The reason I do this ministry of encouragement to missionaries is because I have the Spiritual Gift of Encouragements. Sometimes I am thinking about how to encourage a person, but most of the time, the gift works on a supernatural level that I am completely unaware of. In other words, sometimes I encourage a person without even knowing that I’m doing it. And that mostly happens when I am simply present—either coming to their celebration (see The Matchless Gift of Presence) or they come to mine, as happened just the other day.
My brother and sister-in-law have gone to her parents’ house to celebrate Christmas, but before they went, they wanted to bring their presents for us (me and Mom). So we had an early Christmas gift exchange.
That same morning I had gotten a message from Judith, a missionary that had stayed in my house in Milan. Judith will soon be returning to Italy, and she had wanted to see me while we were both here on American soil. Between my road trip to Boston (see my last five posts) and her own travels, we were not sure how or even if meeting would be possible. Through a series of circumstances, Judith’s trip to Atlanta had brought her to Nashville instead. She was heading to the coast of South Carolina from there, and saw that the route would take her through Asheville. In fact, Asheville was the halfway point of her journey.
She contacted me, asking if I would be available. With the family Christmas gift exchange, I was a bit doubtful, but I ran it by them. Mom’s concern was that I would have to leave and go do some counseling. I assured her that was not the case. Judith just wanted to see me briefly.
When Judith arrived, I met her at the front door to the building. We chatted a bit as I led her to our apartment. The first family member she met was Prissy, Mom’s Shih Tzu. Prissy is a Therapy Dog, so she also has a gift for encouragement. Judith enjoyed her waggy welcome. Then she met the rest of the family.
Judith only stayed about half an hour, since she needed to get back on the road. But during that time, she saw a side of me that most of my missionary friends have never seen. She really enjoyed being in the midst of our loving, laughing family. My brother, being a salesman, is both charming and down-to-earth. He easily meets new people. My sister-in-law is also very open and friendly, having worked with abused children and their families. Mom is also very friendly and sympathetic. She welcomes new people to our complex, hating to see how some residents avoid having lunch with someone new. She takes Prissy to visit people in need of cheering up. Come to think of it, I guess we’re a family of encouragers.
With a cup of coffee from the 24 hour free coffee bar, we sent Judith on her way. Each of them loved meeting Judith, and seeing me in action, encouraging a missionary. But what did I do? Nothing much. I simply allowed myself and my family to open ourselves and our home to Judith. I would say that we got as much encouragement out of her visit as Judith did from visiting us. Try it sometime. Open up a little. You’ll see that it really doesn’t take so much to encourage someone else. You’ll find yourself encouraged in the process. God is good!