Our relationship with him through Christ is a priceless possession, reason enough to support his work in the world. Clear, candid and well-organized missionary newsletters are most effective.
Here are five things we like to see in mission letters:
Simple, concise wording is crucial. Work to get to the meaning. Big words and complex sentences impede readers. Vague or overused phrasing does the same. For example:
Subject headings like Satisfied in Christ say little. Sentences like Thank you for being there when times were dark, have no spark or power.
Consider this paragraph… God treasures little children. He made every child in his image and wants each to experience the joy of being in his forever family. Many children, especially those living in poverty, may miss this. It states the obvious.
Don’t force Sheryl and me to puzzle over what’s being said or wait too long for your point to be made. Though dedicated donors, we may lose momentum and stop reading.
We prefer the unexpected. For example: God exploded into view here yesterday. The glory of his presence fell on every soul. Let me tell you happened!
Tell us of God’s miracles and successes—of course! But help us understand the struggle as well. Are you fatigued, discouraged, lonely? What do you most hope God will do in this area? We will pray.
Some of those we support are naturally open. There is warmth and spiritual beauty in what they write. Sheryl especially treasures this. “Whenever we hear from them,” she says, “I feel moved to help.”
3. An Inviting Structure
Recently we received an unreadable newsletter. It began well. Poignant words of Jesus as he climbed to Calvary appeared in large, attractive type at the top of the first page. Then came volumes of tiny type unrelieved by photos, white space or subject headings.
Good visuals indicate planning and sensitivity to first impressions – vital elements of organization. We don’t want brain-strain when opening an envelope or email message. Also, we need order. Clear divisions in the presentation, marked by meaningful headings, pave the way for an ask.
Try this outline in your appeal letter:
Here is the need.
These are the people who will benefit spiritually from our help.
They are real. They have names. Many are in trying if not desperate circumstances.
If we act today, the tangible relief of God’s presence in their lives can begin or continue.
Say clearly what you’d like us to do that would help.
When a handwritten note of thanks from an Arabic missionary working in the Middle East arrived in our mailbox, we noticed the stamp on the envelope. It bore an image of Queen Elizabeth II. This was interesting. More important, we felt the man’s heart in what he wrote. So our continued support for him is secure.
A narrative or story-telling has power! An example is this story:
A heavily-tattooed felon stood in a doorway, hesitating. A friend had invited him to study the Scriptures. What was the point? He would be released from prison in a week and had never opened a Bible. Twenty minutes later a radiant believer, a fellow inmate, incarcerated for life with no possibility of parole, led the man to Jesus.
Other inmates rose, gathered around the man and sang in praise. He stood in wonder, eyes glistening. In his grasp now were the greatest resources available for returning to life on the outside—God’s forgiveness and continuous relationship with him from then into eternity.
Send stories like this, which glow with God’s glory, and we will write checks.