How to Support Missions if Your Church Can't Go Overseas

Written by Founder Raul Rivera on Dec 13, 2016 in Outreach

It was a long process, but Pastor Mark and his church had finally sent their first missions team out of the country. There was so much joy and anticipation that he could hardly sleep. He was very excited to hear from the missions team upon its arrival, and he could not stop smiling when he finally got the call.

After a couple of weeks in the foreign country, the missions team realized that there was a great need for basic foods like rice and beans. There was also a large youth population in the area that did not have access to books or basic school supplies.

This created a conversation between Pastor Mark and his local leadership team to discuss what they could do to help. He thought that certainly they could send some of the needed items over to assist.

The leadership team was on board, and now the next step was to figure out how to get the supplies to the people in need. Pastor Mark set out to do some research. His desire was to find the most cost-effective and reliable way to get the much-needed items to his team overseas.

Gathering the food and the school supplies was the easy part. Within three weeks, they collected enough financial support from the church and the community to purchase more than double what they had received in donated goods. Even though there were only about 80 people in the church, it seemed as if the whole community came on board with them.

The next question was, how were they going to ship everything to their missions team?

Practical help for you and your church

I recently reached out to one of our clients who ships church goods overseas and asked him a few questions to better understand this process.

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Pastor Kevin Radlein, who is a part of Pastor Dan Stallbaum’s team at East Coast Christian Center, provided some answers to help others like Pastor Mark.

Here is what was said in our conversation:

Me: Why did you start shipping materials overseas?

Pastor Kevin: The biggest reason we ship overseas is to provide things that are either unavailable or very expensive if purchased locally.

Me: What are the main things that you are sending?

Pastor Kevin: We have sent containers with cars and tractors in them, tools for farming, thousands of meals that last for long periods of time, and even entire kitchens for orphanages since many appliances are not available overseas.

Me: What process did you go through to find a company that ships what you want and where you want?

Pastor Kevin: Most of the shipping logistics are done by the missionaries and are arranged from the receiving side. Container pickup is scheduled, and then the delivery is made to the shipping company in the country where it will land.

Me: What hurdles or obstacles did you have to overcome in the beginning?

Pastor Kevin: The biggest hurdles are always getting the shipments out of customs and battling theft. Payoffs and dirty dealings can always become an issue.

"We ship overseas to provide things that are either unavailable or very expensive if purchased locally." ~ @eccc_fl

This conversation provided good insight and ideas on items that can be sent to missionaries around the world. I was surprised to find out that most of the logistics are handled by the missionaries, and not the team here in the USA. I also never thought of theft as a big issue. It can be a huge factor in determining who to hire.

(Recommended reading: “Can Donations Risk Your Tax-Exempt Status?”)

Using the resources around you

I do my own research when taking on new activities and tasks. Thanks to the Internet, and the ability to share information quickly, it is easy to find useful websites and companies that help with overseas shipping. 

  • Taking a look under FAQ sections will answer most of the questions that you may have about shipping overseas. Also, check for restrictions and gift allowances by country. Researching this information can save you from headaches and possibly weeks or months of waiting for customs to clear your shipment.
  • You may also find helpful chat groups or online communities that support overseas missionaries and ship goods on a regular basis. One of the easiest ways to learn what works, and what does not work, is by obtaining feedback from someone who has gone through the process before you. These resources can also provide better answers to more specific questions as they arise.
  • Look for social media groups or church pages that might lead you to the right connection. As with any online interaction, be careful what information you disclose outside of a secure page.
  • While most of the shipping companies will take the responsibility to learn about maritime laws, you may also want to research some of the latest updates on your own. There are sites that help categorize various laws and provide useful information to anyone that is getting involved in international shipping. 

I encourage you to look and see if there are specific laws that govern shipping to the country where your missionaries are located.

The Great Commission

Mark 16:15 states, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” For many in the church, the physical trip might not be possible. However, sending support in the form of goods and supplies can fulfill the call that believers receive in this passage of Scripture. Our responsibility is to make sure we do our due diligence so that these resources are not wasted or lost in transit. 

If you are a new church plant, I encourage you to get involved in international missions. There are many people in the world that need to hear the Word of the Lord and the gospel message. Jesus knew what kind of a positive impact missions trips would have on the hearts of those that provide support to or participate in missions work (apart from the individuals who receive an eternal gift).

(Recommended reading: “How to Start a Church the Right Way”)

Acts 20:35 tells us that it is more blessed to give than receive, and I pray your congregation will come to live out the truth of that verse.

Final thoughts

Pastor Mark continues to have a huge international ministry that impacts thousands every year. Thanks to his obedience to God’s calling, people throughout the globe are receiving life-saving resources and soul-saving messages from his missionary teams.

It is easy to get caught up in our local community, and forget the call to reach beyond our borders. I speak to several pastors every week that are just trying to get one more person into their church from the neighborhood. When I ask what type of outreach and missions work they are doing, it is often minimal or nonexistent. We need to heed the words that Jesus spoke, and deliver the message of salvation through Christ to the world.

If you are wondering how you can have a bigger impact in international missions, you may want to consider creating a CDC to help secure additional resources. For more information on how a CDC can work for you, you can attend one of our conferences, or give us a call at 877-494-4655, and we will be happy to provide you with that information.

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Raul Rivera

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