Its Sunday, so I thought it might be nice to do something light and share something directly from my heart.
When Paul writes a letter, he says something at the end that always struck me a little odd. Its a set of greetings. The Book of Romans is the most extensive of them, in which almost the entirety of chapter 16 is devoted to greetings. Now, I always recognized that it is a nice thing to end a letter with greetings. You want people to know that you love them and are thinking about them. However, now that I am myself a missionary, I see a different purpose.
When I am in Nepal, Inida, Israel, Mexico, and other countries, I invest myself into the people I meet. I develop relationship and pour my heart into them. However, after I do this, I leave and I am back in America working at my church. I am sitting in the church and all of the sudden I find my mind drifting and thinking of the people I have poured my heart into.
I can’t possibly name them all, because there are so many people around the world, but as I think about them, I remember the letters of Paul. I remember the greetings he sends and I see that it is more than just a nice greeting, but actually He is thinking of them. He loves them. These are people he has personally met and ministered to. He has invested himself into their lives.
Now I know how this feels. I have people I think of often. I pray from them, and my heart has a pull that is just waiting to be back with them laboring alongside them and working the kingdom with them.
I think about my friends in Mexico. The pastors, and the leaders. The students and the people. The families that have invited us into their homes. I think of the times we gathered to worship with one another, and I remember how the spirit of God touched us. I think of the look on their face as I got on the bus to head home. I remember the feeling in my stomach as I left. It goes beyond just being people you know, as you labor in the kingdom together you become family.
I remember the churches in Nepal and India, I remember the students who came to our school of worship. I remember how eager they were to hear God’s word and grow in their understanding of the Bible, and their relationship with Christ. I remember their smiles, and I remember how the spirit fell as they led worship in our big outreach.
You just don’t know the feeling you get when you labor with someone, invest in them, and you see them grow. The Bible says we rejoice together and we weep together, and I and rejoicing for my friends, and my family all over the world. I am rejoicing for the people who heard the message of the Gospel and gave their lives to Christ. I remember their face as the Holy Spirit began to touch them and The Light of Christ went into their eyes.
So, I am writing this letter to each of you. To the churches in Mexico, and to my family there. My son David, my brother Adolfo and His wife Ruth. Pastor Gustavo, Pastora Ruth. My good friend Marisol.
To the churches in Nepal, to Vasker and His wife Natalie, To Pastor Manoj, To my brother Ajoy who never fails to make me laugh. To the students who are so passionate about God and love to praise His name.
To my friends in Israel, Sean who is boldly taking the gospel to anyone who will listen. To Pastor Rick Ridings and The house of prayer which stands on Mt Zion and Praise the Lord Day and Night. To my friends who I love dearly.
This letter is to all of you and so many more that I couldn’t name you all individually. I praise God for you. I rejoice in the work He is doing in each and every one of your lives and the work He is doing through you to reach the whole world. I want to leave you with some of the great benedictions Paul left to His friends from the churches around the world.
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-27
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 1st Thessalonians 5:23-24
And finally, one last benediction for you…
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. ” 1st Corinthians 16:23-24
I really do think of you all often, and my heart is anxious for the day that we get to be together again and worship the Lord side by side.