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Letter Writing as a Ministry
Letter Writing Can Bless People's Lives
Letter writing has become a lost art with the increasing use of technology. Adults tend to rely more on email, and teens, of course, are the kings and queens of texting. So, what has happened to good old fashioned letter writing? It seems to have gone the way of the wooly mammoth and become all but extinct. But it is still exciting to go to the mailbox and receive something other than bills and advertisements, both of which ask for your money and are annoyances, especially at the end of a long day. And for some recipients, this personal mail is more important than others.
Receiving a letter in the mailbox brings out warm feelings. It means someone took the time to write to you. It means that someone cares about you. It can brighten someone's day, especially older adults who may not have any relatives nearby or are shut in and can't get out in public often.
I love to write. And I have found letters are very therapeutic to write. Writing a letter to a loved one, or even a stranger, and filling them in about the details of what is happening in your life helps the writer work through their routines, and reminds the writer of blessings they have in their lives, or upcoming events that they are looking forward to. It's also a way to connect with others in a more meaningful way than a simple few words in a text. And can be a true blessing to the person receiving the letter.
I have used letter writing as a ministry at different times in my life when my time was so filled with the activities of my children and my work that I did not have time to go out in my community and volunteer my time. I enjoy writing and feel it is a strength that I can use to convey God's love and caring for others in the world. It can be done around my schedule. Letter writing is something that can be done late at night, or while waiting in the dentist's office for your child's teeth to be cleaned. It can be done while waiting for your daughter to get out of dance class, or while waiting for your son to finish football practice. If a writer feels they have poor penmanship, a letter can be typed on the computer and printed easily enough. It doesn't matter that the letter was not hand written. What matters is the content of the letter, and that someone took the time to share their thoughts on paper with the recipient.
The following is a list of ways to use letter writing as a ministry to reach out to others:
Write to Soldiers
Adopt a U.S. soldier and write to them through the Soldier's Angels organization. Soldier's Angels are people who volunteer to write to a current soldier serving in the U.S. military. They have either signed up for the program on their own because they don't get many letters from home, or possibly a commanding officer has signed them up for the program because they noticed a lack of mail coming in for him or her, and feels the soldier could use a moral boost. When writing for Soldier's Angels, you must agree to write at least one letter or card each week, and send a monthly care package to your soldier. Care packages can be purchased from the Soldier's Angel's website, or you can put your own package together. There is a list of suggested needs of soldiers on the website. You may find out more about Soldier's Angels by going to the website at http://www.soldiersangels.org/
Or you can write to soldiers who are in 6-week boot camps. Boot camp can be a very tough experience as it is the first step one experiences after joining the military. Often mail is the highlight of the new soldier's day. If you hear of someone who is in boot camp, just offer to send them a card or write a note to them while they are there. And don't forget to thank them for their service to our country.
Write to an Elderly Relative
Many of us have elderly relatives that live far away and can't be visited by an in-person visit very often due to the geographical distance. They very much appreciate receiving mail from a loved one, as it keeps them in touch with family, and makes them feel more connected to the world. My husband's uncle John wrote letters often, filled with scripture and told of his daily activities in response to letters my husband wrote to him. It was his way of sharing his blessings and Godly advice with someone he loved, and I am sure it made him feel loved to receive the letters, and useful to write back.
Write Love Letters to Your Spouse
This is a way to minister to your married partner which will go a long way in terms of keeping your marriage fresh and to show your love to your spouse in a way not usually associated with marriage. But sharing your love in the written word of a letter periodically is a wonderful way to uphold your wedding vows which probably included, " I promise to love, honor and cherish you..." A love letter is a wonderful way to show your spouse that you cherish them, and can be a very positive addition to a long term relationship. Love letters prevent people from taking each other for granted because they show appreciation for your husband/wife.
Don't have time for a whole love letter? Then write your spouse or significant other just a love note...one or two sentences as to why you love and appreciate them. Then put it in a place where they are sure to see it or hide it so they will find it at an unexpected time. Either way, it will be a blessing to them and bring the two of you closer together.
Adopt a Nursing Home Resident
You can call a nursing home and ask if there is a resident who doesn't get much mail. You will be connected to a person who would be more than happy to receive letters from you. This is especially good if you have children who are involved in activities such as school, sports, dance, etc. so that you can relay interesting anecdotes about their activities and funny things they may have said.
Write to a Missionary
If you go to church, there is a very good chance that your church supports missionaries that are serving God somewhere in the world. Many of these missionaries are far from home and would appreciate receiving mail. A missionary's day can be a long one, far away in a strange land, and knowing that someone cares for them, and is praying for them back home is a reassurance to them that they are doing the right thing even when things are difficult. If you aren't sure who your church supports for missionaries, ask your Pastor.
Write to a College Student
Do you have any college students in your family? A son or daughter, niece or nephew? Someone from your church perhaps? Do you remember being in college and going to your mailbox looking for mail and finding it empty? Writing to a college student is a blessing to them. Especially if you can periodically tuck little things in with your card or letter...a joke you read on the internet that you printed for them to enjoy. A coupon for a free candy bar. A $5 bill or a gift card. Anything you can send will be appreciated, especially just before exams. It just lets the student know you are thinking of them, and praying that their exams go well. It can be a very stressful time for college students and to know someone is thinking about them can help a great deal. This is especially true of those college students far from home who can't come back to visit on a regular basis due to finances.
Express Your Gratitude
Each week, or month, pick a person in your life who has made a difference and thank them for it. The list could be long and varied. It could range anywhere from your parent, to your Pastor, to your doctor, one of your children's teachers, etc. Receiving a letter of gratitude is so unusual it will go a very long way in helping the recipient feel blessed, and that they matter in the world.
Now that you have some ideas on who to write to, go buy some stamps, envelopes, some nice paper, or even just notebook paper, and start writing a letter to bless someone's life. You will probably find that the act will bless your life as well. In fact, sometimes I have written a letter to someone and by the time they receive it, they will sometimes call to thank me or send me an email thanking me, and by that time I have forgotten all about it. So it becomes a blessing to ME when they call to say how much they appreciated it. Showing your love or appreciation to someone can never be a bad thing and spreads a lot of love around! I challenge you to go write a letter today!
Do you write letters to people in your life?
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