If one out of eight of Southern Baptists’ 44,000-plus churches would adopt a NAMB missionary, all 5,600 missionaries in the United States and Canada could know they are prayed for and encouraged in their work.
Jami Becher writes for the North American Mission Board.