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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: Letters to Missionaries
By Edmond Ng


    For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; for I know your readiness, (2 Corinthians 9:1-2a)
I used to write at least a snail mail once every fortnight to a group of missionaries. Even when I did not receive regular reply from them, I continued to write because I knew it was quite impossible to expect missionaries in the fields to write back frequently. That was many years ago, before the keyboard took over the pen to become the main instrument for letter writing.

More than one of the missionaries I wrote to had expressed how such handwritten letters meant to them in bringing comfort while they were away from their relatives and friends. One particular missionary told me she was able to observe how I had improved in my writing over the years and grown in faith in the way I encouraged them. When I visited the mission site later, this same missionary conversed with me as though we had never been very far apart from each other over the years. This is what letter writing is all aboutóclosing the gap between distances while building rapport and relationship even when physically absent.

In an article on 'Ten Ways to Encourage a Missionary' at TheGospelCoalition.org, a question was asked as to how missionaries would most like to be served and encouraged. In response, a missionary wrote to describe how he felt about receiving handwritten mails:

"Real mail is always special. Really, the thing with real mail is more than just getting some nice stuff from home (which is nice), but it seems a more tangible reminder that the people I love and miss love and miss me too and are thinking of me."

As Christians, we have a common faith that draws us together even when we are far away, and letter writing is one good way we can show and express our care for those serving abroad. Although e-mail can serve the same purpose in writing to people vast distance apart and providing faster delivery, it can never replace handwritten letters when bridging the gap between hearts. This is because e-mail lacks the personal touch expressed in handwriting.

The Bible in 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 describes what it means by ministry to the saints. It is not just about supplying the needs of the saints, but also about the proof of our obedience in confessing the gospel of Christ and the liberality of our contribution to the saints serving abroad (2 Corinthians 9:1, 9, 12-13). We should therefore not wane in our ministry to the saints, for the administration of such service glorifies God. We ought also not to neglect encouraging one another to build each other up, but should appreciate and esteem highly those who diligently labor among us in love because of their work (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13).

Let us therefore not stop writing snail or real mails to those serving abroad, for it is a tangible way of expressing our care in reminding them they are loved and missed. We should instead encourage and show them love with a personal touch by penning down letters in our own handwriting. We need not wait for a reply before sending our next mail because it is more difficult for them than for us to have the time to do so. Rather than feel dejected because of the lack of responses, let us be assured and know without a doubt that every word we write to encourage them is edifying and appreciated. Only in this way can we then close the gap between distances and continue to build rapport and relationship even when absent.

Thank You dear Lord for the gift of letter writing and for providing us a communication mode that offers real personal touch to the ones serving You abroad. Grant us Lord the willingness to be Your instrument in closing the gap between distances to build rapport and relationship with them as one body in Christ. Put in us Lord the desire to encourage and minister to the saints in love and appreciation for their diligent labor and work in You.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 681 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lollie Hofer10/29/10
What a great expository on hand-written letters, especially to missionaries. Personal is better every time. (Just a personal preference note: If you could type out the scriptures instead of just giving the reference, that would be helpful. I don't think they include the scriptures in the word count.) I know several missionaries...gotta go buy myself some stationary later today cuz' I plan on taking your advice.
Rachel Phelps10/30/10
Great food for thought. Thanks for sharing the reminder!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/30/10
This is a great message. The scripture verse and prayer really empathized your message.
Catrina Bradley 10/30/10
A wonderful call to a ministry anyone can do. I wonder...are you going to take your own advice and go back to hand-written letters now that you've done the research? :) I always enjoy your messages.
God bless you.
Gregory Kane10/31/10
Amen. Is it unspiritual to mention that I also enjoyed those letters to Africa that came wrapped in a packet of cheese sauce mix or hot chocolate?!
Bear in mind that not all letters to the developing world get through.
Nancy Sullivan 10/31/10
How easy it is for us to contribute to mission funds through special offerings, maybe even say a prayer for the missionaries and feel that we've done our part. Your entry is a real eye-opener and a challenge to reach out to them on a personal basis. Thanks.
Nancy Sullivan 10/31/10
Just one more thought. In many places our missionaries live in dangerous environments. We need to be careful to know the guidelines about keeping them safe when we correspond.
Philippa Geaney 11/01/10
As I read your article I remembered the delight of finding a letter in the mail box when I was on the other side of the country doing my Midwifery. No advance communication has ever replaced that special treasure and your writing has refreshed the memory. I'd cart the letter around until the next one arrived. Well written.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/01/10
I used to write a lot of letters, but have not in quite awhile. Your story is prompting me to get back to that practice. I have letters from others that I have saved. It is more special than something printed off the computer!

Thanks for the reminder.
Jan Ackerson 11/01/10
Thanks for the reminder!
Beth LaBuff 11/03/10
Your challenge to the reader is well-reasearched and thoughtout. What a great way to minister to the ministers of the Gospel.