“For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well” (3 John 3-6 NKJV).
As I prepare to return to South Asia to work with churches and evangelize, I am in almost continuous communication with local brothers who are helping prepare for the work we will do.
Because of my dependence upon such assistance, I have learned over the years to appreciate the Apostle John’s letter to his good friend Gaius. Though the exact circumstances prompting this letter are not given to us, it is likely that John is complimenting Gaius’ treatment of visiting preachers (in contrast to Diotrephes’ refusal to accept them, see verses 9-10).
He is also informing Gaius that a preacher named Demetrius is on his way to Gaius’ home area, or perhaps is bearing this letter as his introduction and recommendation. He requests Gaius to ensure a proper welcome for him.
In this rather difficult situation John had a tremendous asset — a dependable brother on which to rely. Gaius was faithful, walking always in truth. Few persons are given higher compliments in Scripture. Few qualities are more essential to the spread of the gospel and growth of the church than those which John attributes to him.
When missionaries travel to distant lands, preaching, baptizing, and establishing congregations, they are frequently dependent upon someone who will be permanently on the scene to ensure continuity of the church. The missionary often cannot stay beyond a certain time. His return visits may be brief and only occasional. That is the nature of his work.
Faithful local Christians, committed to truth, ensure the ongoing success of the Lord’s work. The missionary’s work is important. He may present deeper lessons, promoting greater spiritual growth than is available otherwise. His efforts and skills may stimulate faster and greater numeric growth.
But without the cooperation of local workers on whom he can depend, he can do little towards long term stability. Thank God for all the many brothers and sisters like Gaius who receive and assist gospel preachers, evangelists and missionaries. They bring great joy to all whom they help.