No man, even Paul, is an island. He needed friends and their faithful support, he required faithful messengers with whom he could entrust his messages. Think back over the recent centuries and remind yourself that John Wesley, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and so on all had an organisation built around them. Yes, these were special characters and what they did was something special and lasting, but they could not have done it anywhere near as well, or perhaps not at all, without the support and work of others. There is definitely a place in spreading the news of God's Kingdom for administrators, treasurers, architects, tech people (especially now!), gardeners, those with practical skills, those gifted at teaching children and teenagers and so on. Two such men Paul commended here were Timothy, who we can learn more about in the book of Acts and the two eponymous letters; and Epaphroditus, who had almost given his life for the cause. We all develop and grow as people, hopefully, and Paul clearly did. It may have been during this time of house arrest when he had plenty of time to reflect that he understood more fully just what the faithful men and women around him had done. Not only had they blessed Paul in his ministry, but they had become his friends. Timothy, Paul saw as his son, and in the last chapter of Romans we read about Phoebe, his sister, Ampliatus, his dear friend 'in the Lord', and the mother of Rufus, who was like a mother to Paul. The Christian faith is built on human relationships as well as the forming of relationship between man/woman and God. I have now had the blessing of over six years at Bearfield and there are many people within the fellowship with whom I am deeply grateful and I know I couldn't have done things without them, not just from a practical energy/ time level, but from the boost of knowing those people are there. One thing I feel I struggle with in this current lockdown state is that I used to take such heart from standing in front of the gathered congregation on a Sunday morning and feeling myself surrounded by those who loved me and I could feel confident of their support and working behind the scenes. REMEMBER: NO MAN/WOMAN IS AN ISLAND!
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