Missions like God intended.
Nothing warms my heart on the subject of missions than the following picture. Here we see Paul and Silas stopping by at the home of Timothy and taking him under their wings and leading him out into a life-long apostolic calling.
May I say it again; nothing warms my heart more than this picture.
I see no big organization. I see no “amped-up” altar calls with grand appeals for money! I don’t see young Timothy being sent out “through the agency of man”. (Gal 1:1) I see only Paul and Silas, en-route to revisit the churches started on Paul’s first apostolic trip, picking up another team member.
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him… (Acts 16:1-3)
Forever after Paul called Timothy “my dear son”. (2 Tim 1:2) Paul apparently led Timothy to Jesus at a young age and called him “my true child in the faith” (1 Tim 1:2). Friends, if you can find an apostolic father like this, join him! You will have recreated missions like God intended.
What were Timothy’s credentials?
First and foremost, I believe, it is that Paul wanted him (Acts 16).
Second, I believe, it is that he “was well spoken of by the brethren” from his immediate home area! He had a spark of faith that both Paul and his neighbors recognized.
Thirdly, it seems that Timothy had a deep well of faith from home. This is highlighted when one realizes that Paul took Timothy away from home at the tender age of about 15 years old!
”For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (2 Tim 1:5)
Fourthly, I believe, what set Timothy apart from the dozens of other capable young men in Asia Minor is that he was servant-hearted. Paul said as much:
”For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.” (Phil 2:20-22)
Missions like God intended.
I have shown this picture to other missionary friends over the years and they say they don’t “get it”! What am I so excited about?!?!
Well… it turns the whole missionary paradigm that we grew up with on its head!
> In missions, like God intended, you see small, mobile bands of brothers who stayed people’s homes. They stayed JUST long enough for the infant church to get grounded. Paul seemed to have an unease of “saying too long on one place”.
”So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Phil 2:12
> In missions, like God intended, either “persecution” (Acts 14) or a “finished job” (Acts 19.21) moved the band of apostles and prophets on to a new work or region. Other times they knew it was time to report back to “Headquarters”.
> In missions, like God intended, upon return visits the churches it was the practice to take future apostles-in-training out of the home church and onto the field. (Acts 20:1-4) Some cities did not wait for a return visit but sent their people out anyway to Paul.
> In missions, like God intended, in-between visits happened frequently by the apostolic team; by team members like, Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Epaphroditus. Paul wrote letters as well to “remind you of my ways in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4.17)
I close with a lengthy quote from my favorite author on missionary methods and principles, Roland Allen.
When we turn from the restless entreaties and exhortations which fill the pages of our modern missionary magazines to the pages of the New Testament, we are astonished at the change in the atmosphere. St. Paul does not repeatedly exhort his Churches to subscribe money for the propagation of the Faith, he is far more concerned to explain to them what the Faith is, and how they ought to practice it and to keep it. The same is true of St. Peter and St. John, and of all the apostolic writers. They do not seem to feel any necessity to repeat the great Commission, and to urge that it is the duty of their converts to make disciples of all the nations. What we read in the New Testament is no anxious appeal to Christians to spread the Gospel, but a note here and there which suggests how the Gospel was being spread abroad…
I know not how it may appear to others, but to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far beyond that of our modern highly organized missions. (The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church And the Causes Which Hinder It By Roland Allen1927)