Partners wanted!

Tempo di lettura: 3 minuti

by Simon Cowell, GBU Staff worker in Bari

One of my favourite bible passages is Philippians 1.  The letter to the Philippians is rightly known as “the letter of joy” for the deep connection between the apostle Paul and this small church in the ancient Roman city of Philippi.  Having greeted the church, the first thing Paul writes is this:

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-5

Did you notice the main reason for the apostle’s profound gratitude to God?  It’s their partnership in the gospel – this good work started in them by God, so that this church wouldn’t just be recipients of the gospel but active participants in it.  Sometimes we don’t think about how amazing this is: Paul, this giant of the early church, history’s first great missionary, the man chosen by God to take the gospel to the Gentiles – this man considered the partnership of this tiny, insignificant church to be immensely precious, and brought him great joy.  Why?

Partnership in the gospel

Paul knew that the work of the gospel is too big, too vast and important to be left to the “professionals” or “experts” (even those as able and gifted as the apostles!)  Proclaiming Jesus, and the eternal life to be found in him, is the main mission of the church – of the whole church, including that small community in Philippi.  This is a profound biblical truth: every Christian ministry is fundamentally collaborative.  In the case of Paul and the Philippians, it was Paul who criss-crossed the Mediterranean (multiple times!), preaching Christ and founding churches.  It was the Philippians who contributed in two vitally important ways: prayerful support, and financial support.

The importance of prayer

Referring to his imprisonment and his gospel “rivals”, Paul writes this to the Philippians: “I know that this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ”.  Even though they weren’t physically with him, Paul explains the importance of their prayers in the midst of his difficulties – they are the only thing he mentions other than the help of the Holy Spirit!
Partnership in the gospel means praying; interceding with the Lord of Hosts to do what only He can do: transform hearts and minds to accept Christ Jesus and the eternal life that only he can offer.

The importance of giving

Still writing to the Philippians, Paul speaks various times of his joy in their financial partnership in the gospel:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me… no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone”

(4:10, 15)

Paul also emphasises that this financial partnership is not a matter of his needs, and certainly not of his greed.  Rather, he underlines the benefits that they receive as a result of their generosity:

“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account… and my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”

(4:17, 19)

All of this to say that giving to those who proclaim the gospel isn’t just a sacrifice, or even an investment, but a means but which God blesses even the giver.  When we give we are growing in spiritual fruitfulness; when we give, strangely, we receive from the divine riches.  No wonder the apostle was full of joy to see these precious brothers and sisters openly show the work of the Spirit in them!

The GBU, the gospel and you

Partnership in the gospel, therefore, is one of Paul’s main reasons for thankfulness and for joy.  And the mission of the GBU is that the proclamation of the same gospel of Jesus Christ might continue even today, in every Italian university – that we might in some way be sharing Jesus from student to student.  But just as Paul couldn’t and didn’t want to take on this project alone, so it is for us in the GBU. 

We’re looking for partners!  We’re looking for people who are going to strive in prayer together with us, who also want to see Jesus proclaimed and glorified in Italian universities, and who want to support this work financially.  If you’re not already our partner, or a member of the Associazione GBU, or a financial donor, then today’s the day to start this beautiful partnership – for the salvation of souls, for the growth of the Italian (and beyond!) church, and for our mutual building up in the faith.  To find out more, click the link below!