Although missionaries return back to the states for a visit or to begin the next season of their lives throughout the year, the summer months that are now upon us are when the vast majority of them make the journey back to America.
As important as returning “home” is for missionaries, the time they spend in the community where they lived prior to departure is also crucially important for their home church.
Because their presence back in that area provides a simple yet hugely significant opportunity for the leaders and members of their “home” church to express a key component of Sending Well–meeting the multi-faceted practical needs of missionaries that God brings in to your local sphere of influence.
But that’s not the only reason.
Based on what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, (Phil. 1:3-5) Shepherd’s Staff is also convinced that by meeting the practical needs of missionaries that visit their local area, the members of a church become both partners/participants in the spread of the Gospel that is taking place through the missionary’s efforts.
Phil 1:3-5 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
As the text makes clear, Paul told the Philippians that what provoked joy in him as he thanked and prayed for them was their partnership in the Gospel “…from the first day until now”.
Which generates this logical question:
What did any of the Philippians do on the first day he met them, that moved Paul to believe that they had become partners in the Gospel?
According to Acts 16:15, Lydia, a Gentile woman of wealth that had become a follower of the God of Israel, surrendered to Jesus, was baptized, and then exhorted Paul and Silas to stay at her house. And as 16:40 describes, they went back to her house after being jailed, beaten, and then released, prior to continuing on with their travels.
Paul understood, taught, and acted as if taking the Gospel to the nations is a body of Christ endeavor that needs more than just the obedience of those who obey the call to go.
By God’s design, success in global missions also requires the involvement of the members of a local church and the variety of resources that He has apportioned to them.
When the members of a local church learn that our Missionary God considers those who help missionaries in practical ways as partners and participants in His global, “end game” purposes, they are usually more than happy to help in ways like these:
–Providing a comfortable place for missionaries to stay while they are in the area
–Supplying the missionary with a vehicle to use while they are in the area or even when they need to travel to distant places to share about their work on the field.
–Purchasing gift cards for the missionary that can be used for groceries, restaurants, clothing, and so forth
–Connecting them with doctors, dentists, optometrists, or other health care professionals that may be willing to provide either discounted or free services for them.
The ideas listed above are some of the more common ways the members of a local church can contribute to their church’s efforts to Send Well.
Shepherd’s Staff has discovered that when the need is made known and God’s perception of those who meet those needs is comprehended by His people in a local church, there’s no end to the creative ways they’ll find to become partners in the Gospel.
Photo by Quino Al at unsplash.com