In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul goes to great lengths to say, “Thank you for sharing with me”. He’s not offering a simple, “Thanks very much for the money”, he’s actually saying far more than that. In fact, the original Greek suggests that his meaning is something more like “Thank you for being part of fellowship through your gift”.
The fact that Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their relationship with him is a pretty big deal. Particularly when you consider that Paul isn’t writing this letter from his office, complete with leather chair and air conditioning. Paul is writing from prison. In a prison system that didn’t pay for prisoners’ food. So, if the prisoner couldn’t pay, they didn’t eat.
Yet, despite Paul’s dire situation, his main point of gratitude was clearly for the relationship demonstrated by the Philippian church’s gift… for their fellowship, their partnership.
Reading this passage in Philippians reminded me of Sharon’s story. As a very young mum in rural Kenya, her situation was also dire.
“I had a lot of hard times when I got married because I was not ready. I was married when I was seventeen years old. Because I immediately started giving birth at a tender age, we had very little for our family. I had very hard times as a young wife,” says Sharon.
Sharon has lived in poverty her whole life, but with the support of our Christian partner in the field, made possible by the generosity of people like you, Sharon was able to learn skills to grow her income and feed her family. And, similarly to Paul, we know Sharon is grateful for the practical assistance, but she is especially grateful for the relationship and partnership demonstrated by your generosity.
“I would say great thanks to the Lord for making the people in Australia have these plans which have improved our livelihoods,” says Sharon. “I can say it was a bright vision for us who lived a poor life and have now been improved to a better level. We are very grateful to them who have seen our problems”.
We sometimes feel when we support the work of an organisation like Baptist World Aid, that all we are doing is sending money. But whenever I visit program areas, my experience has been communities are most grateful for the wonderful fellowship and partnership created by your act of generosity.
So, in the same way that Paul saw the hope of God in the gifts that the church in Philippi gave, the hope of God is seen by mums like Sharon… when you give generously to the Matching Grant Appeal.