When I arrived in Swaziland in 1985, we were four missionaries working for the same mission organisation ( www.swazimission.co.za ) and one of the tasks which I was instructed to do was to write a newsletter once every four months to keep our supporters and others interested in the work informed about things happening. The other missionaries wrote during the other three months. 1985 was BC (Before Computers) which meant that we had to type a newsletter on an old typewriter (my kids don’t even know what a typewriter is!) and then this document had to be posted to an office in Pretoria in South Africa where it was retyped, duplicated, put into envelopes and posted to a few hundred people.
With time the system changed. Of the four missionaries I was the first to buy a computer in 1986 and we then started doing the newsletter on computer, in those early years using a program known as Wordstar and later progressing to other wordprocessors which enabled us to make the newsletter slightly more attractive. As my fellow missionaries left Swaziland, either to work in other areas or to retire, I eventually ended up having to write a newsletter every month. Getting the newsletter duplicated was not too difficult, but it became a family affair once a month to fold hundreds of newsletters and to get them into envelopes.
And then the next big step came when I started sending these newsletters via email. At present I have less than twenty people still receiving their newsletters via snail mail. What an improvement! But up to today I am glad that I was forced, in those early years, to discipline myself to send out newsletters to our supporters. As I receive and read newsletters from a selected group of missionaries that I am involved in, I realise the importance of these newsletters. All people supporting a ministry, be it morally, financially or through prayer, need (and have the right) to know that their support is making a difference. As missionaries we depend upon those people and therefore every missionary has to discipline him / herself to keep those supporters informed about the work.
As I went on my first short-term missionary outreach to Russia in 2001, a great number of people prayed for me. (Frankly, I suspect that many of them did not think that I would return home.) Stories of the persecution of Christians in Communist countries were still fresh in our minds. As I kept these people informed almost on a daily base as I prepared to go to Russia, I made a decision that, once in Russia, I would try my best to send out regular emails to all of these supporters. I was mostly thinking of sending out prayer requests but this became much more a personal diary (my first “blog” even before anyone else knew about blogs
Mission is teamwork. One missionary needs a large group of people giving all kinds of support. The missionary has the responsibility to ensure that all these people are well informed of the “successes” as well as the needs. For many missionaries this may feel like a waste of precious time, but it is time well invested in the kingdom of God.
This is a blog where I would like to share some of my ideas about contemporary mission. I have more than 25 years experience as a full-time missionary in Swaziland, have done a PhD on the theology of mission – specifically on the relationship between mission and eschatology – and am presently specialising in the problem of HIV/AIDS and how the church should approach this problem. You are welcome to respond and share your ideas on this blog.
Find me on the Internet
- <em>Missio Dei</em> – The role of the church
- When should you wipe the dust from your feet?
- Returning home after a mission trip
- The Angus Buchan Phenomenon
- First World Technology in a Third World Country
- What motivates people to help others?
- Contextualising the gospel
- Ed Stetzer & Mike Dodson: Comeback Churches
- To give or not to give? John Rowell
- Speaking out against injustice
Missiology Terms | J… on The Three-Selves Formula … Amanda Pullias on The Angus Buchan Phenomen… Bruce on Returning home after a mission… Arnau van Wyngaard on Starting afresh with God Alva on Starting afresh with God
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