“How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me” – Philippians 4:10 (NIV).
The early church recognized that among its members were those whom the Lord had blessed with certain unique gifts, one of which was going out to share the Good News to the rest of the known world. “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon.. Lucius ..and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:1-3).
Hence, started an old tradition where a church sends out some among its own to distant parts to share the Gospel. It is of course only obvious that those who go out to the mission field need resources to enable them carry on with the task. Paul once wrote to the Philippians “for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need” (Philippians 4: 16).
Sometimes though this aid was not forthcoming, which did not mean for Paul to abandon his ministry. He looked for means to survive. Thus he noted to the church in Thessalonica, “Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). At certain point he teamed up with a couple, Aquilla and Priscilla, “and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them” (Acts 18:3).
Just as it were then even today there are those among us whom the Lord has called to share the Good News, near and far. Some of these work in churches, para- church organizations or out without the cover of any particular organization but solely dependent on aid from God’s people wherever they be. On occasion they send out news reports of their work. But like the Scottish missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873), who due to long absence from home was once thought dead in Africa, there are times when no news is forthcoming.
It is called upon believers to support these missionaries, as the Lord enables, send them notes of encouragement and regularly uphold them in our personal prayers. If they happen to visit back home on sabbatical let us open up our homes for their refreshment and to receive the mutual blessings of their work on the mission field.
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I thank you for the work of missionaries, out on the field, and I pray to support them, as you provide, for your kingdom’s sake.