By Not Known
During recent days we have hosted several visitors from one of our regional mission partnerships. These people came from a difficult and an remote area where to be Christian is to be in a distinct minority and to be under a real and constant threat of persecution. They are humble folk who had not had the life opportunities common to most of us. But they are our brothers and sisters in the Lord and thus we welcome them as equals and count it a joy to be identified with them.
It has been our privilege to host these people. Some ORPC worshippers have taken them into their homes. Others have hosted meals. Others again have given their time and everyday professional expertise and experience to help train these visitors in various self-help projects. This fits with a wider pattern where a number of both younger and older church members give of themselves to go to this remote area and serve our brothers and sisters in the faith. This partnership has been, and remains, a rare hands-on mission experience for the congregation at large.
This is a positive experience on both sides as we are blessed by contact with these folk and as they are blessed by us. As such it links with some themes as the Scripture talks about the work of the gospel.
Gospel work is suffering work (2 Tim 1:8,12). It is a shared work in which we stand and suffer with brothers and sisters from other places. Far from being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus, or of suffering fellow-believers, we are to be shameless and proud. The reasons for this are clear: the shameful and foolish message of Christ crucified and raised for our salvation is God’s power for salvation (1 Cor 1:22-24).
Gospel work is difficult and sometimes dangerous in places such as those our visitors come from. However, we are to persist for the gospel brings life and immortality (2 Tim 1:10). In all this our confidence is in God’s enabling, for it is he who gives the grace of the gospel, who sent Jesus to enact it and who is more than able to guard the gospel trust (2 Tim 1:9,10,12).
The difficulties and dangers of gospel work mean that we sometimes share the discouraging experience of seeing people desert the field (eg 1 Tim 1:15). Let us be like the largely unknown figure on Onesiphorus who remained a loyal gospel partner (1 Tim 1:16-17).
The Lord will give us gospel opportunities. So let us be sure that we guard the faith and remain heralds, apostles and teachers of the sound words that bring life (2 Tim 1:11,13,14).