We've been having a fantastic missions conference so far this week, and we've just been truly blessed by the missionaries that have been here, whether that's on the videos or in person, and heard some great preaching so far this week. And I have another missionary that we want to have come forward at this time to present their ministry.
Becca Skelton and their family, Harrison, Suzanne, and Adele are their three children, and they've been missionaries to mainland China for a while, and then they are now missionaries to the country of Hong Kong, and they've been there for five years. So make brother Grant feel welcome as he comes. Well, first of all, I just want to take an opportunity to say thank you to this church.
You folks have treated us royally since we have been here. You have been such a blessing and encouragement. The hotel, the food, the snacks, the gifts, so much you have done to encourage us, and we will leave this place very, very encouraged.
So thank you so much. I've really enjoyed getting to know especially brother Braden and just, you know, sadly, a lot of churches, they talk about evangelism and missions, and when it comes to evangelism, they just think sending missionaries to the other side of the world is all we're supposed to do. And they forget that they have a Jerusalem right here where they're supposed to be sharing the gospel. And one of the things I've really been encouraged by being here in Lighthouse is seeing that the same thing we do over in Hong Kong, you do right here. Sharing the gospel, seeing people saved, lives changed, and that's the kind of churches we want behind us and supporting us. So we thank you so much for all that you've done, the good fellowship we've enjoyed. Really, I'd like to start off tonight and show you our missionary video, and that will give you a quick four-minute picture of what life has been like for our family for the last four years, and then I can get up and share a little more with you after the video.
So we'll start with that, please. Hong Kong. Hong Kong, a near perfect fusion of East and West, modern and traditional, fast and slow.
It's a global financial capital and a cultural powerhouse, and for the last five years, this city has been our home. Hi, we're the skeletons, Grant, Rebecca, Harrison, Suzanne, and Adele. Even after seven years of serving in this part of the world, it still amazes me that the Lord would lead a family from a small town in South Carolina to be church planting missionaries in this Asian mega city. Doing ministry as a family is a huge blessing.
We are so glad we get to do missions together. So many of the people we meet and have opportunities to share the gospel with are direct contacts we've made through our kids. Even though Hong Kong is an amazing city, it is a place of intense spiritual darkness.
The vast majority of people worship the gods of false religion, education, and money. Like so many other missionaries around the world, over the last four years we have faced many challenges. In 2019, Hong Kong experienced six months of intense political protests.
For the last three years, Hong Kong has endured some of the world's most stringent COVID restrictions. In spite of the challenges, people continue to be saved, discipled, and baptized. Our ministry focus for the last four years has been on the revitalization of Gateway Bible Baptist Church. Gateway was planted by missionaries almost 30 years ago. Because of a severe shortage of local pastors and foreign missionaries, they had been without a pastor for over three years.
They were down to just 35 members and were struggling to survive. The goal is to develop Gateway into an evangelism training and church planting base for this region of the world. We now have a growing children's ministry. This past year we started a youth ministry. Rebecca teaches our Filipino Ladies Sunday School class. Recently, the Lord has brought us several English speaking families from different countries around the world, allowing us to start an international ministry.
Our newest outreach opportunity is through hosting free English classes on a university campus. God has called our family to be church planting missionaries in Hong Kong, but we can't do this alone. We prayerfully consider partnering with our family as we take the gospel of Jesus Christ to Asia. We pray in Jesus' name. We pray in Jesus' name. Well, yes, we definitely are here to praise the Lord for what he's done in the last four years. I've heard it once said that, you know, if anything good has happened in Hong Kong, God did it.
If anything bad happened in Hong Kong, we did it. We make lots of mistakes, a lot of errors, but God is still good and gracious, and he blesses his gospel. The gospel is powerful. It changes lives. Just real quick to tell you how we got to Hong Kong from South Carolina.
We're from South Carolina. I grew up in a wonderful Bible preaching church. Christian mom and dad got saved at a young age, but never really came to a point of full surrender in my life, never really kind of doing the mental math.
Like, if everything that God has done for me in light of the cross, my salvation, it really should only make sense. Romans 12, one and two, right, that you present your body a living sacrifice. Well, I was serving in our local church there. We worked in our college and career Sunday school department, and one Sunday I was going to have to teach on that passage, Romans 12, one and two, and challenge those college kids. Hey, present your life to God.
Blank check every part wholeheartedly to him, and if you'll do that, he'll show you his good, perfect, and acceptable will. But I knew deep down in my heart I couldn't honestly preach that message to them because I had not done that. God had been calling me to the ministry and to missions, but I just kept coming up with excuses.
We've talked about this. We visited China one time thinking maybe God wanted us to be missionaries, but we were the parents of young children, and I remember thinking, man, we can't go to China. Our kids will die over there.
They'll get some germ and get sick, and I'm an only child, and I now have to take care of my parents. And then the big thing was money. You know, to become a missionary, you quit your job. You head out on the road to raise your support and just excuse after excuse that I gave to the Lord. Finally that morning, I remember reading Romans 12, one and two, and just kind of doing business with the Lord and say, Lord, if this is true, if you will show me your good, perfect, and acceptable will, then I'll do that.
I'll present my body a living sacrifice to you, and I'm going to stop letting the world tell me what's important. I'm going to let your word direct my steps, and God has done just that. We quit. I quit my job, and the Lord has just paved the path for us. And as you can see now, we've been on the field serving as missionaries for seven years. Now why China?
How did we get to China? Well, we knew some missionaries that were ministering in China, and when they would come back to visit our church, they would always tell us, give us an update of their ministry, and specifically they shared with us an evangelism method. It's called Creation to Christ. It's a 10-week Bible study, and it follows Jesus' example in the book of Luke, Luke 24. Jesus, he meets these two people on the road to Emmaus, and he disguises himself. They don't know it's Christ, but it says that Christ went back to the law and the prophets to explain why he had to come, and really going back to Genesis. And you know, in China, many people are under the influence of communism and atheism. They've been taught even in primary school that there is no God. And so when you go to share the gospel with somebody, you can't always start with the cross. You can't start with sin.
You've got to go even beyond that. Is there a God? And answer some of those questions. Where do we come from? Why are we here?
But ultimately, where do we go when we die? And so doing this evangelistic study, Creation to Christ, I was really interested in that. During all this time of wrestling with the call and surrender, God brought the mission field to us in South Carolina.
A Russian man, he was a brilliant guy, a PhD chemist, came to America to work for a pharmaceutical company. We got to be friends with him, invited him to our church, wanted to share the gospel with him. Coming to church in the South and South Carolina, you know, all the trappings, the music, the dress, he just didn't get it.
He was from an atheist background in Russia. We began to realize if we're going to reach Dennis with the gospel, it's going to take a little bit more of a commitment. So Rebecca said, you've got to call our friends in China. You've got to get this Creation to Christ study. And we got to do that with Dennis. And for 10 weeks, every Saturday, he would come to our house and sit at our kitchen table. And we would do just that.
We'd start in Genesis and work our way through. Eventually, on the tenth week, this Russian guy is sitting at my table, crying, saying, I need the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And he got saved. And that day, another little lightbulb moment, and I told God, I want to do this the rest of my life.
This is the greatest thing I've ever done, marrying my wife, having children. Those were wonderful things. But also, right up there with all that, was doing the Sea to Sea study. And we knew that's really an effective way to share the gospel in China. And so that's really kind of how the Lord began to open our eyes to China, to Hong Kong, Asia, that part of the world. And we use that now. We use that study.
And it's a very effective tool in sharing the gospel. So we were in China for two years doing an internship. But then at the end of that time, we began to pray for God would have us to land permanently in that part of the world. And a Hong Kong man had come to visit our city in mainland China and was telling us about the needs of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a well-known city.
People see it on the news. And it's got a famous, beautiful skyline there over Victoria Harbor, all the high-rise buildings. But Hong Kong is known as the world's most expensive city, the highest cost of living in the entire world. And because of that, there is a shortage of missionaries. Missionaries, if you think of raising your support to get to that field, you're thinking three, four, five years of raising support. So the missionary community is very small there. Also, because of the high cost of living, local Chinese men are very leery to go into the ministry.
They're thinking, there's no way to make enough money just to pay the bills. And so you have this massive city in China, but with a very, very small gospel influence. And so this man came and introduced Hong Kong to us, and we began to pray and visit. And we found out about this church, Gateway. Gateway Bible Baptist Church had been planted by missionaries.
But again, just because of that problem, it was never fully independent, an indigenous church. But this is a blessing. They have a building.
They have a $3 million flat, 3,000 square foot flat, 11th floor of a high-rise building in Hong Kong. And here we are. We're praying, where do we go? We need a place to meet. We need people to start a church.
And so God connected us to this little church. And so that's where we've been the last four years. I will say the last four years in Hong Kong, like our video says, like most of the world, has been very challenging. We got there, had six months of wonderful life. Hong Kong's a beautiful place. It's on the Pacific Ocean.
You see ocean views everywhere, nice big mountains. And we were enjoying the food, the culture, getting to meet people there in the city. But then after those first six months, Hong Kong is a part of China. And it's different from China. It has a separate legal system because it was formerly a British colony.
But the Chinese government are taking away the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong pretty rapidly. And so after getting there, the city started having these riots and protests. And it eventually took over the entire city. One night we laid in our bed with our windows open and watched the protesters and the police have a battle right from our apartment. It was pretty intense, very challenging. Parts of the city, entire parts of the city were shut down.
The protesters would attack the subway systems, the buses, the tunnels. And so it was a very concerning time. We were very afraid. We even called our mission board office and asked if they think we should come home. The airport was shut down. There were talks of the Chinese military coming in.
A challenge. Then we had six months of that. Finally peace came.
The government said, if you say anything bad about us, we're going to put you in jail for five years. And it immediately stopped the protest. But we had about a month of, again, nice quiet living, getting to focus on our ministry. And then somebody visited us from Wuhan, China. And they brought us a late Christmas present. They brought us coronavirus. And at that time we were panicking. We were contacting our churches in America saying we need face masks. We need face masks. And many people thought this epidemic was just going to be in China. But it obviously eventually spread to the whole world. And our churches eventually called us and said we need face masks.
We need face masks. But we've been through three years. Five times our city has closed our church doors. And so for those three years, those next three years, almost half of the year we were closed. Having to go online and do church. But every time our church would reopen, our attendance would grow. And every time our church had to close, guess what we got to do? We got to do more of those creation to Christ 10-week studies in our home.
And we saw people saved. Well, another challenge of living in Hong Kong, we have to move a lot. We've moved four out of five years. Again, with that expensive housing market, people buy and sell their apartments like some people do stock. It's an investment. And so that's not always been the most convenient.
Another challenge that we've had to face in the last four years. But I was telling Pastor Braden this. God gave me a verse that really has given me so much purpose through all those challenges. It's in Philippians 1. And Paul says, I want you to know, brethren, that my chains, because Paul's talking about being in prison.
He said, I want you to know, brethren, my chains have resulted in the furtherance of the gospel. And you might be going through a difficulty right now. You might be in one of those seasons of challenge or might be bad health.
You might have lost a job. Something is uncertain in your life. But if you're God's child, he wants to use that for the furtherance of the gospel.
He wants your life to be a light to somebody else. And that's what we are learning. Those challenges we've seen in Hong Kong, God has blessed everyone. Every time we've seen people saved. I've got a couple more slides. I really don't have time.
Can you all pull up those slides real quick? This is one of those success stories. This is Alan. He's a busy guy, hotel manager. He manages the YMCA Hotel in Hong Kong. This is not a youth hostel. This is not a youth camp.
This is a four-star hotel with harbor views in Hong Kong. Alan, we got to know him for three years, trying to get him to do that Creation to Christ study. But it took COVID for him to slow down enough to say, OK, Grant, I will finally do that.
Alan came to Christ at our kitchen table. There's another one. This is Candy. Candy had to go through a trial in her life.
Again, COVID has kind of rocked everybody to their core, especially in Hong Kong. But Candy was another one of those. Because of that, she was willing to come to our house, sit at our kitchen table, do our 10-week study.
Candy accepted Christ. There's another one. Oh, this was awesome. This guy, are we on livestream?
Oh, we are. OK, so I won't say any names. This guy, the guy in the middle, works in Beijing. He is a lawyer. He is a founding partner of the first-ever corporate law firm in China. A founding lawyer. He's a big guy, but he's a believer. He attends our church. But during COVID, he needed to go back to his home city in mainland and sell some property. And it was supposed to only take two weeks. When he gets there, though, this guy on his left in the green jacket is another one of the founding partners.
He's not saved. And Jerry wanted, oh, I'm not supposed to say names. Our friend wanted to do the Creation to Christ study with him. But he said he knew he only had two weeks. Well, he started the study.
The lessons got a kickoff. But the sell of his house kept getting delayed week after week. Well, you can probably guess how long it took for the sell of his house to go through.
Ten weeks, that's right. Because remember, everything is for the furtherance of the gospel. If you're a child of God, I don't care what's happening in your life.
God wants to use it so you can be a light to someone with the gospel. Jerry had to be there ten weeks. On the tenth week, Mr. Fu accepted the Lord as his savior.
I have one more that it doesn't end. This young lady, Christina, she's a Chinese young lady. She was wanting to get married. She had her wedding date on a calendar. And she was supposed to get married in South Africa.
But because of COVID, the South African Embassy in China was closed. They would not process her visa. So she had to keep delaying her wedding. That's a big deal.
Delay your wedding? Just the last week before she was able to finally go back to South Africa, a friend of hers, who she's known for a long time, and they've never had this conversation, but a friend of hers finally says, Aren't you a Christian? I want to know some more about Christianity. And she was able to connect the other guy at the end of the table, and that's Marcus. Marcus got to do that ten-week Bible study.
Marcus accepted Christ as his savior. So God is at work in Hong Kong. We are so thrilled that he has called us and we get to be there on the front lines doing the ministry there. I will ask you, pray for us. Obviously, number one, pray for souls.
That's the whole reason there, to see people saved. But we are now in a position where our church has grown, and we need some help. We have four very distinct ministries that are very different. We have a Cantonese-speaking ministry that are the people from Hong Kong. We have a Mandarin-speaking ministry, people who are moving in from the mainland. We also have a Filipino ministry.
There are 350,000 Filipino ladies who work as housekeepers. And then we have an international English-speaking ministry among the English-speaking business community. And that's a lot for one family.
And we have lots of opportunities, but a lot of them we have to say no to because we are just one family. So please join us in praying that God would call more laborers to the field of Hong Kong. It's a great, great need, but a place that we are so excited to go and partner with you to take the gospel to this great city.
Pastor Braden? What's exciting is we, as we partner with missionaries that are reaching people in foreign lands, those souls get credited to our account as well. And it's the furtherance of the gospel. And you may not be the one that's going to Hong Kong, but you can help those that are there, and we can stay on this side of the rope and hold it for them as they go and continue to pray for them, continue to give, and then just continue to be that encouragement that we've heard this week as well. And that leads me to Pastor Lewis, and he's done a fantastic job this week presenting an effective missions program and what that looks like. And if you've missed any of those messages, I encourage you to go back and listen to them and make him feel welcome as he comes to present the Word of God tonight. Well, this is our last night, and we do want to say thank you for how well that we've been treated here. You've been kind and gracious, and to my amazement, a large percentage of you have stayed awake during the sermons, and so I really greatly appreciate that.
But like Grant said, you've fed us well, and you've encouraged us, and you've welcomed us, and we really do appreciate that. I'd like you to open your Bibles to the famous verse on mission, Matthew chapter 28, Matthew chapter 28. Your theme has been to pray, give, and go, and giving we talked about on Sunday, and Monday we talked about praying, and Tuesday we talked about going.
And now tonight we're going to talk about the fact that it takes all of us to reach the world, all of us to reach the world. Matthew chapter 28, verses 19 through 20. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen. Let's pray. Father, thank you that you've been so clear and so plain, and that you do care about every person on this planet, and you are reaching those people through other Christians. And I just pray that we will make sure that we are part of what you're doing around the world.
In Jesus' name, amen. I one time had a pastor friend who was quoting Matthew 28, 19 through 20. But instead of saying, go ye therefore, he said, go there ye for. And I thought, you know, some people read it that way, that there's just a certain group that God is going to use to reach the world. And it's usually the pastor and the staff.
That's who the four are, the pastor and the staff. But it doesn't say to go there ye for. It says, go ye therefore. There's no question that God loves the world and will do everything he can to reach the world, and that God wants our main goal in life to preach the gospel to every person on the planet.
There's no question about that. And God calls some people to be missionaries. And missionaries are the ones that leave their home.
They don't keep witnessing to their neighbor or the person they work with. They leave all of that and go to a foreign country, and we call them missionaries. But what we may not realize is that when God calls the missionaries, he calls the rest of us to help that missionary.
And I hope that you'll see tonight what that really looks like and what that means. When God called Paul to be a missionary, we think of Paul. And I mean, when you look at Paul, what did he do? Look at all that he wrote in the Bible. I mean, most of the New Testament is him.
A lot of the book of Acts, and then what he wrote is about him. And we quote Paul, and we say Paul was in prison. And so we really just talk about Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul. And that's good. He was a great guy.
I'm not minimizing that at all. But I want you to see that it wasn't just Paul. God did call Paul. But in Acts chapter 13 and verse 2, it says, and as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereto I have called them. See, when God called Paul, there was two people that went. There was Paul, and there was Barnabas. Now, Barnabas traveled with him, and he was a huge part of the ministry. But God used many people to be like Barnabas and to travel with Paul in his ministry. There were at least 15 people that I could find. When I was putting this message together, I was trying to find all the people that went with Paul as he traveled.
Now, you may know some of these names of the people that were part of this group, and you may not know others. A lot of us know Barnabas. We know Silas.
We know Timothy. We know John Mark, who went and then fell away and then came back. But there's a lot of people we've never heard of. One of the guys that traveled with Paul that you probably don't even know is Secundus, a guy named Secundus.
Secundus, he was listed in a group of seven people who traveled with Paul in Asia, and he's mentioned in Acts chapter 20 and verse 4. So there are people that we know, and there's people that we don't know. But he had a group of people that traveled with him say it wasn't just by himself. Then there were people who are listed as co-workers. They were fellow prisoners.
They were supporters who ministered to Paul. And I found at least 19 people. Now, there may be more. These are just people as I was studying, looking at it.
But there was 19. And again, some of you will recognize, because they were more prominent than the other. Paphroditus, who we'll talk about tonight, is one of whom you may recognize. Lydia is one of those.
Anisophorus was one of those. But you probably don't know about Urbain. Urbain is named as a helper in Christ in Romans chapter 16 and verse 9. So you see, it wasn't just Paul by himself.
He had people that traveled with him, and he had co-workers. But then in addition to that, there were the churches who financially supported Paul. And we read you this verse the other day, 2 Corinthians 11 8, I robbed other churches, taking wages of them to do you service. So there were churches that came alongside Paul to support Paul. We know that Philippi was one of those churches. And in Philippians 4, verse 15, it says, naive Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. Even in Thessalonica, you sent once and again to my ministry.
And we don't know all these churches, but we add this next group of people. So we have Paul. He was supported by people that traveled with him. He was supported by co-laborers, people he spent time in prison with. And then he also had churches that supported him.
But that wasn't all. Added to that are the people who prayed for Paul. And as we talked about the other night, Paul mentioned five times that he asked people to pray for him. One of those was 1 Thessalonians 5, 25. Brethren, pray for us. So now we add another group of people that were helping the apostle Paul.
And what I want you to see by this is just this simple little thing. We talk about Paul. We talk about the books that Paul wrote. We talk about what Paul did. But it wasn't Paul all by himself doing all these things.
Now, these silhouettes, they're not accurate. We don't know exactly how many churches supported Paul. I can guarantee you there are more people praying for Paul than you see up there because of the so many times he said, pray for me, pray for me, pray for me. So there were lots of people supporting Paul in what he was doing. One missionary required a lot of help from a lot of people to do the work God called him to do.
We know that in the New Testament records at least 15 churches Paul started or visited or encouraged with letters that he wrote to them. He was involved in doing a lot of things. He got a lot done. But what I want you to see tonight was he had a lot of people behind him that helped him get the job done. Our missionaries need the same group of people to help them. Now, Paul was phenomenal. But part of the reason Paul was phenomenal was all those people. And if we want our missionaries to be phenomenal like Paul was, our missionaries need all of these people behind him too. One of these people that we're going to focus on tonight was Epaphroditus. We could all be a blessing to our missionaries by willing to help them in the same five ways that Epaphroditus helped Paul.
This is just one of the guys that helped Paul, but he helped him in five ways. And we see this in Philippians chapter 2, verse 25 through 30. Yet I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and that he minister to my wants. For I longed after you all and was full of heaviness, because ye had heard that he had been sick.
For indeed he was sick, nighing to death. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I send him therefore the more carefully that when you see him again you may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such in reputation, because for the work of Christ he was nighing to death, not regarding his life to supply your lack of service towards me.
Paul told us in these verses of five ways that Epaphroditus helped him. And as we go through this tonight, I want you to think of ways that you can be a help to the missionaries that God brings in your life. First here is be willing to be a brother. Paul said, he was my brother. Now it's been said many times by Braden, in this mission conference especially, that when missionaries are part of this church, they're our family.
They're our family. And that's kind of what Paul is saying here. He was my brother. And he's especially talking about he was my brother in Christ. He was saved.
He was a believer. But brother also speaks of a bond that Paul had with Epaphroditus. When you say somebody is my brother, there is a bond that's there.
It's not you just don't say it to everybody. You say it about special people. And it didn't just say he is a brother. He said, he's my brother.
He's my brother. There was an affection, a camaraderie, and a friendship shared with each other. And that's one of the ways that you can help a missionary is you can be a brother. Remember, they become brothers because of bonds that are built. And bonds are developed with missionaries by reading their letters, by praying for them, by talking with them when they visit your church. And what a great opportunity you've had to be able to do that.
And you'll have again tonight. And I really want to encourage you again tonight, when the service is over, go by and talk to the missionary about their ministry and how you can pray for them. But when they're here, build that bond with them. One of the reasons that Lighthouse Baptist Church has a mission conference is so you will get to know your missionaries. That's one of the reasons they're a mission conference.
So take advantage of it. Because remember what I've said, that you pray for people you know. And after you've built that bond with them here, that bond can continue as you read your letters and you pray for him. Being a brother takes time.
To build bonds takes time. And we're encouraging you to take the time to get to know your missionaries. Without people like you, they won't accomplish everything God has for them to accomplish. Secondly, be willing to be a laborer.
Epaphroditus was a companion in labor. I want you to know that ministry is work. It's work. It's hard work. It's difficult work.
It's working when you'd rather not be working. It is work. And he said he labored with me. Paul identified Epaphroditus as a person who was busy working to help him reach the people that God had called him to. He was active.
He was doing something. And let's be like an Epaphroditus and work hard for our missionaries. There's always a lot more a church would like to do for the missionaries, for the mission program, for the mission emphasis each year. But the bottom line is a church can only do what volunteers allow a church to do. A pastor cannot do it all.
A staff cannot do it all. It takes volunteers for anything a church does. You take away the volunteers from this church, and do you have a Sunday school? No. You take away volunteers. Is there an Awana? Is there a teen group here?
No. It takes volunteers, people saying, I am willing to labor. And one of the things that's been talked about this week is the missionary care team that you can be a part of. And you can be 16 years old and up to be in that team to say, I'm going to be a laborer with our missionaries.
We can work hard for our missionaries by volunteering to do whatever needs to be done. And I'm a logistics guy. And what I like to see is I like to see how things come together. I ran a camp in the mountains of Southern California, and I was on a volunteer fire department. And what I loved more than anything else was to go on the big forest fires. I was on those big forest fires. And putting out the fire was kind of fun.
But what was really fun was watching how it all came together. Because when you were on a strike team going to a forest fire, you were on your own for the first 24 hours. You have to have a go bag, and you have to have everything in that bag you need for 24 hours. But then after that, everything gets set up, and they bring in these huge food stations. I mean, it's massive tents, bigger than this room right here. Massive tents full of food. And because firefighters are working 24 hours a day in that tent, any hour of the day you go in there, there's a full breakfast, there's a full lunch line, and there's a full dinner line.
You just figure whatever meal this is, and you just eat as much as you want to eat there. And I always like to see how did all that come together. So when I come to a mission conference, I like to see how it all comes together. There's been so many people working to make this happen. There are people that were making really good food. Now, the people who supplied the chocolate were the best.
So if you supplied the chocolate, give yourself two stars for what you did. But there were people that were putting brochures together, that were putting booze together, that were putting food together, that were going with the ladies to lunch, going with us to lunch today. So many people doing so many things. It takes laborers. It takes somebody saying, I'll do that, I'll do that. And there's an old rule of thumb that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. And, you know, you can say, I want to be part of the group that labors to make things happen. And, you know, laboring can be things like providing the food that we had over in one of these rooms and cleaning up the spills when the Wiltshire baby spilled something.
I'm just acknowledging you showed up over there, okay? They're just getting in from the Children's Ministry. Number three, be willing to be a soldier. Soldier takes it to the next level. A worker is one thing.
A fellow laborer is one thing. But then it says, you are my fellow soldier. Epaphroditus was a fellow spiritual soldier because we are in a spiritual battle. And it takes spiritual soldiers to work in a spiritual battle. Ministry is rough because Satan always fights the work of God, always has, always will. And so it takes spiritual soldiers to do this.
We are not just being attacked by flesh and blood by people, but we're being constantly hindered and discouraged by the rulers of darkness. The only way anyone can be effective in a spiritual battle we are in is to always have the whole armor on. You know, if you're going to be a soldier, you got to have the armor on. If you're going to be in God's armor, you need to have God's weaponry. You've got to have God's armor.
You've got to have everything on that God wants you to have. You see, the people that help Paul, and we're talking specifically about Epaphroditus here, but this would apply to lots of them. To really help Paul, you could not neglect the spiritual disciplines and effectively help your ministry.
And think about Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus made a big difference in my life, but one of the reasons that he made a big difference in my life was that he was a spiritual soldier. And the only way he could be a spiritual soldier was he maintained the disciplines. And if you really want to be effective for your missionary, you need to maintain those disciplines, the disciplines of church attendance, the discipline of reading your Bible, the discipline of praying and praying for this church and praying for missionaries, the discipline of reaching people around you. We need to be that spiritual soldier.
We can't think that all we have to do is bring a little bit of some bread or a dessert or a salad to a meal. It goes beyond that, the saying, I want to be a spiritual soldier. We're in a spiritual battle, and what our missionaries need, what the skeletons need, and what the Wilchers need, what they need is any fellow soldiers who are pleading with them in prayer, who are reading their Bible, who are attending church so they can be faithful and helping, like we talked about the other night, be that hub so that this is a very strong hub for missionaries. It takes a spiritual soldier to do that.
Number four, be willing to be a messenger. Epaphroditus was a messenger. Epaphroditus was a man sent by the church of Philippi to bring an offering so that they could bless Paul. We see this in Philippians 4 18.
So we have a church in Philippi. They know that Paul's in jail, and they say Paul needs some stuff. And so what they did was they gathered as much stuff as they could gather, and then they needed somebody to take it to Paul, and it was Epaphroditus. He was the messenger that took what the church gathered to Paul.
Now, to do that, you've got to be a trustworthy person, don't you? You've got to trust this person that you're giving money to. Probably what they took him was money and clothes and whatever they had that they thought that Paul needed.
They gave it to him. And he had to be trustworthy to be able to get it to Paul. Our missionaries are dependent on us to be God's faithful messengers.
2 Corinthians 4 verse 2 says, Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. The people in Philippi entrusted money and clothes and other things to Epaphroditus because they were confident that they would get to Paul. And my question to you is, are you a trusted person that God can say, I know I can give this to them because I will know they will get it where it needs to go. Can God trust you with enough money so that he will give you money that you will give?
God gave me this because he wanted me to pass it on. And God can trust you with extra money because he knows what you'll do with it. Can God trust you to give you some extra time to pray and volunteer from the church?
And we just won't use that time just to sit around and waste it. But we'll be very careful with the time that God gives us. The number five, be willing to be a minister. Be willing to be a minister. Epaphroditus was Paul's minister. Now, the word used for minister here is a word that we know is liturgy. Epaphroditus was more than a messenger delivering things from the church that Philippi sent. He was able to actually minister to Paul. Our missionaries are in need of the same kind of ministry Paul was. Now, the good thing about Paul is that he wrote so much.
And because he wrote so much, we can go through the Bible and know exactly what he was talking about when he said he ministered to me. Because Paul had needs like anybody has needs. But when he had those needs, he put them in the Bible. So when we talk about ministering, I'm going to give you several areas here that Paul himself said he needed help in. Now, as I go through this, where Paul himself said he needed some help in, then that makes it okay to say our missionaries need the same kind of help. If Paul needed it, our missionaries needed it.
Let's go a few of these things that Paul told us about. He told us that he had physical needs. Paul said, I have some physical needs.
2 Timothy 4 verse 13, The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee and the books, especially the parchiments. He just said, I have a physical need. I need a coat.
Do you know what he said? I'm cold. Skeletons are cold.
Hong Kong is hot and humid. They didn't have a good enough coat today, but we didn't loan them ours. Paul was in need of a winter coat because he was getting cold. In other places in the Bible we see people had a physical need.
Remember when Elijah was running and the angel came to help him when he was running from Jezebel? And he met his needs of food and rest. We all have physical needs, and missionaries have physical needs. And so if we're going to minister to our missionaries, we do everything we can to take care of their physical needs. Paul talked about that he had some emotional needs as well. He had physical needs and he had emotional needs. There was a time when he expressed fear.
2 Corinthians chapter 7 and verse 5, From when we were in Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side, without we're fighting, within were fears. You know, missionaries go through things and deal with things that cause fears that we never even really know about. To me, one of the funny ones was there was a couple in the Matthews who were the first missionaries who went to Australia from the Baptist Bible Fellowship.
The very first missionaries. Nobody else was there. They'd never been there.
Back in those days when they went, nobody took survey trips. You just felt called to go and you raised your support and then you just landed there. And all they knew about Australia was that they were going to land and that they were supposed to get on a bus to go to a hotel to spend the first night. And that's all they knew. But when they got there, they found out where the bus was going to be that was going to take them to the hotel. So they were going to go over there and wait for that bus. And they went right where the sign said to wait for them.
But there was a sign that had number 2 on it because you were supposed to go to sign 2 to get this bus. And right underneath it, it said, no standing. And they said, we've got to be here to get this bus and there's no standing. And they didn't know the culture. They didn't know what it really meant. They just said, no standing.
And so they just went over there and they said, well, we can't stand here. We don't want to get arrested. So they went and they sat on the curb and waited for the bus because they were afraid to stand up. Because if they stand up, they're going to get arrested. Of course, you know, in an English-speaking country, no standing just means no parking because the bus was supposed to be there.
But that's kind of a funny one. But missionaries face all kinds of stuff like that. They don't really know, am I doing everything right in getting this visa, in signing these documents? I mean, I don't know the culture. And I hear I'm signing a lease on a house.
Do I really know what I'm doing? There are so many fears that missionaries have that none of us have. So Paul had the emotional need for fear. Paul needed comfort.
2 Corinthians 7, 6. Nevertheless, God that comforted those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus. Comfort. Missionaries are times when what they just need is somebody to bring them comfort. To let them know it's going to be okay. To let them know that this is a difficult time.
You don't understand what's going on. But God's going to get you through this. Comfort comes from God. He needed a refreshed spirit.
1 Corinthians 16, verse 17 through 18. I'm glad the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaeus, for that which was lacking on your part, they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours.
Therefore acknowledge ye them as such. Refresh just means allowed them to rest or be revived. He just needed a time of refreshment.
We don't know exactly what Paul's friends did for him. We just know that whatever it was, it refreshed them. And missionaries will tell you a lot of times it's just an encouraging email that refreshes them. It's just providing them for a time to just take a step back and rest a little bit. Paul expressed how important the refreshment was to him by saying the people who refreshed him should be appreciated and honored.
That's what it says at the end of that verse. Therefore, acknowledge thee them are such. He says they refreshed me. Acknowledge them. Thank them for what they did for me. It was such a big deal. He wanted to make sure that other people thanked them for what they did for him.
He also expressed that he had some social needs. 2 Timothy 4 and 9 through 11. Do thy diligence to come unto me, for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica, Cretans to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profit of me for the ministry. Paul's by himself.
In fact, we know that Paul in these verses had been sentenced to death and is in his last days. In his last days, he longed for companionship. He longed for some people to be there with him. And knowing Paul, he also wanted to get some work done because that's just the kind of guy that he was.
But he says, Would you come to me? You know where the losses that missionaries face? Is there loss of close personal friends? Do you know what it's like to be in a church, be part of a church, be an officer in a church, be a teacher in the church, be there for all the events, for camps and Christmas and all that, and then be gone for four or five years? When you come back, all those close friends are kind of moved on. You know, everybody's kind of gone the other way and you walk into the church and sometimes you feel like a stranger. And for a good reason could be because there's so many new people are there, which is really great.
But you just don't have what you used to have that's there. Missionaries face the loss of friendships. Many times when missionaries come home on furlough, they don't even recognize the people that they knew so well, just because their lives have just gone in two different directions.
And Paul was just saying, I need some close friends. He also expressed his spiritual needs. 1 Thessalonians 5 13, Brethren, pray for us.
He expressed his spiritual needs by saying, Pray for me. Missionaries are in need of ministry, too. Missionaries need preaching, need teaching, need training, need coaching, and the ministry of one from another. And God brought people into Paul's life, like Epaphroditus, who was actually able to minister to him. That means that he could pour into him, especially on a ministry level. And God brought people in his life for a short amount of time that were able to minister to him. And that's one of the things that Karen and I get to do as we work with missionaries now, as we train missionaries and coach missionaries and have our missionary communication workshop.
We get to pour into them in so many different ways, and we have a real joy in doing that. We help missionaries with their strategy. I spent some time on the phone today with a missionary, helping him to raise the funds to buy a building that they're trying to build. We've been able to help a lot of missionaries over the rough spots, and missionaries need that.
And a lot of times, a pastoral visit is a big deal to a missionary, when a pastor can go and visit a missionary and be able to really pour into him as another person in ministry, helping them with some missionary needs. Paul knew how much he needed all the people involved in traveling with him, praying for him, caring for him, and meeting his spiritual needs. We know how much it meant to him by how much he thanked the people for what they did. Philippians 2 29 says, Receive him, and when they received him, there he's talking about Epaphroditus, the guy that did so much for Paul. Receive him therefore in the Lord with gladness, and hold such in reputation.
That means hold him up in honor. When he gets back, would you honor him for all he did for me? Missionaries you help support and pray for will feel the same way about you.
I'm so thankful for these people. Philippians 2 30 said, Because for the work of Christ, he was nighing to death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service towards me. He says he was even willing to die to help me. In Philippians, Paul said he abounded. And remember, we talked about that on Sunday morning, that he abounded because they gave him so much. And what I see in this, there was one church that said, We're going to take care of this missionary.
And because they poured so much into him, he said, I abound. Now we show you this chart with all those people that were supporting Paul. Do you find yourself anywhere on that? Is there something where you are planted into one of those positions saying, This is who I am.
This is what I'm doing. Will you be one of the people God uses to help your missionaries? When I was reading some of the names of the people that were in each of the different groups, I said, Now you recognize this name. You'll recognize this name.
Now you're not going to recognize this name. And, you know, you may be a person that nobody ever knows about. And sometimes you do things are missionaries and they don't even know what you did for them.
But we don't have to be known. We just have to be one of the people that's up there that's supporting the missionaries that this church has. What can you do? You can bond with them so they become your brother. You can labor with them, supplying whatever it is that they need.
You can engage in spiritual warfare with them by being on your knees, praying for them. You can be trustworthy with everything God gives you that he really gave through you. And you say, God is giving this money through me to missionaries and God can trust me because I'll give it to missionaries.
God has given me some time and I'm going to invest that. And we can minister to them. The title of tonight's messages.
It takes all of us to reach the world. And my question to you tonight is, are you on that chart in this church some way? How are you part of supporting the missionaries in this church? I'd like you to bow your head and close your eyes.
And you know that I ask you to do this so that you can try to process a little bit of what we talked about tonight. It truly does take all of us to reach the world. This church has a lot of missionaries and this church is very active. And like I said, I saw so much being done by so many people just to make this mission conference happen. But this mission conference is just one of the things this church does for missionaries. Maybe you really can be on that missions team. And all year long, you're reading the letters and praying for the missionaries. And my challenge to you tonight is this. When you mentally thought through this church and what this church does for missions, and if somebody had put a chart up about this church, would you have found your place in one of those silhouettes that were there?
That was that's me. I'm the one that's praying for them. I'm the one that's giving.
I'm the one that's encouraging them. Would you have found yourself? Maybe tonight you just need to think that through and say, I need to find myself in a place where I'm serving my missionaries. Paul did so much because he had so many people helping him.
Skelton's not only need people praying for them, they need people to come and help them. Maybe God is calling you to go to the mission field. What is God doing with you in this mission conference this week? Father in heaven, thank you for Epaphroditus. Thank you for what he did for Paul and for all the people did for Paul. And I pray that when we get to heaven and the names are read of the people that helped the skeletons and the Wilchers and the other missionaries of this church, that our name will be found in the list of people that were standing behind them as they went to the mission field. I pray you'll convict us tonight to be part of your plan to reach the world in Jesus name.
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