A Ministry of Encouragement

by Alastair Dickson
Posted on 1st December 2004

(Encourage International's application for the next job - to heaven's head office)

Dear Sir,

I am looking for a job. I have heard you need some help befriending missionaries.

I have had many years experience of just that - being a friend to missionaries. I keep in touch with them regularly by letter, emails or texting. If anyone sends me a communication I reply straight away. People seem to like that. The best thing is to visit, however inaccessible their home or even when their situation is unstable and bullets are flying - after all, the missionary has to be in that situation all the time, why shouldn't I experience it briefly? I am there for them when things are difficult. A missionary was driving to church. The car skidded on an icy corner. His wife and mother of their two young children was killed instantly. The missionary was overwhelmed by an avalanche of letters, cards and prayer from us and those who work with us. I visited him.

When I go and visit a missionary they usually can't believe I just want to be a friend. They think I must have an ulterior motive:

Why have you come to see me?

I want to be your friend, help you, encourage you.

But you have been coming for 8 years. What's the catch?

There is no catch, I just want to sit with you, share your vision, your burdens and do what I can to help you.

Surely you want to preach and share about your ministry in the churches here.


You must want to write stories about what God is doing here in your magazine to raise money for your ministry.

No. I have only one interest and that is you.
I admit I used to be a church leader when you were one of my many responsibilities but you know I thought one day you could do with my full and total attention. So what can I be for you? A friend, I would love to be. One day, God willing, there will be more Barnabas people totally dedicated to you.

Well, that is certainly different! Many people have come, sat in this room, made many promises, left and that's the last we have heard of them or their promises.

I am so sorry you have been hurt like that. I will not make promises except to pray and then give you the best I can.

Well, you are unique!

I visited one missionary in a war zone, he was so upset by previous visitors he wouldn't let me in the house. I left with a list of prayer requests in my hand. I gave him no money (this was appropriate at the time), I made no promises except to pray and get others to pray and write to him regularly. I returned the following year, he opened the door, smothered me with a bear hug, dragged me into the house. "Thank you so much for being a friend, you and your friends have really cared for us this year, you really have prayed - all the things I asked you to pray about have been answered, our situation is so much better than when you were last here."

Oh yes, I should have mentioned I do not have any major qualifications I just think being open and vulnerable and being a friend is what missionaries need.

Hopefully I can be of help, by being a friend.

Yours sincerely.


Rev. Alastair Dickson has been the director of Encourage International for the last 16 years, providing encouragement and support to Christian workers both inside and outside the UK. He also works to enable others to be encouragers.
For more info, see www.encourage-international.co.uk