Strange. No one has yet asked me what I learned on our recent pastoral visit to a few of our Global Partners. I’ve volunteered a bit of what I learned to some, but here’s my chance to answer the un-asked question.
I learned, first, that our Global Partners are, without exception, the highest quality people we could hope for. Solid, valuable, and sacrificial are words even their colleagues use to describe them. They are completely devoted, sold out to blessing the world in the name of Jesus. Our church is honored to partner with servants such as these.
Second, I learned that Greater Portland Bible Church is very unique in the way we connect with and care for our Global Partners. They told us that. But so did the missionaries with whom they serve who were sent by other churches or organizations. Those colleagues told us they have watched how we stay in frequent contact with our GPs and how we are quick to respond to the variety of needs that they have. And the fact that two pastors would be sent by this church half way around the world just to encourage and support and shepherd our Global Partners was over the top. That’s the excellent heritage of our church and the previous Global Partner Directors and teams. I and our present team are privileged to step into that heritage and to keep it going.
A third thing, that I either read or heard in our travels, is that the greatest hindrance to the growth of the kingdom of Jesus is affluence. In South Africa for example, the prejudice, oppression, and injustice of apartheid has left a legacy of poverty for a large percentage of the population. And yet, the ministry of our Global Partners there is seeing people come to faith in Jesus and lives changed in ways that would be considered extraordinary in our affluent Portland churches. Our culture’s values of comfort, convenience, of consumerism and materialism are so ingrained in us that we don’t see them, even though they play a huge role in our choices and our actions.
One more thing I brought home with me, having seen the single-minded devotion of our Global Partners, is the nagging suspicion that we, at GPBC, as good and as healthy a church as we are, still spend a lot of energy and effort on things that are good but not necessary to the growth of the kingdom of Jesus. Are we spending energy on feeding the already spiritually well-fed that could be spent on getting the Bread of heaven to those who are starving?
Will you join me in praying that as we move into the next chapter of our church’s history, we will be able to discern that which is good from that which is necessary and respond appropriately?
See you Sunday,