For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. — Romans 1:11-12
It seems like yesterday, almost two years ago, when I came to Cornerstone Church for the first time to welcome back a friend returning from his first short-term mission trip to India (2015) with Epaphroditus.
This friend recently moved to Iowa from Wisconsin with his wife and three kids. He left his family, lifelong friends, a good job, and all life’s comfortable conveniences because he and his wife felt as though God were calling them to go. And they did. They would end up in Monticello, Iowa, where his wife grew up and much of her family still lived.
Both of these acts—traveling to another country and the uprooting of a family—were courageous acts of faith, especially to me as an unbeliever at the time. It was the first time I had seen or knew of anyone who had truly believed in their faith, enough so, to act upon it in extreme ways. It was not just word service anymore but an obedience to what they knew to be true. He was courageous and I was encouraged.
Fast-forward two years later, by God’s grace, He gave growth to the seeds of faith planted and watered by many people whom He placed along my path. And now, Lord willing, it is my turn to fully trust in the Him with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5). As the Epaphroditus team prepares to go to Kerala, India next week, it is our turn to encourage others through acts of faith, sharing with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that He will be with us each step of the way.
Encouraged by Jesus
When it comes to our call for missions, we can see Jesus` encouragement for us in Matthew 28:19-20.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In these verses, Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples”. We do so that their hearts(1) will be encouraged to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ (Colossians 2:2).
It is through their baptism into Christ that we are mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both theirs and ours. We are called to teach them and spur them on(2)—that is, to encourage them to observe all that Christ commanded.
And finally, Jesus gives encouragement to those who follow him, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.“. He is with us each step of the way through the help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). In doing so, he continues to foster(3) the growth and development of his disciples to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
There are countless other examples of encouragement found throughout the bible. The word encourage is a verb and it requires action; it is about going and doing. So whether you are a goer or a sender, I would urge you to get involved with Epaphroditus and help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will be mutually encouraged.