One of the most incredible aspects of the Christian life is the unity of the body of Christ and our call to work together with common goals and pursuits. While this is true all throughout life, we have come to find out how strikingly true it is and must be in the world of missions. God uses His people to accomplish His purposes. The job of getting the gospel to the deepest and darkest places around the world is by no means an individual task. It requires teamwork on an eternal, supernatural scale.
This is why we believe God has lead us to develop ministry partnerships.
What is partnership development?
It is the process of giving others the opportunity to partner with us in the ministry God has called us to, whether through finances, prayer, encouragement, or all of the above. It also involves building and strengthening relationships that are centered on the common goal of expanding the reach of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.
Many people have asked the question: “Why take the extra time to personally raise your own support when that time can be used on the field, doing what you’re called to do?”
That is a great question and here are a few reasons why we have decided to do it this way.
It is a Biblical Principle
One of the main reasons why we do partnership development is that it is a clear principle laid out in the Word of God.
We see it in the Old Testament. The Levitical priests (or ministers) were supported by the rest of God’s people, allowing them to give their full attention to the workings of the temple.
I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’ (Numbers 18:24).
Our very own Lord and Savior did not shy away from this approach to his own ministry. We see that even the God-man, Jesus Christ, allowed his physical needs to be met by others who were willing to partner with him.
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means (Luke 8:1-3 NAS).
Paul, being encouraged and lifted up by the Philippians, declares their gift to be a “fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:19)” Paul does not view receiving or giving gifts and support as a shameful necessity, but as an act of worship. Not only that, but God is pleased and delights in the sacrifice.
It is a Personal Investment
There are many methods and techniques to raising support and sustaining missionaries on the field that are utilized by countless organizations around the world. This is not a critique of these different methods, only an explanation of why we chose the method we did.
By raising our own support and building relationships, we have the privilege of knowing our supporters and prayer partners personally. It allows us to communicate, update, pray for, and share with individuals as they give according to their means and beyond. This is an area that I need much growth in. It requires stepping out in faith and investing in others’ lives. Just like any relationship, it requires concentrated, focused intentionality. We fall short of this many times, but we are continuing to trust God to grow us and break down our man-made boundaries.
Paul calls the Philippian believers “partners” or “co-workers” in the spreading of the gospel.
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5 NLT)
This is the model we are looking at and striving for. We consider our supporters as co-workers in the truest sense. Just because we are there and they are here does not negate the fact that we are all working together with the same goal. Just as corporations have employees and offices all around the globe working for the same company with the same purpose, so it is with everyone who is involved with missions, whether church planters, trainers, prayer partners, or financial supporters.
Paul again expounds on the benefits and motivations for supporting missionaries as the Philippians aided his ministry:
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” – Philippians 4:17
It is not so much about the gift as it is the mutual fruit and growth that comes from partnering together and being used by God for the expansion of the gospel around the world. What a radical view this is in our modern world, which clings to tangible, outward results as a measure of success instead of an inward, spiritual growth.
It Strengthens Faith
The factor that has impacted us the most in this endeavor is seeing God’s provision on a day-to-day basis. As we share about our ministry, we are depending on the Lord to lead others to partner with us. This is much easier said than done. In fact, the most humbling moments that have led us to praise and worship have been when God supplied our needs in the face of our doubts and fears. When we have stopped leaning on Him because of seeming uncertainty, attempting to take things into our own hands, He has always been there to gently remind us of who we are and who He is as our Shepherd and Provider.
Seeing God work in this way has increased faith in ways that would not be possible if our organization raised support for us. We are now able to share this with others and with those who support us as an encouragement for their own walk with the Lord.
Let me be as real as possible. There have been more questions and doubts on this journey than I’d expected. This has nothing to do with God’s ability to provide, but only with my feeble heart and unbelief. Most of what I have written is the ideal and does not always characterize our own journey. We strive for the biblical pattern, the one that gives the most glory to God. As we do this, we have to daily confess our tendency to take control and figure things out on our own.
My goal is to encourage you to see the benefits of raising support and how it is much more than a necessary, mundane task that must be done for missionaries to function on the field. It is a way for the body to grow together. It is a way for everyone to have an eternal impact in the world, seeing the unreached reached with the gospel. It is a way, I am convinced, that brings glory to God as the sole provider of our needs.
It is a way to gaze at God’s promise and make it our own:
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
– Jake Posey