I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6
One of the concepts that God has continued to humble me with through my missions experience is the importance of unity in the body of Christ. I’m ashamed to say that in my first experience in missions many years ago, I didn’t have that humility to work with others. I thought I was right and the others were wrong and if they weren’t going to do things my way, then I wasn’t going to participate. There were so many better ways to handle the situation but in my immaturity and selfishness, I didn’t want to see them.
But over the years serving in the church and on missions, God has gently brought me to realize how true the Scriptures are when they say in 1 Corinthians: “But God has so composed the body… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” Every organization, church and individual has a role to play in the body of Christ and this dependence on one another is made all the more evident in Japan. I have seen how divisions in the body of Christ have hindered the gospel and I have seen how teamwork in the body of Christ has made what seemed impossible possible.
Though Paul and Apollos undoubtedly had some differences of opinion in their ministries, both were fervent evangelists of the gospel. It’s quite possible that the two men never met face-to-face in their lifetimes, yet Paul stresses in 1 Corinthians that he and Apollos were teammates, co-laborers in the gospel.
This past week at Equipper Conference, the Lord provide countless divine appointments with people who could act as my teammates for the gospel in Japan. I was offered introductions to influential ministry partners, potential ministry work, prayer support and every sort of help and advice I could imagine. Having never set foot in Higashi-kurume, the town we will be living in, I can now arrive there confident there will already be a number of people ready to help us settle into life and ministry there. Organization and denomination affiliations were non-factors in the talks; it was only about bringing the good news of Jesus to the Japanese.
The task of bringing hope and life to the people of Japan looms large, but I am confident that God is preparing a huge team of his people to do His Kingdom work in Japan, transcending all barriers of nationality, denomination, and organizational affiliations. I have seen it with my own eyes.