“When you join a mission like ours it is like joining a family,” Paul Lindell wrote in March of 1951. He was writing to a missionary inquirer, describing one of the core values of the World Mission Prayer League.
“There are many things which have to be done in family life,” Paul wrote, “and sometimes it is well to take turns at doing them. We do this at our home here in Minneapolis. We take turns at dishes, washing floors, repair work, firing the furnace, shoveling snow, and many other things, including taking charge of meetings and carrying on the administrative tasks. Some can do some things better than others. But we take it on as a family and all pitch in as best we can because the work must be done.”
Our Handbook underscores this theme: “As a prayer and missionary fellowship, and as members one of another, all seek to share what they have and bear one another’s burdens in faithful prayer before the throne of Grace” (¶ 40).
I will be frank with you: life and work together is not easy. We are not always good at it. Too often, we grate on one another’s nerves. We step on one another’s toes. Sometimes, I will admit, the snow is not shoveled with perfect egalitarian spirit. But we are committed to community nevertheless. We are committed to ministry together.
- Our Lord commands it. “Love one another,” he commanded (John 13:34). “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). In fact, Jesus does far more than command. He gives community. He creates the Body by his grace. We are a community by his command-and by his wonderful mercy.
- The world demands it. The world about us is atomized into a billion fragmented pieces. It is a painful, broken scandal. But the Kingdom of Jesus represents a radical alternative. In the Body of Jesus we are no longer “atoms.” We are members of one another. In Christ we are the same family-a belonging and a community that the world desperately needs. “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples” (John 13:35, Peterson).
- The mission itself urgently requires it. We need each other. The “foot” collaborates with the “hand”; the “eye” serves together with the “ear”-under gracious direction of Christ the “head” (1 Corinthians 12:12ff.). If we are serious about mission, we cannot go it alone.
The writer to the Hebrews helps us get practical. “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out” (Hebrews 10:24, Peterson).