As a busy working mom with a large family, I often feel overwhelmed by the commitments of my daily life and feel that I do not reach out to others in ministry as much as I would like to. I took this concern to the Lord in prayer. It went something like this - “Dear God, you know how busy and crazy my life is (or at least I perceive it to be), and that I really want to be part of a ministry to serve others. What can I do that won’t pull me away from my responsibilities to my family, but will allow me to minister to others in a tangible way?”
The answer I received was to use my talents (writing/card making) to start a “card writing ministry,” sending notes of encouragement to those in need.
This answer resonated deep in my heart because years ago I was going through a very difficult season in my life. I needed a lot of encouragement just to get through the day. During this time, I received in the mail several hand written notes from friends and acquaintances. These cards were written just to encourage me and let me know I was being thought of and prayed for. They brought a smile to my face and somehow my struggles didn’t seem as heavy anymore. I have saved these precious cards and often pull them out and reread them. My heart is always touched that someone cared enough to take the time to find a nice card, write a personal note, and then send it to me.
As I was touched and blessed by the cards sent to me, I want to bless others in the same way. God has now given me a direction to do so.
The wonderful thing about starting a card writing ministry is that you can do it anytime, from anywhere. You do not have to abandon your family and it is actually a good example to have your children witness this and learn to do likewise. But most importantly, it is needed. The Bible teaches, in Hebrews 3:13 (NIV), “But encourage one another other DAILY, as long as it is called TODAY...” I want to be obedient to God’s word.
An added benefit to this ministry? I believe it is great therapy for the writer. When I send someone a card, I have so much fun either picking it out or creating it. It takes my mind off my problems as I think about the joy it will bring to the recipient. Plus it gets me into scripture, as I look for verses to include in my cards.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
Step One: THE ESSENTIAL PART: PRAY
The most important step of all is this: Pray. Ask God to place someone on your heart. Just start with one person. When God gives you a name, you will know it. I often will sit in church on a Sunday and I’ll see someone and I will sense the Holy Spirit tell me they could use an encouraging word. Sometimes it is someone I know well; often it is someone I am only acquainted with.
However, do not be limited to those in your church. God has recently put someone on my heart who is not a Christian. I admit it’s easier to reach out to those like us, but far more challenging to reach out to those outside our circles. I do not believe that a kind word sent out in love is ever a bad thing.
Step Two: THE FUN PART- PICKING OUT THE CARD
My favorite thing about writing cards is picking them out or making them. I can entertain myself for hours at the card shop reading all the cards. I also love being creative and can spend hours creating my own cards. Some I will make on the computer, using my own photographs, others I make using fun papers or fabric and thread.
Whether you prefer to purchase your cards or make them, think about the person you are sending the card to. What is their personality? Are they funny or serious? If they are really serious, send them a funny card! I love funny cards, and I am a very serious person. I think a funny card will bring a smile to the recipients face and lighten their mood. Then you can write something serious. To me, this is better than sending a serious card and then trying to say something funny yourself. When in doubt, be conservative. Most times, a pretty note card will do just fine.
Step Three: THE HARD PART - WRITING THE MESSAGE
Once you have your card, you’re half-way there! Now comes the hard part for most of us. What to say? My advice, pray first for the right words and then start writing. People want to hear from your heart, not something generic.
Always begin with addressing the person by name - “Dear Alice…”. Then follow with your message. You do not have to write a lot, but do write enough to show it’s personal and that you care. It can be as simple as “I am thinking of you and believing in you”, or as long as you wish. Write like you are talking to the person. Acknowledge the struggle they are going through and include a prayer for them. I personally like to add a scripture to the card that speaks to their situation, but remember, this is not a place to get preachy.
The last part of the writing is the sign-off. This is always a little challenging for me. Do I use “love” or “from” or “sincerely”? How about going to scripture for some inspiration? The apostle Paul always closed his letters with a blessing. For example, his closing in the book of Philemon says “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (NIV). Go ahead, be endearing and sign-off with a blessing.
Step Four: THE EASY PART - SENDING THE CARD
Now for the easy part: Put the card in the envelope, address it, put a stamp on it (let’s support the US Postal Office!) and send it on its way.
Congratulations, you have just begun your own card writing ministry! I pray God will bless you as you minister to others.
A Final Note
When sending cards to people don’t expect a response back from them. You may desire to hear that they received it and were touched and that your efforts were appreciated. Or you want them to write back and do likewise for you. That usually doesn’t happen. But that is OK, because you are doing this out of love to encourage someone. You are giving a gift that needs no reciprocation.