After our morning prayer time recently, Susan said to me, “I wish our partners knew how important they are to us.” I concur completely, and that’s why I’m writing to you today.
Susan and I feel close to our partners and partner churches, not only because they help us fulfill our mission, but because they demonstrate by their actions that they care about us and believe in what we are doing. Together we’re a winning team for the Lord…and that sense of kinship creates a bond with them in our hearts.
Paul spoke tenderly about those who had been his “partners in the spreading the Good News about Christ.” They were not just donors, they were heart-comrades, united in Christ and His purposes. He prayed earnestly and consistently for them, because he had them in his heart. And he believed that God was working mightily in their lives. The word translated “partnership” here or “fellowship” in the King James version is from the Greek word “koinonia” which means a sharing in common, association, communion, joint participation, and intimacy.
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. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.(Philippians 1:3-8, New Living Translation)
Susan and I have found it to be a great joy to pray daily for our partners and to labor with you in prayer for success in your spiritual and natural lives. Through prayer, you have come to have a special place in our hearts. When you hurt, we hurt. When you succeed, we rejoice! Sometimes our partners struggle long, and we struggle with them, looking for that key in prayer that will bring a breakthrough in their lives.
There are several ways that I see partnership is manifested in our ministry:
- Laboring together. As scripture says, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9, KJV. God is “working” in and through us to build His Church and to reach the world. We have found it to be a great joy and benefit to work together with others, both in the U.S. and around the world, to see the work of God accomplished. We each have some special gift to bring. We each have a part in God’s ministry. When we work together we win! When we sit alone we lose.
- Mutual encouragement. You may not realize it, but when we receive a note, an email or a face-to-face word of encouragement from one of our friends, it really is a shot in the arm. I don’t care how spiritual we may be, we ALL need encouragement. Susan and I have made it practice to encourage people in the Lord. Whether it be through a letter, a phone call, or in our preaching, we are constantly endeavoring to build up and encourage others. Mutual encouragement is a huge part of partnership!
- Prayer for one another. Paul spoke to his partners about his consistent prayers for them, but we also see in his letters that he was constantly asking them for prayer. He was acutely aware of his need for prayer support in the vital and sometimes dangerous work that he was doing. There is something about praying for one another—whether in a marriage, in a friendship, in a local church, or a ministry—that creates a synergy, a supernatural power that is undefeatable. Our partnership is a partnership of prayer!
- Giving and receiving. Later in the book of Philippians (which is essentially a letter to a partner church), he says, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.” Philippians 4:15, KJV. It’s interesting that he did not call it just giving, but rather “giving and receiving.” The law of “sowing and reaping” IS a biblical principle. We have found it a great joy as a ministry to both give and receive. We count it a great privilege to give gifts to help others to accomplish their God-given goals. Our giving should not be done from compulsion. It should be done from the heart. And there is great power and joy in “giving and receiving.” It puts us right in the middle of God’s channel of blessing!
There are many benefits to partnership. As Paul said to his partners, “…you share with me in the special favor of God.” (Philippians 1:7 NLT) The King James version says, “…ye are all partakers of my grace.” In other words, Paul was saying that his partners had a share spiritually in all that God was doing in his life and ministry. The things that God had given Paul by grace were also being imparted to his partners. Paul was even so bold to tell his ministry partners, “But MY God shall supply all YOUR need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19, KJV. This, too, is our prayer and confidence for each of our partners, in Jesus’ name.
Thank you for your partnership!