How to Support Your Returning Missionary

A friend of mine, a former Mercy Ships crewmember, popped into my feed today, cheering us on for the work we are doing at Intermissionary.

Like us, he knows, global aid workers often need as much support leaving the field as they did entering it. The problem is, that's just one more thing they have to hustle the cash for, and most missionaries are so spent at the end of their service, they can't muster the energy to ask you for the money. 

So, a lot of them go it alone.

Here's what that often looks like according to SalusWorld an International NGO dedicated to promoting mental health globally:

International aid workers often feel guilt upon leaving their treatment locale and have few avenues to discuss and process the work performed abroad (Hearns & Deeny, 2007).

Reintegration processes need to be established to best support the psychological health of an individual returning from abroad. These processes need to address changes in an individual’s altruistic identity that occur in working on a humanitarian mission and the personal vacuum that is created upon leaving that environment (McCormack, Joseph, & Haggar, 2009).

Returning workers often report feeling that seeking help would show personal weakness (Kaur, 1996) or trivialize the plight of the populations they worked with (Grant, 1995).

One returnee explained, “Living and working abroad has a deep, profound effect on a person - an effect one doesn’t realize until they return home and find themselves desperately hanging on to what they have left behind.” (Aid Worker, Liberia)

Does this sound familiar? Are you a global aid worker jumping up and down yelling


At Intermissionary we do our part, but we know there are people who can't afford to come for a week to process their service. That's why we started the Intermissionary Scholarship Fund. So we could ask you, to help us, help them.

The Intermissionary Scholarship Fund supplies up to 2/3 of the registration fee ($900) for global aid workers who have served on the field for six months or more consecutively. Maybe you have a global aid worker coming home and you don't know how to help them. Partner with us because we do!

In addition, taking a week to debrief years of global service is not selfish or self-indulgent. It doesn't trivialize the very real suffering people all over the world endure on a daily basis. 


One study of 212 returning British Missionaries showed that after malaria and diarrhea, depression and anxiety were the most common health issues returning missionaries faced. Sometimes the remedy is as simple as having someone who asks good questions and listens to the answers. 

SalusWorld continues:

As the end of a contract draws near, workers often feel a variety of mixed emotions. Aid workers want to have helped, to be missed, to stay longer, to depart gracefully, to be told their work was valued, and, upon return, to be able to effectively communicate how their work changed them.

My friend from Mercy Ships asked: "Have you thought about presenting your retreats to churches to have them come together and support a get-away week for missionaries that they support instead of the missionary having to come up with funds (or ask for them)? I am sure many churches would love to get behind this and bless a returning (or resting) missionary."

It's a wonderful idea that we totally embrace. So let's do this together. 

Click here to find out all about Intermissionary.

Click here learn how you can sponsor a missionary. 

Click here to get on the waiting list for scholarship funds. 

Click here to nominate a missionary you know to come to one of the 2018 Intermissionary Retreats.

If you can't do any of these things, please share this post on your networks and let's keep people doing the hard work in hard places, healthy and whole.