Christmas is an important time of year for all of us, for spiritual and social reasons. For missionaries or gap year workers it can be a difficult time due to their locations and distance from 'home'. Here are seven suggestions for you if you would like to help them.
1. Send them Christmas greetings
Make sure that any missionary you or your church supports gets your Christmas news and greetings. It's great for them to keep up with friends back home, and it will help them to feel included and not so isolated.
2. Send a Christmas present
You might send them something small from home. It doesn't have to be big or expensive. Perhaps something they can't get locally which might be a special treat at Christmas. For a list of postal options, see https://oscar.org.uk/resources/post. There are also places where you can source British goods for worldwide delivery (see https://oscar.org.uk/resources/other-suppliers)
3. Give them a financial gift
Many people give extra at Christmas. You might already support a number of missionaries, but Christmas giving is often aimed at more personal needs than ministry needs. Your gift could just help them do something special at Christmas.
4. Pray for their Christmas celebrations
Missionaries may not only struggle with being away from family and friends at Christmas, they may also struggle celebrating at all if they are in a culture which doesn't mark the occasion. Pray that they will find a meaningful way to celebrate.
5. Pray for their Christmas outreach
In many countries where Christmas is celebrated, it can be a significant occasion for outreach and evangelism (as it is in the UK). Pray for their activities and witness.
6. Include them in your Christmas
How about streaming or filming your Christmas events to share with them? Maybe a service at church or a party. Perhaps have a brief Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp Christmas get-together with them at some point. It will help them to feel like they're not missing out.
7. Help those recently returned
You may have people right around you who have recently returned from overseas (i.e. in the last year) or people who are new to the UK. They will probably feel quite 'out of it' and still be trying to get to know people. Why not invite them to your Christmas activities or open your house to them. They will be so grateful.
* This article was originally published in Dec 2017 and updated in Dec 2022