When I was dating Sarah, there were several months where we lived 600 miles apart. Almost every evening I would call and talk with her. It was the highlight of my day. Though it may sound corny, I would often prepare for my calls by jotting down a list of questions to ask her. I wanted to be sure I had something to talk about in case the conversation started to lag (it rarely did). My preparation must have paid off as all those conversations led to marriage and life together.
Good questions are the fuel to a great conversation. They are the door by which you can discover who a person really is. Now what about you? Have you ever wondered what to talk about with a missionary that visits your church or that comes for a meal at your home? You may have thought, “I don’t really have much in common with these missionaries. They live in a foreign country and do something I would never dream of doing.” Or perhaps you think that missionaries get tired of answering questions. But the truth is that most of them are excited to talk about the people and country they love. If you have ever thought any of these things before, then here are some great questions to ask next time you are with a missionary.
Ask about their calling
- How did God lead you to become a missionary?
- What did you do before you were a missionary?
- What advice would you give somebody who felt that God may be leading him or her to become a foreign missionary?
Ask about their country
- How would you describe your neighbors and the people that live in your town?
- What were some of the biggest adjustments and challenges you had to make when you started living in your field of service?
- What do you miss most from America while you are on the field? What do you miss most from your country while you are in America?
- How do people in your country view America? What are some cultural differences or barriers that you have had to overcome?
Ask about their work
- What is the best part about being a missionary? What are some of your favorite things you get to do in your work?
- What does your typical week look like?
- What are some of your biggest victories from the past year?
- What were some of your biggest challenges during the past year?
- What are some of your big goals and desires for your future ministry?
- How can people and churches here in America better help your work?
Find out who they are
- Tell me a funny story about something that has happened to you as a missionary.
- Have you read any books that have been particularly helpful to you? Do you listen to any podcasts or preachers that are an encouragement to you?
- What is one of the most encouraging things somebody has done for you while you were on the field?
- How is your family doing?
- What are some activities that you like to do as a hobby or to relax?
Find out what you can do for them
- How can I pray for you? If the setting permits, ask to pray with the missionary that very moment. Surprisingly, there have been very few occasions that people have done this for us, and yet we deeply appreciate it. It is powerful to have people not just pray for you, but with you.
- Is there something I can do to help your family right now or while you are on the field? Again, you may be amazed at the response to this question. Most times the needs are very simple – getting to do a load of laundry, mailing a small package, or recommending a good place to take their kids for the afternoon.
You may be surprised. The more you talk with a missionary, the more you may find out that they enjoy many of the same things you do. They may share similar struggles with you. They may be more like you than you thought at first glance.
So the next time you are with missionaries, don’t hesitate. Go talk with them, Your thoughtful questions just may open the door to a terrific conversation, an encouraging moment, and even a new friendship.