Links: Your church's adopted missionaries

The Church of the Nazarene has a "budget" system that supports around 500 missionaries serving around the globe. While such missionaries do not need to raise their individual support, each missionary or missionary family is assigned to district NMI organizations which, in turn, assign them to local churches in a program called Links. In its beginning days, LINKS was an acronym for Loving, Interested Nazarenes Knowing and Sharing. That acronym only works in English. Now that the Nazarene "family" is so multi-lingual, the program has just become "Links." Thus, it can be translated into any language without having to make it work as an acronym. Links offers a way for everyone to get involved in a ministry of encouraging and supporting missionaries in special ways.

If you don't know your assigned Links family or need contact information for them, get in touch with your district Nazarene Missions International president.

Ideas for local church involvement in Links

Are your Links missionaries on home assignment?

Find out when your adopted missionaries are due for a home assignment with a schedule of deputation services. If your church's adopted missionaries are going to be on home assignment soon, take advantage of that. Try to schedule them in your church and in others on your district that have also adopted them. Give them the royal treatment. Plan a family-style dinner and a time of celebration. If you can only have your Links missionary family on a weeknight, contact neighboring churches and plan a big multi-church reception.

Plan ahead. Discover your adopted missionaries' needs. Find out what they would like to take back to the mission field. Ask out about their special interests and hobbies. Be a "loving, interested Nazarene, knowing, sharing!" [ when your church has a missionary speaker ]

Links missionaries expecting a baby? Moving to a new location? Having a 25th anniversary? Or a 50th? Links MK getting married? Links missionary retiring?

Then you can have a wonderful time helping them celebrate: Showers, cards, flowers, and phone calls. Think of your Links missionaries as your church's pen pals.

Links missionaries retired?

What a special privilege you have! Let these veterans know they are appreciated and not forgotten! Write and introduce yourself, your church, and your locale. Send snapshots of your church, your pastor, and interesting happenings in your area. Team them up with senior citizens in your church as pen pals. When you send them cards and letters, include extra stamps inside for their mailings. Ask about their interests and hobbies. Ask about their music and reading tastes. Let them tell you (by tape or by mail) about the mission field where they served. Send small gifts such as:

Anything you do will be appreciated, especially by older missionaries who are widowed or unable to get around much. Older missionaries will love hearing from the children in your church. Encourage your children or teens to adopt your retired missionaries as grandparents and remember them on special occasions. [ Casa Robles Missionary Retirement center ]

Links missionaries have kids?

Missionary Kids can be a real challenge and a lot of fun! Most teens would enjoy hearing from a church youth group. What teen wouldn't enjoy birthday party components arriving in the mail?

Need a selection of ideas from which to pick? Try these:

Of course, money is also a welcome gift. (If you are a Nazarene church, be sure to send cash gifts through the General Treasurer so you can get 10% credit) and to make sure it really gets to them rather than being stolen in the mail.

Church children's groups could also do a boxed-up birthday party for MKs in their church's Links missionary families. Have your children bring in small gifts that can be easily mailed: crayons, markers, pens, pencils, books, candy bars, gum, fruit drinks, balloons, stickers, stamp sets, and notepads. If you're doing a birthday party box, include cake and frosting mix, candles, napkins, and prizes. Remember to do the party box well in advance so that it will arrive in time. Home-made birthday cards will add a special touch.

Other things Links Missionary Kids might enjoy are:

Does your adopted missionary family have kids in college?

What an opportunity for all-church fun and involvement! Shower them with homespun care and love:

Most of all, let them know you care by sending lots of cards and notes. Plan a "treat month" for your college MK. If it can be worked out, you might even invite them to your church for a weekend. If the school they're attending is close to you but far away from family members where they will spend summer and Christmas vacations, offer to host them for those brief breaks when they would not be going to a relative's home. In short, treat your LINKS MK college kid like you would want your child to be treated.

Missionary families like to get:

  1. Food parcels with items such as Jello, pudding, cake mixes, and other things they are not able to get om the area where they serve
  2. Packages of mixes such as macaroni and cheese or noodle and rice mixes. One missionary was thrilled with chili mix; another loved packaged ingredients to make pizza
  3. Cans of Chinese food for a complete dinner
  4. Seasonings and special teas (packed in plastic containers)
  5. New items that have just appeared on your own grocery store shelves
  6. Letters and emails
  7. Address labels from Links churches
  8. A stick of gum inside a letter to a child
  9. Surprises and inserts in letters
  10. Cards that say, "We're praying for you"
  11. Craft kits
  12. Fabric and thread
  13. Needlepoint
  14. Models
  15. Pens, markers, and fancy stationery
  16. Gifts of money to eat out on a birthday or anniversary, or when a new child is born . . . or "just because"
  17. Pretty napkins and paper plates
  18. Birthday party supplies
  19. Special holiday decorations or supplies
  20. Boxes of greeting cards
  21. A devotional book
  22. Band-Aids and towelettes
  23. Story or movie videos
  24. Magazine subscriptions
  25. Crossword puzzle books
  26. A calendar
  27. Packages packed with comic papers
  28. Parcels for birthday celebrations
  29. Parcels with a new necktie or socks or pantyhose for mama
  30. Parcels!
  31. Things for their kids:

Missionaries are like you: they love to know they are loved! Learn their desires and interests. Show them that you care.

A bit of history

In 1921 -- which was only about two years after what is now NMI was born -- a "box work" program was begun. Box work was a way of encouraging local churches to send more than cash to missionaries. It meant actually boxing up personal and ministry stuff and sending those boxes overseas to missionaries.

Two years later -- in 1923 -- the General Budget (now World Evangelism Fund) came into being. At that point box work became a way of providing a personal touch with individual missionaries who began to be supported through a central budget.

That "boxwork" program evolved into what we call Links. It provides valuable personal contact between local churches and missionaries serving elsewhere in the world.

Links promotional insert for Sunday bulletins (worship folders)

Need a Links missionaries bulletin board idea?

Our local church uses legal-size paper (8 1/2 by 14 inches) for Sunday morning worship bulletins or folders. Those sheets are folded to make three panels 8 1/2 by 4 5/8 inches.

Using materials from the global office of Nazarene Missions International, I created a series of missions informational inserts to fit into those bulletins. These could also be used as missions posters or even as starting points for missions bulletin boards.

Click on the image to open a full-sized PDF of that insert.

Explanation of  Links missionary program

     -- Howard Culbertson,


The Links program connects Nazarene churches with their missionaries serving around the world. Through prayer, communication, and practical support, Links aims to foster relationships between missionaries deployed by the denomination and local Nazarene congregations. Churches participating in the Links program provide encouragement, financial assistance, care packages, prayer and other forms of support for missionaries as they fulfill their calling to cross-cultural ministry. Links plays a crucial role in sustaining missionary efforts worldwide and nurturing a global community of faith by fostering a sense of connection and partnership.

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