As I read the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters, I am struck by the countless number of people who sacrifice all they have for the sake of Christ. Just yesterday I read about Epaphroditus mentioned in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. Paul calls him a “fellow worker and fellow soldier” sent by the church to care for Paul’s needs. It goes on to report that he had been ill and almost died.
Having just returned from a mission trip to Kenya, I’ve been reflecting on the countless persons who have given their lives away for the sake of Christ. While on the trip I read a biography, written by Gina Riendeau, of Ken and Lorainne Enright who served their entire lives in Congo as Methodist missionaries. Time and time again, they were threatened, even arrested, yet they continued to faithfully serve, and their children continue to serve today.
I think of Tony, a native Kenyan, who leads a ministry to 150 boys who live on the streets of Kenya’s third largest city. Every Sunday he’s there ministering to them, when nearly everyone else in the community ignores them and wishes they’d go away. I also think of Julie Campbell, a missionary with the Mission Society, who left her home in Pennsylvania after working in the area of social work for two-dozen years and settled in Wachara, a tiny village in the bush of Kenya, where she serves children who have been orphaned due to HIV/Aids through Life for Children Ministry. Julie lit up when someone from our mission team offered her a package of cheese crackers from America. She goes without such simple comforts every day!
And the church in Africa continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The area the Enrights served leads the entire United Methodist denomination in the growth of converts and churches. Julie is not only serving those kids but has also founded four new churches, all while pastoring a church that my congregation in Fort Wayne had a part in starting.
So as I read about Epaphroditus, and think about the Enrights and Julie, I ask myself to what degree I am willing to give it all up for the sake of Christ and the mission of His church. What about you? And guess what, we don’t even have to go to a distant land. We can do it every day right where God has placed us!
– Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development