By: Faith Baptist Church (Lebanon, PA). Used with permission.
Here in the United States we take internet access, e-mail accessibility, and high-speed connections for granted. It may come as a surprise, then, to realize that what we have for internet capabilities are not always the same for our missionaries.
Here are some important points to consider next time you email a missionary:
- Some missionaries do not have the means of internet access and speed as you do. Many missionaries have dial-up accounts that are much slower then the dial-up accounts here in the States and extremely slower than DSL, Hi-Speed, or Fios connections. With that in mind…
- Before sending graphics and photos, make sure you have first emailed and asked the missionary for permission. For example, a photograph takes up to 15 minutes to download in a third world country. That can cost up to $8 USD! The missionary may be thrilled to hear that you have a new kitten, but that are probably not eager to pay $8 to see a picture of it. Send it regular mail!
- If you decide to send a mass email to a number of missionaries or others, be sure to send a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) to everyone. If you put all the addresses in the “To” line, then all email addresses are sent to everyone. If a missionary pays by the minute, he will be spending precious money to download a bunch of other people’s email addresses. There is a draw back, however, to the BCC…
- When you use the “BCC” line, the “To” line in left blank. It may look like SPAM (junk email). Therefore, you must make sure that your “Subject” line is meaningful. If your subject is “Hi!!!” and the missionary does not recognize your address of fuzzypenguinforGod@aw3.com then most likely they will delete your message. Use descriptive and clear subjects such as “Hello, from your adopt-a-missionary family” or “A quick question for Bob Metze from Lebanon, PA” or “Happy birthday from a member of Faith in Lebanon.”
- This becomes tricky for missionaries in Sensitive Areas of the World. You should be careful with any email you compose yourself or forward. Do not write about politics, political leaders, religious freedom or other such issues in the missionaries host countries (unless your goal is to see them captured, tortured, and killed). Avoid words like: church, prayer/praying, missionary, converts, evangelism, Bible, believers, worship, or the names of prominent Christian leaders and institutions. To not be afraid to write, just be careful.
- One big waste of time and money is Forwarding; Especially if you insist on forwarding chain letters and virus hoaxes. If you are concerned about the years of bad luck that will occur because you broke the email chain letter, then I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. As well, that virus email that talks about the killer grub that will infect your computer on the 32nd day of February is not worth forwarding. In fact more than likely that particular email probably contains the “computer grub worm epidemic virus of 2007.” Simply delete all chain letters and virus warnings that do not come from your anti-virus company.
- If you need to forward something, then Clean it up!! This means delete headers, footers, email addresses of others and if the email has been forwarded several times already, you should delete all the >>>> that some email programs put in.>>>>Subject: Poor forwarding>>>>Date: 2 Feb 2010 10:12 a.m.>>>>From: Pastor Art
>>>>>>>words, don’t forward
- When responding to a missionary, do not send his message back to him in your reply. They have already paid to send it off and probably aren’t eager to pay to get it back. If you need to reference their prayer letter, simply write, “in your last prayer letter of March 9th…”
- Be careful with Formatting. Use plain and simple text when emailing. While it looks pretty to have all the colors and graphics, it takes much longer to download. And the missionary may not be able to read your message.
- Please understand, we are not saying “Don’t email missionaries.” They love to hear from home. Just stop and think before you hit “Send.” And for all those cute stories you get, print them out and send them Snail Mail.