Craig Smith - Christian MVPs
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills. So glad to have you with us today. If you’re just joining us, let me catch up real quick. We’re in the midst of our Boundless Series, working our way through the Book of Philippians to uncover the secret to living bigger than our circumstances, or as Paul says in the Book of Philippians, the secret to being content in any and every situation. Now, one of the clearest teachings of the Book of Philippians is that the secret to that, the secret to living bigger than my circumstances is having a purpose that is bigger than my circumstances. Because when we have a purpose that’s bigger than our circumstances, it can’t be derailed by our circumstances and it transforms the way that we see our circumstances. So that’s one of the big secrets.
Now, I’ve got good news and I got bad news. And you’re like, “Why is there always have to be bad news, right? Like why it can’t just be good news?” Here’s the good news. Let’s start with the good news. This is really good news, okay? The good news is that as followers of Jesus, if you put your trust in Jesus Christ then you have that purpose, you have that purpose that’s bigger than your circumstances. It’s too big to be derailed by your circumstances, whatever they are. And it’s so big that it can in fact transform your circumstances, changing obstacles into opportunities, changing what looks like it’s gonna get in the way of everything that you are becoming, it can actually be the very instrument that causes you to advance into everything that God designed you to be. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have that purpose, and this is our purpose.
Our purpose is to become like Jesus and to join him on mission. This is what we were made for, this is what Jesus died to redeem us for and this is what we’re destined for. It is a purpose too big to be derailed by our circumstances and so big that it transforms our circumstances and us in the midst of them. That’s the good news. We have that circumstance. We have that purpose that’s bigger than our circumstance.
Here’s the bad news. A purpose that’s bigger than my circumstances is also bigger than me. A purpose that’s bigger than our circumstances is also bigger than me. Why is that a bad thing? Because if it’s bigger than me, it’s not about me. And that’s a struggle for us, isn’t it? Because we live in a culture that says it’s all about you, right? If they say it’s all about you until being all about you gets in the way of it being all about me. And that’s a problem because it’s really in fact at the very foundation of our culture is this unfortunate idea that it’s all about me. But it’s not. But that’s the way that we’ve lived for a very long time.
You go all the way back to the Book of Genesis. When God created Adam and Eve, he made them as his image. They made them to represent him, to extend his influence in creation. He said, “Rule and subdue creation. You’re gonna wrestle with creation and bring it under control and you’re gonna extend my influence throughout every nook and cranny of creation.” And he gave him a garden and he said, “Here’s kind of the template. Look around and see what I did here? You’re gonna do this out there.” But he said, “Hey, in the middle of the garden, there’s one tree and you’re not supposed to eat the fruit from that tree.” The tree was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said don’t eat from that tree.
And the tree of the knowledge of good and evil almost certainly means the tree of deciding for yourself because that’s how they use that phrase in the ancient world. “To know good from evil” was really kind of a euphemism for being able to decide for yourself. They would speak about young people when they got to a certain age, let’s say, “Hey, if they’re old enough to know good from evil, which meant they’re old enough to make their own decisions and to be responsible for them.” In other words, they’re old enough to decide for themselves. And so God said, “Hey, that one tree, the tree of deciding for itself, don’t eat from that one.”
And, of course, then Satan showed up, right? Satan showed up and he said, “I know you heard that if you eat from that tree, you’ll die.” Which honestly makes perfect sense, right? Because if you’re deciding for yourself, you’re unplugging from God. And if God is the author and the source of life, and you unplug from God to go your own direction, you’re unplugging from life. So, of course, it leads to death. That makes perfect sense.
But Satan showed up and he said, “Nah, nah, nah.” Look at this. This is Genesis 3:4. It said, “‘No, you will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be open and you will be like God, knowing good from evil, deciding for yourself.'”
You notice all the “you’s” in there? You see them? It’s not an accident because what Satan is basically saying is, “Hey, it is all about you.” And we’ve been living that lie ever since. We’ve been living the lie that it’s all about me. And so the problem is when it’s all about me, my circumstances will always derail my contentment. When it’s all about me, my circumstances will always get in the way of me and my agenda and my purposes and my designs and my dreams and all that kind of stuff. And when circumstances aren’t going our way, we’re at the mercy of them and our contentment is fleeting. It’s inaccessible, it’s unavailable to us as long as it’s all about me.
Now, the good news again is that if we embrace a purpose that’s bigger than our circumstances, we’re no longer at the mercy of our circumstances. But to embrace a purpose that’s bigger than our circumstances means that we have to embrace a purpose that’s bigger than me. And to do that we have to say, “I guess it’s not actually about me.” And that’s tough because, from the moment that Satan showed up in the garden, we have built a culture that’s oriented around this idea that it’s all about me. It’s so permeates our culture that it’s invaded the Church itself. I see it even in the way that we talk about the Gospel.
I’ve had the privilege over the years of being in all kinds of churches all around the world, and I’ve heard some version of this in almost every American church, at least, that I’ve ever been in. Here’s the American version of the Gospel. The American Gospel says this, “Hey, good news. Jesus died for you so you can be forgiven of your sins so that you can go to heaven when you die.” And let’s be honest. That’s good news, but you notice there’s a whole lot of something in there, isn’t there? Whole lot of what? There’s a whole lot of you, which sounds suspiciously like exactly what Satan said.
This is the incredible sneakiness of the enemy’s agenda. That even in the good news of the Gospel, he’s managed to allow us to kind of somehow slide back into this idea that it’s somehow all about me and that’s not the Gospel that Jesus came proclaiming. The Gospel that Jesus proclaimed was God does love you. It is about you in that extent. He loves you deeply, so much so that he died so that you could be adopted into his family and you can be redeemed for his purpose. But you gotta understand it’s not about you. And until we are able to embrace a purpose that’s bigger than me, we’ll never be able to experience a contentment that goes beyond our circumstances. How on earth do we do that?
I wanna introduce you to a couple of guys today. If you wanna grab your Bibles and start making your way to the Book of Philippians chapter 2. We’re gonna be picking up in verse 19 where Paul is gonna introduce us to a couple of men. Now, these may be men that you’ve heard their names before, but honestly, at least one of these guys, you may have never heard their name, and some of you may have never heard either of their names. He’s gonna introduce two guys, Timothy and a guy named Epaphroditus. I have to say that very carefully because that’s a five-syllable name and that is… I’ve been looking for a like a nickname for him and the closest I came up with Pappy and that just feels wrong. So we’re gonna keep saying it.
But how many of you have heard of Timothy? How many of you heard that name before? A lot of people have heard of Timothy. How many of you have heard of Epaphroditus? Not nearly so many hands. And that’s not surprising because, honestly, these guys wouldn’t be in our minds at all if it weren’t for the fact that Paul thought highly of them because they’re not guys who necessarily did anything that drew attention to themselves. They’re not necessarily guys who led really big churches or preached amazing messages or wrote books of Scripture or advanced the Gospel into places that they’d never been before. They’re not actually guys who did any of that stuff, and so they’re not necessarily people we would be prone to knowing their names.
But what’s interesting is that in spite of the fact that we wouldn’t necessarily know their names, Paul thought that we should know their names. Paul thought it was important that we know their names not so much that we know their names, but we know something about them. Because what Paul is gonna tell us is these guys are incredibly valuable. When it comes to our mission as followers of Jesus, these guys are MVPs, which raises an interesting issue.
In our culture, we tend to think, well, if we wouldn’t know their names, then they can’t be all that valuable, right? But here’s an important truth we need to understand today before we get going. The number of people who know your name is no measure of your value to the team. Do you hear me, church? The number of people who know your name is no measure of your value to the team.
Let me prove this. How many of you can name one current or historical…? I don’t care. Just name one NFL quarterback. How many of you can do that? Come on. Get your hands up. Online, just go, you can type it in, right? Let the host know, right? Almost everybody, okay. I’m not a big sports fan. I can name seven or eight. Next question. How many of you can name one current or historical NFL left tackle? Interesting. A couple of probably fantasy football nerds out there, a couple of you. All right. I’m impressed. I’m impressed, but the vast majority have said no, right? Not surprising.
Here’s what’s interesting. On average, the highest-paid position in the NFL is, in fact, the left tackle position. On average, they make more than anybody else in the league. Why? Because without them, the quarterback can’t do their job. But nobody knows their name and yet the amount of money spent on them proves that in fact, they are incredibly valuable. What are we saying? We’re saying that the number of people who know your name is no measure of your value to the team. And what Paul is gonna do is he’s gonna describe some guys that we would not know their names apart from him, but they’re incredibly valuable.
And as we read through this, here’s what I want you to do, as we read through this, look for those qualities that made them so valuable. Here’s what he says. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon.” He’s writing to the Church at Philippi. He says, “I got this guy named Timothy. I’m hoping that I can send it to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” So he’s heard that they’re facing some challenges and he wants to send Timothy down to kind of find out what’s what and then report back because Paul’s anxious.
He says, “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father, he has served with me in the work of the Gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.” He doesn’t know how his arrest…he’s in jail in Rome. He’s waiting trial. He doesn’t know what the outcome that’s gonna be, so he’s gonna send Timothy to kind of let them know once he knows.
“And I’m confident,” he says, “in the Lord that I myself will come soon. But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, my co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and he’s distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and he almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not only in him, but also on me to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. And therefore, I’m all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again, you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. And so then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him.”
In fact, if you’ve got a physical Bible, I encourage you to underline those words. It’s really important words. “And honor people like him because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help that you yourselves could not give me.” And when he says, “he made up for the help you couldn’t give me,” what he’s basically saying is this. He’s saying, “Hey, what I really needed was I needed company. I needed your company, but you couldn’t all come. And so he made the sacrifice to come and to be with me, to give me your company. He kind of, sort of a stand-in for you.”
Now, Epaphroditus also brought money. But Paul saying he had the money wasn’t nearly as important as the company, but the money was on some level important. Here’s what was going on. Paul was in jail because he’s been preaching the Gospel and so he’s awaiting a trial to find out what’s gonna happen. Now, an interesting thing about jail is that, you know, jail’s expensive. Did you know that? We have a problem in this country because we have so many people incarcerated and keeping them fed and clothed and to keep the heat on or the air conditioning or whatever, it’s an incredibly expensive thing to take care of all those people who aren’t producing anything for society. It’s actually a significant issue in our culture.
Rome solved the problem, and here’s how they solved the problem. When you went into jail, they’re like, “Good luck,” meaning they didn’t feel obligated to feed you. They didn’t feel obligated to get you water. They didn’t feel obligated to make sure you had clothes. They didn’t care about the heating conditions. They didn’t care about your sanitary. They didn’t care about any of that. You’re in jail. Good luck. Which meant that the only way for somebody to really survive in a Roman jail was that their family had to come alongside them and provide all of those things. Now, the problem is that Paul didn’t have any family in Rome and he didn’t have a lot of close Christian associates in Rome. And so Philippi is basically going, “Hey, we’ve gotta take care of this guy.” So they got together some money and Epaphroditus said, “I’ll lead the team. We’ll go and we’ll take it.” But somewhere along the way, Epaphroditus got sick. He fell ill.
Now, he could have turned around and gone home, but he decided not to. He decided to push on through the illness because he knew how much Paul needed his company. He knew how much he needed that encouragement that came from the presence of his family, his Christian family. So he pushed on, he got there, he delivered the financial gifts. He delivered some of the company and he got really sick at that point, almost died, Paul says. But at some point, God delivered him. And maybe it was a miraculous healing. Maybe it was over time, we don’t know.
But what’s happened too is that somehow or other, the people back in Philippi have heard that Epaphroditus got sick and so they’re worried. And so Paul says, “Okay, here’s what we’re to do. I’m gonna send Epaphroditus back and I’m also gonna send Timothy back.” And then what he does in this passage really is he’s kind of announcing his intention to send these guys. It’s he says a bunch of nice things about these guys, right? But he’s not saying nice things about them just to be nice. What he’s doing is, he’s technically, what he’s doing, he’s commending them to the Church at Philippi, which is to say that he’s recommending that the Church of Philippi pay attention to these guys. He’s recommending to the Church of Philippi, “Look to these guys and learn from them.” He’s recommending that the Church of Philippi look at these guys and imitate them. Because what Paul says is they’re valuable. They’re incredibly value… He has to introduce him because he says, “You may not know all that much about him, but you need to because they’re incredibly valuable.” Why is that?
There’s basically three things that he says here. Number one, he says they’re valuable because they kept the mission the main thing. They kept the mission the main thing. Do you see that? “Timothy,” he says, verse 21, “For everyone looks out for their own interests not those of Jesus Christ, but you know that Timothy has proved himself.” He’s proven himself in that he is looking out for the interest of Jesus Christ. And what is Jesus Christ’s interest? What did Jesus say? He said, “I came to seek and to save the…” What? “…the lost. I came to seek and to save the lost.” He said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor. The sick need the doctor and I’ve come to those who are sick. I’ve come those who are lost. I’ve come to bring light into those who are living in darkness. I’ve come to bring freedom to those who are living in captivity to sin.” That was Jesus’s mission.
And Timothy, he says he’s not looking out to his own interests. He’s looking out to the interests of Jesus Christ. That’s the mission, right? Timothy put the mission first. He made sure that the mission was the main thing. Epaphroditus, what does Paul call Epaphroditus? He says he’s my brother. We’re part of the same family in Christ, but also he says, this is verse 25, “He is my coworker.” He’s working to the same agenda. He’s working towards the same end. He’s working on the same mission. He’s my fellow soldier. He’s fighting back against those obstacles to advancing the Gospel, to extending God’s influence further and further into the world. Verse 30 says, “Because he, Epaphroditus, almost died for the work of Christ.” Right? That’s the mission. They’re keeping the mission the main thing.
Number two, they’re valuable because they worried about things that could take us off mission and not about what couldn’t. That’s where their minds went. They were worried about the things that could take God’s people off of mission. They weren’t worried about the things that had nothing to do with the mission. They weren’t mission critical. He says of Timothy, he says, verse 20, “I have no one else like him who will show genuine concern for your welfare.” It’s interesting, perfectly good translation. But a literal translation would be, he shows genuine anxiety for your welfare. It’s the literal word. It’s saying he’s anxious, he’s worried about, he’s concerned, he’s kind of tied up a knot, he’s really focused on your welfare.
Now, in modern English, we hear the word welfare and we think he’s really, he’s anxious about their well-being, but that’s not what welfare means. Welfare actually means well, in the old English, it means to travel well. It’s well, which means well. And then it’s fare, which means to travel. That’s why we pay cab fares. It’s a fee that we pay for traveling. Welfare, in the old English, literally means to travel well. And that’s a great translation because the idea there is he’s anxious about how well you’re traveling, how well you’re moving, how well you’re advancing the Gospel. He’s worried about things that could get in the way of you doing that, living on mission with Jesus. That’s what Timothy is anxious about.
And Epaphroditus, check this out, Epaphroditus, verse 26 says, “For he longs for all of you and he is distressed because you heard that he was ill.” He says he’s distressed. It was just a really powerful word in the original Greek. In fact, it’s the same word that was used to describe Jesus on the night before he went to the cross. Jesus on the night that he was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, knowing what was coming the next day, he’s described as being distressed, exactly the same word. In fact, he was so distressed, we know, that he began to sweat blood. Anybody ever been so anxious they sweated blood? Okay, then take whatever anxiety you’ve ever felt, take whatever stress you’ve got, take whatever things got you tied up in knots and then multiply that by about at least 100. That’s what this word means, which is a really strong word to use in this case.
He says Epaphroditus is all tied up in knots. Why? Because he heard that you were concerned that he was ill. Wait, what? Why would he be so upset about that? But here’s what’s happening. Epaphroditus is worried that they’re concerned for him is gonna take them off mission. He’s worried that all the time and energy they’re spending thinking about, “You know, is he okay? Is he gonna be fine? He’s gonna come back. Are we gonna see them?” They’re so worried about that. He says, “I’m worried that you’re so worried about me that you’re not worrying about advancing the Gospel there in Philippi. It’s taking you off mission.” He says, “I gotta go back so that I can prove to them I’m fine. We gotta get back to business.” They’re worried about that.
Interesting enough, Paul demonstrates exactly the same thing, right? He says this… He talks about sending Epaphroditus back. Verse 28, it says, “Therefore, I’m all the more eager to send him so that when you see him again, you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” Because Paul’s worried about exactly that same thing. He’s really grateful that Epaphroditus has come. He’s really grateful for all the support that he’s brought. He’s really grateful for the company. He feels better himself there in prison, but he’s like, “Yeah, it’s not about me. And I’m worried that they’re worried about you so much this gonna take them off mission. So Epaphroditus, you’re gonna have to go back so that I may have less anxiety.” Why these guys are so valuable because they worried about the things that could take us off mission and not about all the things that couldn’t all but the things that are not mission critical. That’s not big on their agenda.
Third thing is this, that they were willing to sacrifice to advance the mission. They were willing to make sacrifices to advance the mission. Timothy made a huge sacrifice. Notice the way Paul describes Timothy and his relationship. He says, “You know,” this is verse 22, “that Timothy has proved himself because as a son with his father,” as a son with his father, “he has served with me in the work of the Gospel ” That’s how Paul feels about Timothy, that they have that close of a relationship. It’s like a son with his father and Paul kind of is alone in prison there in Rome, and Timothy is one of his closest companions, one of his dearest friends and co-workers. But what does Paul say? He says he needs to go. He needs to go down and look into what’s going on at Philippi. Paul’s willing to make that sacrifice and Timothy is willing to make the sacrifice to go. Can you imagine if your father were in prison and alone? Can you imagine leaving him? But Timothy is willing to make that sacrifice in order to advance the Gospel in Philippi.
Epaphroditus, he says, verse 30, he says, “He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life.” By the way, this is kind of a side note. Paul’s funny, but he’s kind of nerd funny. You being…you know anybody like that, they like to make these jokes and your like, “That was a nerdy joke and I’m embarrassed that I got it. I did, but I’m not gonna laugh at it.” There’s a little joke happening here. Epaphroditus means beloved of Aphrodite, and Aphrodite was the goddess of gambling. And what Paul literally says here is if Epaphroditus gambled his life, and he supposed…I can imagine him going, “Anybody? Anybody?” And you’re like, “That is crazy geeky, right?” Yeah, it is. But even in the midst of that, Paul has a good sense of humor. Good, good sense of humor. It’s subtle.
This is Epaphroditus. This is Timothy and Paul. We see that they risked their lives to advance the Gospel. They risked their personal comfort to advance the Gospel. They risked their connections to advance the Gospel. They made sacrifices to advance the Gospel. And for this reason, Paul says honor people like Epaphroditus.
That make a good bracelet, I think. We got the WWJD, “What would Jesus do?” How about, “What would Epaphroditus do?” What we know he would do is this. Number one, he’d keep the mission, the main thing. Number two, he would worry about the things that could take us off mission and not about the things that couldn’t. And then number three, he would make sacrifices to advance the Gospel. And this is what makes Epaphroditus and Timothy, in Paul’s mind, Christian MVPs.
What do Christian MVPs do? They don’t necessarily have positions. They don’t necessarily have astounding gifts. They don’t necessarily write books or have amazing communication platforms or any of those kinds of things. Christian MVPs do three things.
Number one, Christian MVPs, keep the mission the main thing. Do you need a position to do that? You don’t. Do you need a particular spiritual gift to do that? You don’t? Do you need a particular experience or an education or a platform to do that? No, you don’t. Every one of us has the ability to do that in our own lives and spilling out from our lives into this thing that we call the Church. Christian MVPs keep the mission the main thing. We can all do that.
Number two, Christian MVPs worry about the things that can take us off mission and not about the things that can’t. The stuff that can’t take us off mission, that stuff is not mission critical. We go, “God, you handle that. I’m only gonna focus on things that could take me off mission.” The way I handle money could take me off mission because I can end up in so much debt that I really can’t live on mission with Jesus, so I’m gonna pay attention to that. But you know what? The kind of car I drive, the kind of house that I live in, whether or not I have that second vacation home or whatever, that’s not mission critical. And so God, that’s on your hands. I’m just gonna worry about the stuff that could take me off mission.
In the Church, we worry about the things that could take us off mission. We don’t worry about the things that don’t. You don’t need a position to do that. You don’t need a particular gift set to do that. You don’t need a particular set of skills. You don’t need a particular set of possessions or any of those kinds of things. Every single one of us can do that. We can worry about, focus on the things that could take us off mission and not about the things that don’t.
And then number three, Christian MVPs are willing to sacrifice to advance the mission. They’re willing to make sacrifices. They’re willing to make financial sacrifices. They’re willing to sacrifice time in order to advance the mission. They’re willing to sacrifice their personal agendas to advance the mission. They’re willing to put aside their personal preferences to advance the mission. And again, you don’t need a position to do that. You don’t need a particular set of gifts to do that. You don’t need any kind of possessions or education, any of that. You don’t need any of that to be able to make sacrifices to advance the mission. Which means…check me on this, this is really cool, if we think about it. It means that every one of us, every one of you can be a Christian MVP. So you can be an MVP.
I know this a little bit cheesy, but let’s just do this. I want to drive this in. Why don’t you look at the person next to them and to let them know. Say, “You can be an MVP.” Go ahead, online, you do it too. Then the other person should say it back to you because otherwise, it’s all lopsided. Like, did you get that? Do you understand how cool that is? Every one of us as followers of Jesus has the potential to be an MVP, a most valuable player. It’s not about how well our names get known. It’s not about the platforms we have. It’s not about the positions we hold. It’s about our willingness to do three things: keep the mission the main thing, worry about the things that can take us off the mission and not about the things that can’t, and number three, to make sacrifices, whatever they look like in our lives for the sake of advancing the Gospel.
So let me just ask you three questions. Question number one, where does advancing the Gospel fall on my this-matters-most list? Where does advancing the Gospel fall on your list of priorities? What you need to understand is that if it’s not at the very top, then you’re investing in something more than advancing the Gospel and whatever it is you’re advancing in, does not have the capability of transforming your circumstances, of bringing contentment in spite of your situation. If the Gospel is not at the top, then whatever it is that you’re investing in most is not bigger, in fact, than your circumstances. It can probably be derailed by your circumstances and it does not have the power to transform you and your experience of those circumstances. Only advancing the Gospel does. So where does advancing the Gospel fall on your list of this matters most. You need to wrestle with that.
Question number two is, what do I worry about and is it mission critical? What do you worry about? What occupies your time and your attention? What draws your focus to it? Is it mission critical? Does it have the ability to do either keep you on mission with Jesus or to take you off mission with Jesus? In which case, okay, pray about that. Change whatever you need to change in the light of that so that you can stay on mission. But honestly, if whatever it is that draws your time and your attention isn’t mission critical, then give that to God. “So God, I’d like, if it worked out this way, I’d prefer this, but you know what? That’s not most important. This is on you. I’ll give this to you. I trust you. You’re good.” I’m just gonna focus on those things that could take me off mission and I’m gonna focus on the things that the people around me, it could cause people around me to not be able to live on mission. That that’s where I’m gonna give my time and my energy. The other stuff, I’m gonna leave that to God.
And then question number three, what sacrifices am I willing to make? Or what sacrifices am I actually making or am willing to make in order to advance the Gospel? That’s the place that we really begin investing in the Gospel as the main thing. It’s when we make sacrifices to see it advanced. Can I tell you about a couple of my MVPs? Their names are Judy, Gina, Arlene, Dottie, Jerry, Anita. They’re my MVPs. Because just a couple of weeks ago, we were on one of our short-term mission trips in Alaska and they proved themselves Christian MVPs by doing all three of these things over and over and over again.
We were there to do a missionary conference. There’s a group that we work with called Arctic Barnabas Ministries. They’d brought in missionaries from all over Alaska in all these tiny villages throughout the tundra and around that huge, massive area of land. And for the most part, these are missionaries that they didn’t have a lot of contact with each other. Some of them very isolated. They’re off-the-road system. They’re three, four hours by plane from the nearest road. Once it starts snowing, they’re kind of snowed in, not a lot of communication. A lot of them are the only Christians in that particular village and often the villages are just overrun with alcoholism and drug abuse throughout the very long winter. It’s a difficult place to do ministry.
And so Arctic Barnabas is this conference where we get to give them some biblical teaching to encourage them and strengthen them. We get to do worship. They never get to sing together as a Body of Christ. And I got to do the teaching and Danny got to do the worship, but we were not the MVPs because it wasn’t just the missionaries who came. They brought their families and I don’t know what is in the water in Alaska, but the number of children these people have is insane.
Like, I mean, often they were like, “Well, there’s five kids,” or “There’s seven kids,” or “There’s three.” And like there were so many kids that like you thought like if they tried to put all those people in the conference with those little kids, like there would’ve been no teaching. The worship would have been a disaster because of these kids running around and going crazy. They haven’t seen each other in a year. And so, Judy and Dottie and Arlene and Jerry and Anita and Gina, they did kids ministry. They played with kids. They blew bubbles with them. And Jerry, who wasn’t even sure how he felt about little kids, was down in his hands and knees playing with these precious young things and blowing bubbles and letting them eat the bubbles. That’s a separate issue that we decided not to deal with. And changing diapers… And some of them are not what they called spring chickens, their language.
And they got to the point that even reaching down to pick up these kids to change diapers got hard. They’re like, I can tell they need the diapers, even from here, I can tell but I can’t go down there. And so, but if somebody will hand me the kid, then I’ll change the diaper. And that was sacrifice. And, you know, they didn’t focus on the things that they could’ve focused on. I had a cushy cabin. I did. I feel bad about it. Not bad enough to have gotten out of it, but I was there with Coletta, too. And so because we were a couple, they give us this really nice cabin, but a lot of the other ones they’re staying in, you know, they were decent rooms, but they had to leave the room and to walk a ways to get to the bathroom. And it was, it’s Alaska in October. It was rainy and it was gray and it’s cold. It’s starting to snow. But they didn’t focus on that. They focus on things they could take them off mission.
I remember one thing that really bothered my assistant Judy, who was there, is that Judy was really concerned because there was this mom who didn’t sit in the session. She kept coming in and checking because she’d never really left her baby before and she was so nervous that she couldn’t really go and enjoy that. And Judy was kind of all tied up a knot. She’s like, “She’s missing out on the opportunity to be in there. She’s missing out on the opportunity to be part of the worship and to hear from God’s Word because she’s so…” And that’s what Judy was anxious about, not about her living conditions. She was anxious about whether or not this woman was able to participate in something that would help her to be on mission. And that’s an MVP right there.
All of those precious men and women, in my book, they’re exactly what we see modeled here in this text. They are Christian MVPs. They put the mission first, they made the mission the main thing. They were worried about things that could take people off the mission and they were willing to make sacrifices in order to advance the Gospel. How about you? What sacrifices are you making or are willing to make in order to advance the Gospel? And there’s lots of different ways we can do that. You can give financially, obviously. And by the way, those of you who are making the sacrifice financially by giving to the work of the ministry here at Mission Hills, thank you for that. You hear a story every week about how God uses it to advance the Gospel.
I was able to share a couple of months ago that because of your generosity, we’re able to sponsor a church through Compassion International that’s gonna be launched in Peru. And we didn’t even need to take a special offering because your generosity has made it already possible. We have the funds to do it. We’re getting really close. We’re gonna be able to make an announcement here in the next month or so about exactly where that’s gonna be. That’s because of your sacrifice. Your sacrifice is advancing the Gospel. But maybe you’re not giving and maybe that’s what God calls you to is to begin giving more regularly. Maybe you’re not giving at all, in which case your step is to begin giving something. Maybe you’re giving something, but maybe your next step is to begin giving something… It’s a percentage maybe. Maybe it’s 2% or 3%. Or maybe you’re giving something percentage wise, maybe your next step to sacrifice is to begin giving a tithe of 10%. What’s your next step to advance the Gospel?
Or maybe it’s a time issue. So many of you sacrifice your time and your talent, your ability by serving as one of our serve teams. You know, we have a
Guest Services Serve Team. We have Worship Serve Teams, we have Student Ministries and Kids Ministry Serve Teams. We have an Outreach Serve Team. We’ve got the Life Center Serve Team. We all have these serve teams and so many people are advancing the Gospel by making sacrifices of their time and their talents, their abilities in order to do that and maybe that’s you in which case you are acting like an MVP.
Or maybe God is stirring you that I need to do that. I need to act more like an MVP. I need to make that sacrifice. I need to join one of those serve teams. You can find out about that online or the Next Steps Room or at the Guest Services here at the Littleton Campus. Or maybe since it’s Global Experience, maybe the sacrifice God’s calling you to is to be part of one of those short-term teams that we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. Short-term teams exist to go out and to work with our partners around the world. We have 40 partners around the world. And short-term teams exist to go and to help them advance the Gospel in their area. And maybe you’ve been part of that team. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe God’s stirring in your heart that that’s what it looks like for you to take a step of sacrificing for the Gospel.
I’m gonna ask Mauricio Carbone. Mauricio is our outreach pastor. He’s gonna come up and as we round out our Global Experience here over the last three weeks, he’s gonna tell you a little bit about those short-term trips. And as he tells you that, here’s what I want you to ask yourself. No, actually that’s not what I want you to do. Here’s what I want you to ask God. “God, is that a sacrifice you’re calling me to make?” Would you tell us a little bit about the short-term trips here?