Who is the first missionary recorded in the Bible?
When you read this question, a number of possible names might have popped into your head. Whatever name you thought of first, I think we can all agree that the person in the Bible best known for his missionary work was Paul. Unlike the Bible heroes who came before him, Paul traveled to many gentile nations and preached global repentance and worship of the One God who was no longer willing to give any nation a pass on idolatry (Acts 17:28-31).
During my childhood I spent many happy hours listening to the dramatized audio stories of Paul’s journeys produced by The Bible in Living Sound and Your Story Hour. As I absorbed these stories, I pictured Paul, Silas and Timothy happily hiking over Turkish hills or stoically sailing across stormy Mediterranean seas. Not once, however, did I think about how they financed those sea voyages or the many pairs of sandals they purchased to walk all those miles.
Now that I am part of AFM’s development team, the reality of Paul’s dependence on a faithful team of supporters has suddenly become real to me. One day as I was reading Philippians, verses that I had never noticed before jumped out at me. Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5). Partnership? What kind of partnership was this? Thankfully, Paul does not leave us in doubt. As he closes the letter, he thanks this church for their financial support (Phil. 4:16). Paul is so grateful for these gifts that he calls them, “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). If you read the whole letter to the church at Philippi, you will find that these gifts were not required but instead freely volunteered by this congregation.
Like Paul, AFM missionaries are taking the gospel to the unreached nations of the world. They, too, need a support team behind them cheering them on with prayers and words of affirmation. Also, like Paul, they depend on “acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Like that congregation in Philippi, AFM donors give these gifts from the overflow of joy in their hearts for what God has done for them. AFM makes this partnership easy by offering many different methods to support your favorite missionary or our organization as a whole. To join this partnership, visit our giving page at www.afmonline.org or call us at 1-800-937-4236.