Originally published February 28, 2022
Ever since I can remember studying God’s Word, I’ve loved Ephesians 4, but studying it more in depth and with a group of ladies over the past few weeks has given it even more meaning. I tend to think of unity as something that happens when we work hard to achieve it, the equivalent of teamwork. But the unity Paul is describing here is something different. He does say “make every effort”, but it’s to “keep” the unity we already have through the Spirit. We, as those who have placed our faith in Christ, all have the same God and Father, we’re all part of one body, filled with the same Spirit. He loves us all equally.
When we consider that, the last part of the chapter where God, through Paul, is asking us to do what is best for others makes sense. Don’t lie, tell the truth. Don’t let anger control you, forgive, be kind and compassionate. Don’t steal, but work so that you can share with others. Say only what is beneficial to others and builds them up. Parents, I’m sure you’re hoping the same for your children, that they would put one another before themselves.
Someone in my Bible study group pointed out that really, to act in these ways, we each individually have to be consistently connected to and dependent on Christ— that’s how we “keep” unity and overcome acting only in our own interests. But then in our unity, we’re able to connect with one another in a way that brings maturity. We need each other if we want to become mature in our walks with the Lord.
I can see that in so many aspects of my life and ministry here— even in this study through Ephesians, I’ve gained so much as the other ladies share their perspectives. This happens too in the missionary care discussion groups I lead with mission leaders from churches nation-wide. They could each say, “Oh, I’m good on my own, we’re doing a good job” (and I occasionally have someone I contact who thinks that way), but there is so much to be gained from learning from one another. At the Ladies’ Debriefing Retreats that I facilitate, we all grow from sharing in each other’s journeys.
Right before Paul talks about the unity of the spirit and becoming mature as a body, he talks about being humble, gentle, patient and bearing with one another in love. You don’t learn those things in isolation! So, I’m valuing the way the Lord uses us, no matter where we are, in each other’s lives, whether it be through resolving conflict or sharing truth, to grow us to be more like Him. I have a friend on another continent who shared recently how incredible it is that the Lord is all the time teaching each of us unique things, that He meets us each where we are and grows us toward being more Christ-like. Not only is that amazing, but He also uses each of us to share what He’s taught us, to grow the whole body toward maturity. That’s extra amazing!
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called . . . So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4: 2-4, 11-13, 16
Top left: Maybe you remember how last year around this time I was super sad about co-workers in the IT department leaving? Well we’re back together again! And we’ve added one since this photo was taken. Made up of four nationalities and very focused on our individual tasks, it’s good for us to gather together outside of work for fun and food.
Bottom left: I’ve been trying to host game nights during the week. Here they’re laughing at me, because I was upset I had forgotten to take a photo. Some of my favorite people in that picture!
Right: I’m still enjoying hosting dinners for ladies to come together for fellowship without responsibility. Sometimes, they’re even meeting for the first time— there are always so many people coming and going here. I have a mosquito net set up over the table outside on my porch, and we’re able to sit outside for dinner and dessert and tea afterwards. It’s been a joy.
There were six ladies at the most recent debriefing retreat, and it was a beautiful time of sharing hearts and carrying one another’s burdens. Although we were from three different countries and serve in various roles here, as sisters in Christ we were able to walk alongside each other with love, understanding and empathy. Pray for these ladies as they move forward, that the things they processed through and learned would serve them well and that they would continue to be an encouragement to one another.
I’m hoping to start into a video series about Translation and how that works with our team here. I’ve also been adding German subtitles to the videos I’ve made in the past year that explain heart language and literacy. I have to have quite a bit of help to accomplish that!
I plan on offering another Ladies’ Debriefing Retreat at the end of April. Please pray that the Lord would clearly open doors for some of the ladies who live in tribal locations to attend. I’m also hoping to offer one at the end of July in the area where I live, but then, sometime in the fall, I’d like to offer a retreat in the Eastern area of the country. This would mean offering it at a resort, so the logistics and the cost are a bit overwhelming. Please pray for the Lord’s guidance and provision.
I’m currently working with a group of four churches in the 7th Missionary Care Discussion Group! What a joy it’s been to walk churches through what it looks like to care for missionaries well. I’m planning on sending out a printed newsletter about that process next month, so if you’re interested and don’t currently receive anything in the mail from me, send me your mailing address. I’m planning on starting another discussion group over Zoom a week after this one ends. Pray that I don’t confuse the groups!
Another exciting thing I get to do coming up is help with the elementary school’s PE class by teaching jump rope. I did this 2 years ago, and I had forgotten how long it’s been. I think I better start practicing myself!