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Who Needs Who?

Years ago, I served on the mission team at a very large church.  The church had been given an endowment designated to missions, and our responsibility was to give away all of the interest and part of the principal every year. Each year, we had to decide where to give many thousands of dollars. Word had long since gotten out about the fund, and we were constantly bombarded with requests.  In fact, the requests were so frequent that at times it was hard to remember that we were supposed to be looking for opportunities to give.  The temptation was to begin shutting people out just because so many others were also asking.

As a Christian in a wealthy nation, you may feel the same kind of strange conflict that I felt on that mission team. You are continually told how rich you are.  You are reminded how poor the rest of the world is by comparison.  And although those things are certainly true, it is easy to grow weary and begin to shut out everyone else’s needs.  There are just too many people wanting something from you. But if that is how you feel, it is time for a new perspective.

The apostle John offers just the perspective we need in 3 John, verses 5-8:

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

Missionaries and ministries do need money, but John’s point is not really about that.  The freeing truth that God teaches us through John is that we need them more than they need us.  The purpose of biblical giving is not just so the poor missionaries can be less poor.  It is “so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.” The point is for you to have a part in something important that is being accomplished.

The problem is that we have all heard way too much of the wrong kind of appeal.  The truth is you should be tired of hearing how much the poor missionaries need you. You should be weary of all the manipulative pleas for funding from ministry organizations.  What would be much better is to hear how godly missionaries and ministries give you an opportunity that you desperately need—an opportunity you can never achieve unless you join with such people.

If you give nothing to support ministries beyond your immediate circle of activity, most faithful ministries will survive somehow and continue to function.  Someone else will give something, and they will at least eke by. But what about you?  If you give nothing to any such ministry, how will you be a fellow worker with the truth?  How will you have significance that reaches beyond your own circle—and even beyond your own generation?

As a pastor, I tell my church often that we need our missionaries far more than they need us. If we are to avoid becoming a self-serving, anemic church, we must have missionaries and ministries where we can be a part of something beyond ourselves. When we find a faithful person who is serving the Lord in some way in which we cannot serve personally, we long to be a part of what he is doing.  Such people extend the ministry of our church far beyond what our reach would otherwise be.  This is exactly why I am excited about our involvement in Grace to Russia.  Through this ministry, our people have another way to be fellow workers with the truth.  So when I send you updates and mention the financial needs of this ministry, please don’t conclude that we are just one more organization wanting something from you.  As Paul said when the Philippians impoverished themselves to share in his need, “I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:17).

Dave Stephenson

President

How Important are Books?

When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”

2 Timothy 4:13

The apostle Paul was very near the end of his life when he wrote 2 Timothy. He knew that he would soon be in heaven, and he was putting things in order for his own departure from this earth. Yet he asks Timothy to bring his books when he comes. Charles Spurgeon offered this perspective on how Paul valued books:

“He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!”

 Paul—his Cloak and His Books, A Sermon (No. 542), Delivered November 29th, 1863, by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Books instruct by preserving information so the reader can go over it again and again. Books enable the reader to learn at his own pace. Books teach where no human teacher is present. Books bring truth even in an environment hostile to that truth. Books can be shared and passed on to others so that the preserved teaching continues to have influence.

Progress

Our ministry partners in Minsk, Belarus have begun translation on The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, by D.A. Carson. This short book should be finished in November. We hope to begin translation of the next project as soon as this one is finished. We still need considerable support to complete the second book (Love in Hard Places, by Carson) and would appreciate your prayers in this regard.

A Deadline

In October 2016, Don Carson will be leading three major conferences for Russian speaking people, one in Ukraine and two in Russia. We have been invited to offer our books at these conferences and will include our two current Carson works plus two additional Carson titles if funds come available. These conferences present tremendous opportunities to provide helpful resources to Ukrainian and Russian Christians. Translating and publishing four new titles in time for these conferences will require approximately $20,000 over the next ten months. Please pray for God’s provision, and consider supporting this effort, either by giving a one-time gift, or by committing to monthly support. Even gifts of $25, $50, or $100 per month are very helpful as many donors pull together to meet these needs.

How You Can Help

Pray for the ministry of Grace to Russia.

Share the financial load of providing books to Russian-speaking people.

Inform other missions-minded believers about these opportunities.

Host an event.

To Host an Event

If you’d like to host an event in your church or home for presenting the Grace to Russia ministry, please contact Dave Stephenson to discuss details. You can email davestephenson@gracetorussia.com.

You can support Grace to Russia by sending your contribution to:

Grace to Russia

P.O. Box 5256

Canton, GA 30114
Or by using PayPal at gracetorussia.com
Grace to Russia is a ministry of Grace Bible Church

http://gracebc.info

Dave Stephenson, Pastor

770-355-8724