Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15–16
In the months and years after the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, the early church began to carry out the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. As the church grew and the gospel spread, a significant development occurs in Acts 13—the Holy Spirit commands the apostles to “set apart…Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” This moment marked the first ever sending of missionaries commissioned by a local church to preach the gospel and plant new churches in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
As we read of these missionary journeys in Acts and Paul’s epistles, we not only witness the global impact of Paul’s efforts, but we see another kind of ministry taking place in the background, which Paul considered vital to his own: the ministry of help and support that other believers gave to the Apostle as he did the work for which the Holy Spirit set him apart. From time to time we see glimpses of this ministry in Paul’s letters. Philippians shows us Epaphroditus, who blessed and encouraged Paul even at the peril of his own life. In Romans, Paul’s heart overflows in the final chapter as he greets various believers, referring to many of them as “fellow workers” or “fellow prisoners.” In 2 Timothy, Paul asks Timothy to bring John Mark to him, who had abandoned Paul in Pamphylia but had now grown to the point where Paul considered him “useful to me for service.”
These faithful servants and, no doubt, many others who are not mentioned by name in Scripture, provided all-important service and support to the early missionary efforts—often, as was the case in Epahroditus’ life, at great personal risk. These examples illustrate the body of Christ in action, with each part fulfilling different but essential roles.
It is in this spirit of service and love among the body of Christ that we send short-term ministry (STM) teams every summer to build up and encourage our missionaries. In addition to blessing our missionaries, STM trips are a wonderful opportunity to work together with like-minded believers and to learn more about what the Lord is doing around the world. Many of our missionaries can look back and see how the Lord used a short-term trip as an early step in their path toward full-time ministry overseas.
Today marks the beginning of a new season of STMs at Grace. Ten teams have been requested by our missionaries or ministry partners and all Grace Church members who are 18 or older are invited to apply to join a team.
The teams will be doing a wide variety of ministry including evangelism, supporting conferences, hosting Vacation Bible Schools with local churches, and more. To learn more about the 2022 STM trips, please join us today for a brief informational meeting.