Guest Blog by Michael Prest from UFM.
I wonder what springs to mind when we think of sending and supporting mission workers?
Perhaps there’s that line in your church budget for mission elsewhere. Or there are the prayers in the midweek meeting and Sunday service.
If we’re doing some giving and we’re doing some praying, is that the mission support thing kind of covered? Well, a ministry of sending certainly includes those things, but the letter of 3 John shows us that it is so much more wonderful and weighty than that!
Speaking about the travelling evangelists that had arrived in Gaius’ church, John writes: “It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans.” (v7)
These workers had gone as representatives, as ambassadors, as messengers of Jesus Christ himself. They’d gone out for the sake of the Name; that is, the name above every name, before which one day every knee will bow. There are so many good causes to support in our world, that are worthy of our investment. Yet what a privilege to be partners in this life-changing, essential, eternal work of seeing the gospel go to the nations!
Then there’s the privilege that we’re “working together for the truth” (v8). Incredible! As we go on supporting mission partners around the world, we’re not just observers or funders or supporters. No, we’re partners. We’re working together. Friends, be encouraged by that and keep going in that!
And there’s another joy here in this – thinking especially of those of us serving at home, who perhaps, in our heart of hearts, would love to be the ones who’d been sent. And yet, for all sorts of reasons, we’re still here. We’re not missing out on God’s global purposes; we’re not stuck in the second division of God’s mission plans. No, the senders and the go-ers can work together for the truth.
Yet of course, with privilege comes responsibility. Speaking about those that have gone out for the sake of the Name, John writes that “We ought to show hospitality to such people.” (v3) The privilege of being a sending church. Notice the sense of obligation here. John doesn’t say, “well look, here are these mission workers, they’re sharing Christ, you might want to think about chipping something in.” No, John says that they command the support of their brothers and sisters. Gaius and his fellow church members should help; they must help. Why? Because they had gone out “receiving no help from the pagans” (v7). If God’s people don’t support gospel ministry, no-one else will!
And this sense of responsibility, here in 3 John, also comes as we grasp the significance of how we’re to send. “Please send them on their way in a manner that honours God,” John writes (v6), or as some versions put it, “in a manner worthy of God.”
Wow. What a responsibility! What a high calling. Do we see where the bar is set for this precious ministry of sending? It is to be done in a manner that honours God; that is worthy of God. A manner worthy of the God who has given everything that we might be saved. This is the kind of attitude that should characterise our sending of Christian workers: selfless, sacrificial, lavish, unconditional.
David Jackman put it like this: “There could not be a higher standard of generosity to emulate. But then there could not be a higher or more worthy service.”* It’s our privilege at UFM to help churches like yours to participate in this wonderful ministry of sending. May God bless and use you as you serve in this way!
*David Jackman, The Message of John’s Letters p194
Watch a clip from our interview with Michael, where he covers this topic further. You can watch the full interview or listen as a podcast.
The importance of the role of the sending church is a topic we explore with our interactive resource maps, examining the relationship between the field worker and the sending church. Check them out for each stage; pre-field, on-field and post-field.
Michael Prest is the director of UFM. He began his working life in pharmacy management with Boots and then, after time at Oak Hill College, London, he served as one of the ministers at Beeston Free Church, Nottingham.
Michael is married to Rachel and they are very grateful for their four children, Bethia, Jemima, Benjamin and Nathanael. They joined UFM in 2012 and served as missionaries in South East Asia where the focus of their work was on training and equipping local believers to reach out to those from the majority religion. Michael serves as an elder at Emmanuel Marlborough and is a member of the FIEC Pastors’ Network.
This guest blog was originally published in UFM’s 4 Corners Magazine, Winter 2021 and is reproduced here with permission. Read the magazine here.