Phil 1:3-5 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…..
The Lord used Paul and Silas to plant the church in the city of Philippi, (Acts 16:11-40).
When Paul and Silas departed from Philippi after the church had been established, this local church supported and encouraged him in his missions endeavors from that time forward. At the time he is writing the letter to the Philippians many years later, he’s in prison.
As you read the whole letter, it’s very obvious that the church in Philippi blessed Paul as if he was one of their own–as if they were his HOME church!
Over the years, I’ve used the book of Philippians as a model for how churches and especially the HOME churches of missionaries can and should express their love for their own members that God calls to the mission field.
But providing a good model for church TO missionary relations isn’t all that’s revealed through what Paul writes to this healthy, world-impacting church.
It also unveils these two crucial facets of missionary TO church relations:
1. He tells them that every time they enter his mind, he THANKS God for them (vs 3)
2. And that he PRAYS for them (vs.4).
Now a missionary telling their HOME church or a supporting church that they thank God for them and pray for them might not sound like such a big deal, but surprisingly, it is.
As sad as it to say this, of the literally hundreds of missionaries I know, I’ve only heard a very small percentage of them tell me that they have communicated to their HOME or supporting churches how thankful they are for them and that they pray for them.
Which is strange, because every missionary rightly appreciates being thanked by their HOME church for their obedience to God’s call, and they certainly love and cherish being prayed for.
So here are three things I like to challenge missionaries to do:
1. I exhort them to ask the Lord to help them see how their HOME or supporting churches have expressed His love for them through the church, and then give Him thanks for it.
2. I challenge them to begin praying on a daily basis for those churches as churches.
3. I encourage them to communicate their thankfulness and the fact they are praying for the church in written form to the leadership of their HOME church or supporting churches.
When thankfulness and prayer are communicated from churches to missionaries and then from missionaries to the churches that send and support them, that completed cycle provokes joy for everyone involved and reflects a unity in Jesus that brings glory to Him among the nations.
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