overlapping hands of STM team and local people

‘Familyship’ around the World – MD Issue #41

Every morning Penny and I enjoy praying for our spiritual family members around the world . . . yes, literally around the world! One of the great privileges of serving the Lord in global ministries is the strong bond that develops between Christian Brothers and Sisters. We have either personally led some of these people to the Lord and discipled them, or we have met them in the many travels that we have made in the ministry of Compass 28:19.

We have spiritual family members in South Africa, Mali, Niger, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, China, Taiwan, Germany, England, Turkey, Chili, Peru, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and many other areas of the world.

They are more than friends; they are like family members. When you have had the pleasure of being in the ‘spiritual labor room’ with many of them (leading them to the Savior), you don’t just cast them away and forget them – they are members of your spiritual family.

I like how Pastor Rick Warren describes our spiritual family, “When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. The family of God includes all believers in the past, the present, and the future.” Then there are those who are in career ministry and have traveled the same journey as we have with its good times and the not so good times.

Many of our dear spiritual family members reside in South Africa, where our four church plants are located: Johannesburg, Kokstad, and two churches in Cape Town. Many of these precious folks were saved and discipled under our church planting ministry. To our surprise, many of them are still communicating with us today.

As Director of Africa ministries for our global mission from 1995 to 2002, I traveled the continent of Africa and developed more spiritual family members as I worked with both our agency’s missionaries and the nationals in the countries I was visiting.

I love reading Romans 16 where the Apostle Paul lavishes his greetings upon at least 26 people and with several churches who were meeting in homes. He closed chapter 16 with greetings from nine believers who were with him in Corinth when he wrote the letter. Warren Wiersbe shares his thoughts on this chapter in his Bible Exposition Commentary, “It shows that Paul is a friend maker, as well as a soul winner. He did not try to live an isolated life; he had friends in the Lord, and he appreciated them. They were a help to him personally and in the ministry. We are sheep and sheep need to flock together.”  

Penny and I pray for these spiritual family members who live and minister around the world. Now, we don’t name all of them every day, but we do include their ministries, their prayer requests, and we realize and understand the trials and tribulations they are facing.

As Disciple-Makers, I’d like to challenge you to:
1. Make friends

2. Make disciples

3. Pray for them daily

4. Encourage them through texts, phones calls, emails, letters, and face to face

5. Be there for them and with them – that’s what spiritual family members do for each other.