Friday, July 5, 2013

Partnering in the Great Commission

I think its safe to say that Paul was the most effective missionary in the history of the church, just a hunch I have. Beyond the journeys that he took into Europe and Asia Minor, his words have been left long after his execution in Rome and they will continue to spread the message of the Gospel until Christ's return. We'll just say he has quite the legacy as a minister.

One of those letters of his that we can continue to receive revelation and encouragement from is the New Testament book "Philippians." It was in his letter to the church in Philippi that he penned such famous words as "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (1:6) and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (4:13). 

Interestingly, the context of those two verses and the nature of the whole letter itself was a thank you to the church for their support and partnership in the Gospel. Read it for yourselves...

Philippians 1:3-7
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 

Philippians 4:10-16

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.

In August of 2009, I returned to California from my internship under Global-EFFECT in Tanzania. I returned with an opportunity that was beyond my wildest dreams, I had been offered a spot as a missionary focusing on orphan care in the country that was so dear to my heart. I now had five months to fundraise and prepare to return to Tanzania the following January.

All of a sudden, I was doing my best to raise funds and share what the Lord had placed before me. There were moments of elation and others of utter frustration. There were times where I didn't know how I was going to pay my rent in Long Beach, much less reach my fundraising goal for the orphanage. I had flights ahead of me, language school, groceries, rent and my dreaded student loans, all of which were requiring funds that I wasn't going to generate by simply ministering to orphans.

And yet it happened. God raised up fellow ministers around me that supported me and partnered in that work. I felt a little bit like Paul when he wrote to the Philippian church way back when; not only because of the appreciation but also because I could look forward to "the fruit that abounds to your account." (4:17)

There is this perception that fundraising is the downside to being a missionary. The 'good' missionaries aren't just effective at sharing the gospel, but they're also gifted in marketing. While there are moments of frustration and feeling like you need to sell church-goers something, I choose to believe something else about the fundraising portion of being a missionary.

We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission in various ways. Most are called to discipling people in their own homeland, some are called to travel far away to share the good news, yet all are called to send and support others. The calling of God isn't lugubrious or depressing, its exciting. As we've been back over the last year, we've been able to support missionaries to Norway, Scotland and Tanzania. Its a blessing to be an answer to somebody else's prayer!

We get to partner in the work of the Kingdom of God together. That is awesome! God brings His body together to do different roles that lead to a common goal, fulfilling the Great Commission and seeing His Kingdom and His glory go forth. When Paul talks about fellowship in the verse above, he isn't talking about eating donuts together in between services. He's talking about advancing the Kingdom together, that's what financial supporters do. The senders partner with the go-ers to spread Jesus' message.

I know what you're thinking, I'm working up to my sales pitch, I don't have one! Read Matthew 28:18-20, that's the best I've got. The Stiver family is heading back to Tanzania to make disciples, to care for orphans, to see His Kingdom come to earth. We'd love for you to play a part in what God has already ordained. Of course, we need financial supporters, we have all the same needs that your family has and those needs require money. We trust in God's provision and the saints that He is once again assembling around us. If you want to find out more or are ready to play a role. Hop on over to Get Involved or Give to find out how. Just as Paul thanked the Philippian church, we thank you for your prayers, your aid and your partnership.

Let's build this kingdom together,



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