Us you pray “Us four, no more, forever more, Amen?” What about others outside your family, your assembly, and even your country? Do you have a mind for missionaries?
“Your Fellowship” (Philippians 1:5)
What is the connection between you and a missionary 3000 miles away speaking a language you don’t understand, eating food you wouldn’t taste, and struggling with a culture you can’t imagine?
Take a look at a bicycle wheel. The connection of all the spokes is that they are attached to the same hub in the middle. The common connection between you and all the missionaries you support is that the same Lord, Who saved you, saved them as well.
But the connection was even more specific for the Philippian Christians. They supported missionaries who shared the same gospel and doctrine. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he never corrected any wrong practice or doctrine. He believed what they believed; he practiced what they practiced. He thanked God for their “fellowship in the gospel,” for the common ground of truth they shared.
So which missionaries preach the same gospel and teach the same doctrine that you hold? Supporting the preservation and proclamation of truth according to the Bible will be part of your way of “striving together with one mind for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
“Your Prayers” (Philippians 1:19)
Loneliness is expected on the mission field. After all, leaving your family, friends, country, and customs is not easy. There is one comparatively easy and essential way to support mission work. Before you take a step, send a dime, or make a call, get on your knees.
As a missionary, Paul greatly appreciated the prayers of God’s people in Philippi. To know that others were talking to God about him, buoyed his spirit and emboldened him to share the gospel. The true model for prayer for missionary work is this: Paul wrote, “I pray” (Philippians 1:9). Then he wrote about “your prayers” (1:19). He prayed for them and they prayed for him. They were on the same page in their prayers for one another.
So if you are going to pray intelligently and specifically for a missionary work, you need to know what is happening there. Write a letter, send an email, or make a call. The Christians in Philippi had communicated with Paul about their situation. Can you imagine their prayer meetings after receiving his letter? Now they could pray about his imprisonment, his opposition, his afflictions, etc.
So why not get a map or get on-line and do some research on a mission work. Perhaps you will learn that transportation is rugged or dangerous. Perhaps you will learn of political struggles or security concerns. Have you written to a missionary and asked for two specific items that you could pray about? There is a joy for the believer who communicates with the missionary and then communicates with God about the missionary.
“Your Messenger” (Philippians 2:25)
Looking forward to your summer vacation? Many a young person has saved his money to make a trip to see and help a mission work. But be prepared. It may be the best vacation you will ever take!
The Philippians sent (check with your brethren first) a man named Epaphroditus to see Paul in his missionary work. He was their messenger; not to be nosey, but knowledgeable. If you went to Bolivia, Beirut, or Botswana, what kind of influence would you have?
The best visitor to a missionary work is someone with compassion, not criticism. Go with a true interest to learn about the work and the spread of the gospel. Epaphroditus did not just snap digital pictures. He went with his sleeves rolled up, his work gloves on, and a desire to help in any way he could. But you don’t speak Swahili, Spanish, or Mandarin? How could you help if you don’t speak the language?
You could give out Seed Sowers, paint a Hall, sew some clothes, draw some posters, fix a vehicle, cook a meal, drive a car, take a blood pressure, set up a computer program, . . . and the list goes on and on. What skills do you have that you could offer to a missionary for a week? Paul said Epaphroditus was “a minister to my wants.” Epaphroditus looked around and looked to God to see Paul’s needs and the needs of people in the work. Then he gave his all to meet those needs.
Will it cost you? Maybe your clothes will get ruined, your hands will have calluses, your feet will have blisters, or maybe you will have to take antibiotics for intestinal trouble. Epaphroditus was “sick nigh unto death,” but with no regrets for committing himself to missionary work.
“Your Care” (Philippians 4:10)
Paul singled out the Philippian Christians as being models for giving. He said they “gave unto my necessity.” They did not send fur coats to the jungles or swim suits to the tundra. They identified the needs and provided the essentials. Maybe a missionary needs Bibles, tracts, clothes, books, medicine, food, computers, paint, or tools. Upon determining the need, seek the best way to help. Maybe you can send materials or take them yourself. Maybe it is best to send money so materials can be bought on the mission field.
So, maybe you have five days or five months. Maybe you have fifty cents or fifty dollars. Maybe you have five abilities or fifty? Whatever you have, use it! You will never regret your investment of time, energy, and money as you make the choice and face the challenge of “The Missionaries You Support.”