“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” PHILIPPIANS 2:10-14
When the Apostle Paul wrote these words he had already been a missionary over 20 years; started churches on two continents; seen visions unspeakable; been shipwrecked, beaten, starved, stoned and been in several prisons; recruited and trained missionaries and pastors like Timothy, Silas, Luke and Epaphroditus; had written half of the New Testament. Yet, he still wanted to know his Lord better and he determined to press on ahead in His service!
But perhaps the most significant and overlooked aspect of his life and ministry was Paul’s awareness of and appreciation for his missionary team. All the way thru the New Testament we can see that Paul surrounded himself with helpers, and co-workers. Even when he was confined to prison, he soon made converts and then disciples of his fellow prisoners.
In the news this morning was the story of the 64-year old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad who became the first person to swim from Cuba to the USA without a shark cage. One of her messages at the end of the swim was “it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.” She acknowledged her team of 35 people who had made her record setting swim a reality.
Throughout the New Testament, Paul was writing to or about many people he considered as a vital part of his missionary team. In Romans chapter 15 alone, he calls the names of 35 people who had helped him in his missionary ministry.
Missionaries today, like Dun and Eleanor Gordy, are very much aware that our ministries are no different than that of the Apostle Paul. In fact, most of us feel that the teamwork of those behind us is even more necessary than those Paul had. I mean, he was a super-saint wasn’t he? And if a first century servant who had met our Lord in a face-to-face, personal and physically in such a dramatic encounter as the Damascus Road needed a solid support team, how much more do we!