by Pastor Jason Esguerra
The Partnering Church
PREPARE THEM ROOM
So if you consider me your partner… Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
What will a church do to a field missionary? What makes a church a real sending church that results to a vital relationship between them and the missionary? Is the church’s participation only limited to missions funding and prayer which are, no question, so important to missions work?
Let me deal first with relationship, the groundwork.
Paul, one of the greatest missionaries ever called by God, took this partnership seriously and sincerely. He called Philemon, a leader of a church, a “partner” and a “brother.” This then reiterates this kind of relationship between the church and the missionary. The immediate context of this letter of Paul to Philemon is to affirm brotherly kindness among them and that through it Onesimus will be given grace and granted forgiveness from his earthly master-brother Philemon. Amazing this story indeed but it reflects how a missionary should view his/her partner ministry. Likewise, this kind of relationship should always exist between the church and the missionary.
When it comes to gospel missions, we really need this committed relationship. Paul greatly saw how important for him to be supported and connected with the church. As members and leaders of Guiding Light Christian Church, we take this committed relationship with our missionaries and workers seriously because we know that we are not only accountable to God but we also see ourselves as partners with them. Though not physically with them laboring among these unreached people groups, WE ARE ONE WITH THEM in many occasions of growth and partnership. We value their work, pray hard with them, graciously sacrifice time and effort to encourage them. We share in both their joy and also in their pain and suffering.
I have to admit that we still have a lot of things to learn and unlearn as a church. But what Paul mentioned to Philemon; our response is “we will prepare room for them.”
Thus, we are giving these series of articles to help us as a local church be truly engaged with our missionaries for the Gospel work among the nations.