This weekend we enjoyed the visit of Seth Wachtel from Sterling Park Baptist Church (SPBC) in the US.
Our church got to know the guys at SPBC through the Radstock Network sharing an interest in the work of the gospel in the Balkans. As the leaders met at conferences and occasionally emailed I don’t think any of us had a grand plan about where the friendship and shared concern would take us. Now almost 6 years on since my first visit to Virginia it’s exciting to look back and see the fruits of that relationship.
Let me just list some of the things that have happened…
- We’ve sent trainees to each other’s churches – providing a much broader and more thorough training for ministry.
- Long-term missionaries working in the Balkans, sent by SPBC, have been supported by Aigburth in prayer, finance, and a home-from-home when the opportunity to visit has come about.
- Short-term workers from Aigburth have been able to support the long-termers from SPBC. Providing holiday cover for teachers, childcare for workers, and extra pairs of hands.
- SPBC has given financially to support a church plant from Aigburth in Manchester.
- We’ve prayed regularly for each other’s churches, standing together in the tough seasons of life and ministry.
Many of the other benefits are harder to quantify, things like; speakers for weekends away, visits of church members, videos for prayer meetings, wisdom and advice in ministry etc. But what’s clear is that a generous desire to support one another has led to many good things in our churches and in the work of the gospel elsewhere.
And that’s how a network works. It’s not a transaction between a buyer and seller, or a poorer church seeking the financial backing of a richer one. Rather it’s a relational commitment to build trust and share work. That’s not going to happen overnight but looking back from where we are now we can see that the rewards of partnership have been much greater than the sum of our investment in it. Praise God.