This ministry opportunity is for those interested in building encouragement-focused, personal correspondence relationships with an individual across the world. We match WordWalk volunteers with individuals within the scope of our global partners’ ministries.
- Each paired relationship will have some commonality identified by our global partner leaders and by the Key-Pad Pen-Pals coordinators in WordWalk; for example, the two ‘Pals’ may have common passions, responsibilities, skills, interests, etc. They will also all know English – to some degree.
- We will trust and work with our global partners to know best the individuals within their scope of ministry who may benefit and engage in such a relationship.
- Each paired relationship will be unique: culture, language, education, attitudes, lifestyles, vocation, opportunities, – respecting those uniqueness is critical.
- WordWalk will provide cultural and basic technical guidance and support of escalated questions or concerns that may be encountered. This communication will need both partners to embrace a basic level of participation.
- All WordWalk volunteers will attend an orientation to ensure they understand guidelines and how they are supported in this partnership.
TIPS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Tips for building a foundation of encouragement with your Pal:
- Remember and pray about the things they share with you. Review recent correspondence and ask specifically about updates on ministries, family activities or challenges they are facing. It encourages each of us when people remember what we’ve shared.
- Part of these relationships should be opportunities to encourage their spiritual walk and personal relationships.
New friends from a different culture:
- Learning about the scriptural consistency of a national believer you befriend will help your communication about spiritual things. We will work with our global partners to help you.
- Remembering what they share about events, family, school, their work, etc. also provides topics to ask more about.
- Find commonality in the basics, and let them open the door to topics with further complexities like relationship challenges, financial needs, or survival realities.
- Limited resources rarely allow them to solve challenges in the ways we would solve them, and your offer of an idea may easily be misunderstood by them as your willingness to pay for it.
- Be conscious of their assumptions if they can see your social media feeds.
Americans serving in another culture:
- Many missionaries do not have a group of English-speaking Christian friends near them on their field; they feel forgotten by those at home. You can be a blessing and encouragement that they miss and often crave.
- Remember what they are interested in and pepper your communication with questions or connections about those things – it isn’t always spiritual. Example: homeschooling resources; books or movies on their topics of interest; professional or college sports; craft or decorating ideas….
- Most missionaries are pleased to share about the culture and realities of the people they serve and the activities and challenges of their ministry…. Show interest; ask questions; demonstrate you care by remembering to bring up details later. Caution: Let them be the expert about their world across the globe! It’s very American to always offer a solution or to think you know better because you Googled…. 😊
- First share scriptural encouragements when the missionaries share challenges. Try to avoid draining their ministry energies with your own unfiltered judgements about their methods or tempting reminders of resources they’ve left behind in the States.
- Genuinely celebrate with them God’s blessings to their ministry efforts!
- Don’t be intimidated to share things you’ve found in Scripture. Many missionaries have been called because they are willing to obey and not because they are necessarily Biblical scholars. Share favorite verses you feel will encourage them. Share passages that encouraged you in your recent reading. Share promises of God that you rely on in your walk. Resist arguing theological points unless they are encouraged by that.
Tips for finding communication methods:
- Ask about and remember the technologies they use and can access for communication and the limitations to those technologies (time-zone; stability of the service; cost to them). To find the best way to communicate, you may need to be patient with dropped service or in trying an application that is new to you, remembering that written communication is often more stable but not immediately delivered, as it is for us.
- Let them set the regularity of your communication, as it may cost them money to receive messages from you. Ask about their preference of apps or transmission options because they likely know which ones work with their limitations. Consider other limitations like time-zone, stability of their service, and even best times of the day or week for them to have enough bandwidth availability for files or video chats.
- Remember, using the language of scripture is unlimited and effective. Sharing verses or the promises of God translate to encouragement in any culture. Language can take patience to navigate: remember some people learned English as adults and are at various stages of understanding. Be willing to ask them to clarify their meaning; that will help them feel comfortable asking you to clarify. When you write, use the level of words they use, but speak normally if you are using a video option because that allows them to learn more words by asking instantly for clarity.
Things that may not translate:
- Even with American missionaries, be cautious about dwelling on those privileges you have that they do not have access to.
- Resist trying to suggest solutions until you are very familiar with their conditions, as their international resources and culture are different from our U.S. options…
- Good first options might be to ask questions about how others solve the difficulty and offer to pray for them and the problem.
- Ask about the realities of any help you would like to offer. Example: Before your big heart suggests ‘mailing’ them anything, research the cost or see if posted packages actually arrive at all; often postage, taxes, & bribes to boarder officials cost more than the package is worth.
- Be aware of messages you are unintentionally post on your social media feeds, if they have access to them….
- Be wise about sharing realities about your ministry or church that are more sophisticated than their culture or are discouragingly negative.
- You may find that you have philosophical differences; pray seriously before addressing or arguing those differences. There are often complex parts of your cultures that cannot be compared.
Support for uncomfortable or confusing situations:
- Philosophical or doctrinal differences often arise within conversations between cultures. Feel free to contact WordWalk for more context or guidance through confusions.
- Ministries in other countries need funds as much as ministries in the U.S.; so some will ask for your help. Do not commit to your KeyPad Pal anything but prayer – unless you have the personal means to follow-through.
- We suggest you never try to send money internationally; the transfer processes are full of frustrations that are in place to try to reduce fraud. WordWalk is glad to advise or partner on projects that align with our vision, and when given through our organization, you can deduct such gifts from your taxes.
- Shipping is not possible to many areas of the globe, and shipping costs are normally higher than the gift value.
- Feel free to escalate to Mike Rollwagen any requests or needs you receive from global WordWalk partners; this ensures we are aware of their need. In contacting us, you may also learn more details about their realities, which can help with your encouragement or any support decision you are considering, but never feel pressured to personally meet requests! Praying for them and sharing their needs with WordWalk are good steps.
- People are creative, so if they tell you a sad tale that you later learn was a ‘whopper,’ forgive it and add that to your repository of lessons-learned.
- Some communication topics or content restrictions may apply to some areas of the world. We will help you ensure that you have clear and safe parameters by partnering strongly with WordWalk global partners.
Strangers across the Internet:
Building connections with people in other cultures can be an amazing adventure; be wise and enjoy! Friends of your KeyPad Pal may see you on social media and connect with you; it is wise for you to treat them as strangers – until they aren’t any longer. Of course, if you and your pal use only private communication avenues, these cautions are usually minimal.
- If you can tell who the person was that you have in common on social media, ask that person in a private message about the new ‘stranger in your feed.’
- Do not over-share your personal information unless you know a third-party that has first-hand knowledge of the person and can confirm reliability or until their intent is affirmed over time.
- Do not assume someone is a believer just because they ‘friend’ you when they see you on a believer’s feed or following list. Start the relationship with the same introduction, questions, and sharing you might use in face-to-face situations with someone you don’t know: interest about their life, family, work, or their faith to help confirm their reason for connecting with you.
- Basing your encouragement and communication on scriptural topics quickly illustrates the kind of relationship you want to share. You can find interesting new contacts and learn about their worlds; those interested in other things will soon move on.
- If people who live in survival realities connect with you, please realize that getting money from strangers online is one of the ways some of them meet their basic needs.
- Do not be hesitant to admit you don’t have extra to give, but also be aware of what they may be seeing about your life in your social media posts….
- Do not resist making connections because you are afraid to say “no” to requests for funds. Learn early to be comfortable saying no; soon they will stop reaching out or they will stay connected because they appreciate your caring friendship – which is what you want. Even if you can afford to give, please consider the precautions we’ve shared about trying to wire money internationally
- If someone should suggest you give something to them to help with a local WordWalk project, just say that you will pray for them and that you may give through WordWalk directly.
Feel free to escalate to WordWalk or Mike Rollwagen any concerns you have about someone who may have ‘connected’ to you through a WordWalk contact. If they mention WordWalk, that does not mean we know or are connected to them in any way; so check.