2 Sep 2021
I’d like to say that God has spoken to me in grand visions and an audible voice. But I’m no Paul. In Acts 18, violent religious persecution was a daily possibility. So, God graciously spoke to Paul and said words to the effect, “Though it looks bleak right now, I actually have many people in this city. Don’t be afraid. Keep going” (v 9-10).
I’m no Paul, but our gracious Heavenly Father whispered, reminded, and encouraged me of the very same comforting things during the 14 years we lived in Asia serving with Pioneers.
How did God ‘speak’ to me of these truths? Of course, through His promises in the Scriptures. But also, through His many people scattered around the city and, in fact, around the whole world. In Paul’s day, getting a message to a friend took months. Today, it takes just fractions of a second.
As my family faced struggles, discouragement and at times a lack of fruit, God’s many people would encourage us with the words and reminders we desperately needed to hear.
I’ve complied a list of the ways that God, though his many people, has most encouraged and blessed us over the years.
- – Sending notes of encouragement. There have been times when my own faith has waivered. I have been tested. At those times, the faith of others kept me going. I kept believing because I trusted them. They were wise and clear minded when I was shrouded and confused in the darkness of suffering. Send a verse. Send a sermon. Send a nugget of wisdom to someone who needs it.
- – Praying for us regularly. When someone says, “my kids and I pray for you at the dinner table each night”, it doesn’t get much better. Pray, and tell your people you are praying for them.
- – Tracking with our stories and letting us know that you are invested in our lives and the people we love so dearly.
- – Sharing stories of gospel fruit in your own lives and churches. Also, sharing honestly about your struggles and challenges.
- – Visiting us. We have a special bond with those who were brave enough to visit our homes and community in far away places. They saw it. They get it. They blessed us. They were willing to fit in with kids and the crazy schedules- or lack thereof J. One family visited three times over six years. Their kids have become our kids’ close friends now we are back in Australia.
- – Short term teams. Ready to roll up their sleeves and help according to the needs on the ground and not pre-imagined ideas that don’t really help.
- – Through mission agency support. Pioneers staff have given of themselves in so many ways. They are dear to us. They are the real deal.
- – Care packages. The best parcels were sent after correspondence regarding our particular needs at the time. Oh, what excitement there was!
- – When your missionaries come to share at your church, and you look after them. I still remember a brother approach me with a huge coffee after preaching at the morning service.
- – Giving generously. One profound memory was when a wealthy family gave us lots of money to get us across the line one year. Then suddenly, the poorest woman we knew on a disability pension received her inheritance. She gave us her tithe. It was exactly the same amount of money. Another lady has given us $6 per month for 15 years. All three stories speak of profound generosity.
- – Generous hospitality. We have been hosted and fed by many families around Australia. One family has let us stay in their guest room for family holidays for many years.
God told Paul in a vision that he has “many people” to encourage him to keep going in his ministry. We thank God for the many people He used to provide for us and to strengthen us in our lives and ministry. I’m no Paul. I think that’s why God has given me audible human voices to encourage me. And very human arms to lift me up and embrace me when I’ve needed it.
God has provided through his many people. Hallelujah!
- – Brendan, a Pioneers worker serving in SE Asia