In his letter to the Philippians – a favourite Scripture of mine – Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting trial. This was surely terrible news for the church. How would they cope in the face of opposition and persecution?
Paul saw things differently.
Even though he was a prisoner, Paul was able to write to the believers in Philippi and share how it had been an opportunity ‘to advance the gospel’. In fact, the whole palace guard had come to hear God’s word through Paul’s imprisonment Philippians 1.13.
And, Paul was confident that God would continue to meet the Philippians needs ‘according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4.19).
This passage reminds me of my work at Bible Society when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit last year.
It was tough for us in the UK. Like many of us I missed meeting my friends and work colleagues, felt isolated at home and I especially missed my beloved grandchildren.
Then I received messages like this one from a dear Bible Society colleague in Africa:
Bible ministry here has always been tough, because of poverty and the threat from Islamist extremists. But now we are dealing with the coronavirus too. Hundreds have died already – and with poor infrastructure and limited healthcare, Covid-19 could be devastating.
Yet he also said, ‘We don’t forget that God is in control.’
Like Paul, they faced the toughest of situations but continued to put their faith and trust in God in a way that was inspirational and deeply moving.
And, as we are ‘partners in the gospel’ (Philippians 1.6), I was led to raise funds in support of my dear brothers and sisters so that their Bible ministries and projects would survive and prosper even in the worst days of the pandemic.
18 months later, things are still really hard across the world but praise God, he’s answered our prayers and my colleagues have been able to continue to make the Bible available to communities longing for the faith and hope that comes from God’s word.
Thank you for the support that you have given to the ministries of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa.