“…I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:4, 5)
One of the reasons that cause Paul to pray with much joy is the partnership (koinonia) in the furtherance of the gospel which he had with the church in Philippi. Paul and the church in Philippi enjoyed a good working partnership “in the gospel”. The church in Philippi supported Paul in his missions endeavor through these 3 ways:
- Through serving – by sending one of their members to visit and take care of him. In Philippians 2:25, we are told that they sent Epaphroditus “to take care of his needs”.
- Through giving – in chapter 3:10ff – They gave money out of a concern and a profound sense of partnership. They were the only one who shared with Paul “in the matter of giving and receiving” right at the early stage of his ministry.
- Through praying – the importance of prayer cannot be overemphasized, in Paul’s case, his life was probably depending on their prayers (1:19). Praying is an act of faith, especially praying for someone who is in a faraway place. It is an act of obeying what God exhorted us to do and an act of believing that He will fulfill His purpose through our prayers.
Bethesda Chapel (BC) is an average size church in Singapore with limited resources, probably similar to the church in Philippi. From time to time, BC has risen up in faith and obedience when needs and opportunities are shared pertaining to specific financial needs, relief work and furtherance of the gospel.
A vivid example that came to mind was the devastating tsunami that hit the north eastern part of Japan in March 2011. At that time Stephan and Keiko Smithdorff (BC adopted missionaries) were just settling in Japan after completing their assignment in Turkey. In light of the grave humanitarian and financial needs, BC took a special collection and members generously gave. A total of S$15,000 was collected for the relief work through Operation Mobilisation (OM) Japan in May 2011.
Subsequently in June 2011, a team of 9 members from BC volunteered to help in the tsunami-hit area by providing humble manual relief work. We were by no means the only team that helped with the relief work. It was an overwhelming experience both for the team as well as for the Japanese living there. We understand that prior to the disaster the Japanese villagers who are mainly fishermen, had no or little contact with foreigners much less the gospel.
BC has since been receiving regular updates of the progress of the tsunami relief work. The prayer needs are featured regularly in our prayer meetings. We greatly rejoiced to hear about the birth of a church in that area, the first fruit of the labors of many faithful believers. The ground breaking ceremony of Watanoha Christ Church was held on 25 October 2012. In April 2013, the new church building dedication service was held. The local community who previously shunned foreigners and the gospel are now filling the church. Let us pray that Watanoha Christ Church will continue to reach out and impact lives in that tsunami stricken area.
In September 2013, Stephan, Keiko and family moved from Kanazawa in the western part of Japan to the north eastern side in obedience to the call to serve in the tsunami stricken area. It will a challenging and exciting time for them with opportunities for the gospel to be reached to the villagers. Let us continue to pray for them and others who are called to serve and rebuild the lives of the victims in Christ.
This is only one of the many examples of BC’s role in partnering with fellow believers and organizations for the furtherance of the gospel. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal 6:9).
Deacon Wayne Teo