During Paul’s second missionary journey, Paul received a vision from God which prompted him to go to Macedonia in Acts 16. It was in the chief city of this region, in Philippi, that Paul established the first church. Through a span of 10 years from the beginnings of this church, the Philippians had significant partnership in Paul’s missionary work. Paul writes in his letter to the church about their ‘partnership in the gospel from the first day until now’ (Philippians 1:5). We can learn a lot through Paul’s partnership with the Philippian church.
A&S who are now serving in Central Asia are also an example of being the very first workers to be sent from their local church to serve cross-culturally overseas. After speaking with them, we came up with 3 helpful ways to partner with your local church.
- Before being sent, be involved
Becoming active members of your church can involve being faithful to weekly bible study or community groups, being involved in the fellowship of Sunday church services to serving in ministries and connecting and walking alongside members of your church in their faith journey.
A demonstration of your commitment to your home or sending church will open doors for people in your congregation to witness your faithfulness and your character. Being involved will not only help people get behind your vision, but will give time for them to be encouraged by your ministry to them, to also have witnessed God’s kingdom work in your life which will then also prepare them for getting behind you and sending you.
In terms of next steps, why not speak with your pastor about being given the opportunity to visit many different Bible study groups in order to begin sharing what God has placed in your heart, your vision for mission and God’s leading in your life? This is a great way to start developing partnership early on, regardless of where you are at in your journey of preparing to go.
For many in the Philippian church, Paul was so dear to them because through his involvement in planting the church he walked alongside people, encouraging them in the faith. In Philippians 4:10, Paul says ‘How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again’, and in verse 15, Paul writes ‘As you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you only.’ The church’s commitment to Paul would have been a reflection on Paul’s commitment to them from the beginning. So, like Paul, before being sent, be ready to be involved in the life and ministry of your church.
- Develop a Home Team
A ‘Home Team’ consists of a group of core individuals who can be your bedrock of spiritual support and accountability. This can include brothers and sisters who can lift you up in the daily joys and hardships in a personal and direct way. Your ‘Home Team’ can be there to not only represent you within your home church whilst you are overseas, but also care for you spiritually and also with practical needs such as postal services, help with SIM cards, Australian legalities and the like.
Why not start your ‘Home Team’ now by praying for God to raise up core believers who can partner with you as you send updates, no matter where you are on your journey of preparing to go overseas. You can do this by starting a WhatsApp or Signal group chat where you can share your updates with these core individuals regularly as God leads you and prepares you in your journey.
- Partner by Praying & Sharing life regularly
James 5:16 writes ‘The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ Partnering through prayer with others is crucial for God’s kingdom work to be done. It is through prayer that we are invited into a space to depend on and rely upon God, through in him we can do nothing.
A&S both shared that when it comes to prayer, it is important to ‘Preserve our own heart for Him, his Gospel, his word, his goals and his kingdom,’ and that ‘Our hearts for the nations must be an overflow of prayer.’
You can be creative in the ways that you partner in prayer and share your life regularly. Whether that be through a wider WhatsApp or Signal chat with praying partners, newsletters, vlogs, Zoom or video chats every couple of months, using other technologies and/or continuing to be invited to home church bible studies whilst overseas through Zoom.
Be willing to share how God is not only working amongst your ministry, but how God is shaping your heart, what He is teaching you in the season that you are in and how He is growing you in being more and more like Jesus. Partnership can also be a two-way street. Invite others to share how they might be requesting prayer at this time.
As you begin to partner, share and pray, God might even be gracious enough to raise more and more individuals to be even more set apart for the gospel, raising people with a burning sense of conviction for the heart of the world, and potentially mobilise others to grow in their concern, conviction and involvement in the Great Commission and perhaps even one day joining you on the field.
‘We really see it as a privilege and honour to have been the first ones ever sent from our gathering and our hope and prayer is that through our example God would raise others from the congregation who will also eventually be sent to join us in this work of taking his truth to the ends of the world.’ A&S