The major moves and days of packing are behind us – for now – and my chief job is to work on the financial support that we still need. Did you know that support-raising involves study? It does, and for many reasons.
I’m reading a book called Funding the Family Business: a Handbook for Raising Personal Support, by Myles Wilson. The section I’m in right now connects the missionary’s supporters of today to those in Paul’s time – especially the ones he wrote to in his letter to the church in Philippi. Paul had a lot of praise for them. They had given above and beyond his expectations and his needs, and Paul recognized in his letter that they were giving out of a deep spiritual need to do so. Wilson writes, “… supporting someone isn’t about money. It is about the supporter playing their part in God’s eternal plan for his Kingdom, and this participation brings credit with it in God’s books.” (p. 53)
At the phrase “credit in God’s books”, I pondered the possibility that any one of our own supporters has probably given more to our ministry than the whole church of Philippi ever gave to Paul. I play a small part in God’s Kingdom, but our supporters’ giving is not measured according to what I do – after all, Paul was in prison and not out preaching when he heaped so much praise on that church. Honestly, I am looking forward to The Day when I get to witness all of our supporters in this world receiving their reward for having given.
Wilson’s drawing that connection between past and present also struck me as it reminded me of a broader link made by Eugene Peterson in his book, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, which a supporting church had given us. In it, Peterson paints a picture of a river that represents the passage of time and Scripture among God’s people – one with its source in the very Beginning and which courses through the days of Abraham, Moses, the kings, the exiles, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the disciples, Paul, and so on until it reaches the crowd of peoples in front of the Throne. And that includes those of us who now believe. Jesus is on that river – literally – and he has walked the length and width of it.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, feel the strength and certainty of that river’s swift current and know that you will certainly arrive at its destination. When you give to God’s Kingdom, know that you are deepening your connection to that river and to everyone else who has traveled it – including the Philippian church. Paul wrote, “… the gifts you sent … are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:18-19, NIV) Amen, Paul … may it be so!