“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 ESV) Those are encouraging words of promise that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shared with his disciples just after he delivered the Great Commission to them. Our pastors take the gospel into unreached communities to start churches and this can be a lonely ministry for many reasons. One is that there may be no other believers in the target area—so the pastor’s family alone needs to be the witness for Christ until others begin to believe. Another reason could be that they are isolated by distance and difficult travel from other cooperative ministries—mountainous villages accessible by unmaintained dirt roads, for example. Another reason may be that they are sharing the gospel in a community highly opposed to Christianity and they face persecution daily.
Van Lal Ruat in Magwe, Myanmar shares an example of the persecution his congregation faces in his recent prayer report: The members of my church were converted from Buddhism, the majority religion of our country. When the people in our community discovered their faith in Jesus they persecuted them. One example: our government tried to help poor people by providing loans to start livelihood businesses. But, the authorities said, “If you are Christian, your pastor will have to provide for whatever you need”—and other excuses like this. As such, my members could not get the loans.
We can’t leave our brothers alone! White Fields comes alongside these pastors in partnership, becoming the hands and feet of our Lord in fulfilling the promise he made that they are not alone. The Apostle Paul experienced this partnership with the Philippian church and he expressed thanksgiving for their participation with him in the gospel ministry even in his low days of prison and through the persecution that he experienced. He expressed to them:
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:14-20 ESV)
These believers shared in Paul’s troubles by sending help on multiple occasions that supplied for Paul’s needs. In this way they kept Paul from being alone.
They were partners, even though they were a long distance away from the frontline action. They were not in the direct ministry like Paul, but their partnership through financial support to Paul advanced the gospel ministry and was pleasing to God. Paul concludes this descriptive partnership by expressing that God will supply all the needs of the givers. In this way God receives praise and worship twice, once when the supplies are given to the worker and secondly when he blesses the faithful giver. He deserves all our praise and worship.
Consider for a moment how God has chosen to advance his mission. God could deliver supplies to meet the needs of church planters through any method he would like. He could miraculously have had supplies sprout directly out of the ground—he is, after all, the creator of the world. But, God chose to provide for his ministers through the faithful giving of fellow believers. He incorporates us into the process by allowing us to be faithful stewards—then he promises to supply the givers with blessings. In this way God allows us to act faithfully and present our gifts as “fragrant offerings”—worship to our Lord.
Your participation with White Fields allows us to sustain the gospel ministry of these pastors. It allows us to provide for their needs and accomplish the effective starting of new churches. It also lets us provide livelihood projects for new believers thus proving that God will supply all their needs.
Your partnership advances the gospel. Here is the testimony of a new family in Myanmar who came to faith in Jesus:
I praise God that He used a little girl named Pah Pah Soe to tell her parents of Him. (Pah Pah Soe attends our Sunday school.) Praise the Lord! Their names are Mr. Thein Tan and Mrs. Ma Nge Ma. Mr. Tan shared how they came to know God: “My daughter always prayed to God before meals and before bed. She also prayed whenever she would wake. Several times I forbade her not to believe and follow this other religion, but she always refused me. Many times she told us that there is a living God in heaven and His Son Jesus is the Savior of all men. She would tell us that our god is not living, that we should not worship it because it is just an idol. She said if we continue worshiping it, we will be thrown into the lake of fire. Her words were rooted in my heart and since the first week of February, we have tried to go to Sunday service—my wife and I—and the preaching of the pastor touched our hearts. My wife and I prayed to God and have been studying about the Christian God for several weeks. Eventually we have come to understand clearly that there is a true and living God. Both of us are very happy and have decided to join Pastor Maung Hlaing’s church. Praise the Lord!” This couple was baptized March 16, 2014.