People who are passionate about rock climbing, rodeo, racing, or motorcycles would rather spend their weekends and vacations doing those things than attending a church. And some are members of the professional circuit, traveling to ride bulls or bikes for weeks or months at a time. Through a shared interest, chaplains are able to share the gospel and conduct worship services. They also create fellowship opportunities for those who already know Jesus and provide pastoral care during times of need.
People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender need to hear how much Jesus loves them. They also need to know biblical truth about human sexuality. Who better to minister to them than a U.S. missionary who has personally experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit for themselves in the area of sexual or gender identity! In addition to direct ministry, U.S. missionaries work to teach local churches to respond appropriately to the LGBTQ community.
Many people want to learn more about the Bible or earn ministerial credentials, but they want-or need-to continue living, working, and volunteering while they study. U.S. missionaries work with Assemblies of God district leadership to help facilitate schools of ministry in places ranging from urban centers to rural Alaska. U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries also operates Native American Bible College in North Carolina and American Indian College in Arizona.
In the United States, over 400,000 children are in foster care. When children "age out" of the system they are at high risk for homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, or human trafficking. A caring foster family or a mentor can make all the difference, yet many Christians don't feel up to the task or simply don't realize the need. Several U.S. missionaries provide mentorship and other help directly to kids entering the foster care system or aging out. U.S. missionaries also educate church members about how to support and encourage foster families, mentor youth in group homes, or even become foster parents themselves. They also help churches build relationships with their local youth agencies.
Over 18% of the adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety or depression. Record numbers of Americans take medication or receive treatment for some type of mental illness. But many do not attend church, fearing stigma or misunderstanding. How can the church help? Do mental health patients want to be included in church activities and fellowship? Mental health chaplains can help answer these questions. Some chaplains minister directly in a clinical setting with people suffering from mental illness. Others work to raise awareness and equip churches to reach out to suffering members of the community.
Over one-half of Americans are affected by disability, either themselves or that of a family member. And many of those people or families are not actively involved in church. Many churches do not have adequate facilities to accommodate special needs and some simply don't know how to respond. But several U.S. missionaries are working to change that! U.S. missionary teams offer training and certification for churches to become more disability-friendly. Other missionaries have established sensory-friendly youth programs and care centers. Still others conduct summer camps for people with disabilities and their families. U.S. missionaries want people affected by disability to realize how special they are to God!
It isn't comfortable to think about not having basic pantry items, a decent pair of shoes, or your own toothbrush. This is common in America's rural communities, along with hopelessness and substance abuse. U.S. missionaries network with caring partners to equip rural churches to bless their communities. They may distribute food, backpacks of school supplies, new shoes, or encourage rural schoolteachers with gift cards and supplies. But most of all, they share the gospel and offer hope. Some U.S. missionaries operate job training centers, medical clinics, summer camps, or addiction recovery programs. Their goal is to help America's rural poor see how much God loves them and learn to use the talents He gave them.
Through school assemblies and educational seminars for teachers, medical personnel, and youth workers, U.S. missionaries raise awareness and encourage people to speak up. Some U.S. missionaries are also engaged in full-fledged rescue and restoration ministry. They send trained teams into high-risk areas and work with local and federal law enforcement. After victims are rescued, these missionaries connect them with caring recovery ministry, job training, and other services they need.