I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
We have launched our second mission start since I have come to St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas. The first, LifeBridge Church is led by Pastor Michael Meissner, and will soon be building on their site on Mueschke Road – just under 6 miles from St. John. The other is Cypress Chapel, which meets on St. John’s campus but is a separately functioning ministry, founded upon a missional community approach to mission. These are both unique ministries, led by incredible mission pastors, and spawned by significant kingdom investments of St. John.
The investments which have been made in these starts include not only money, but people. And in both cases the people investments have been significant: two talented and gifted pastors, plus a number of families in each case have gone on from our fellowship and are making up the core of these churches. I can understand how Paul and the people of Philippi must have felt in their mutual investment/reinvestment of Epaphroditus and Timothy, together with the financial support the Philippian church had given Paul for his continued mission efforts.
This Sunday Pastor Stephen DeMik will be back at St. John while Diane and I are away. The following Wednesday Pastor Michael Meissner will lead the midweek Lenten worship services in our absence. I am certain there will be great joy on the part of people who see and hear these faithful servants, as well as their joy in connecting with the people of God at St. John. I thank God for these brothers and urge people of St. John to receive them with great joy, honoring them for the work that they are doing for the Lord’s kingdom. I don’t think either of them has come even remotely close to death (unlike Epaphroditus!), but I do know that they and their families have made significant personal sacrifices to birth these missional ministries.
Sometimes kingdom investments pay dividends we could not have imagined. In one case very generous financial donors went with a mission start. Thanks be to God, however, he raised up others who have more than filled the gap. And as people have gone to these mission starts, God has allowed us to connect with other new folks in his mission at St. John. A kingdom investment is truly that: an investment. It is a delight