The Bible tells a really cool (but short) story about a guy named Epaphroditus. He’s not as well-known as his friend, Paul, but he played a pretty big role in Paul’s life.
Paul was under house arrest in Rome, and the church in Philippi sent him a care package of gifts with Epaphroditus. (Philippians 4)
Our family isn’t under house arrest, and we don’t live in Rome, but we ARE far away from our church home back in Ohio, and someone (two someones) are heading our way soon (one week from today!!) with a care package from our church family.
Meet Chris & McKenzie. I don’t really have words for how special these two cuties are. We got to know them really well when we were in Community Group together a couple years ago.
Then they left to spend 5 months in India, lived in a different city in Ohio for awhile, and returned to Columbus a few months before we headed here to Cambodia.
I am blown away on a regular basis by the maturity of their faith and the depth of their generosity and love for the world. I can’t even tell you. They spend themselves constantly on behalf of the poor, the lost, the foreigner, the refugee, the regular-every-day person in need of Jesus.
And their praying. Holy cow to their praying. They have dedicated their home to being a House of Prayer, and they spend much much time talking to God there. Alone, with others, for others, with music, with Scripture, in silence. Praying praying praying. They know the power of prayer, and they draw on it like they draw breath.
On Sunday, June 14, Chris & McKenzie will touch down on Cambodian soil, and we’ll be waiting at the airport for them with smiles and squeals. They will be spending a week with us, then 2 weeks in Thailand with their dear friends who went with them to India.
In addition to supporting our family financially on a monthly basis, they are sacrificing precious time and their own hard-earned money to visit us and encourage us in our new far-away home.
We are so excited to show them Cambodia!!
Another dear friend asked me the other day if I really wanted her to keep saving for a trip to Cambodia or if I’d rather she just send us that money to use here (or to help us get back to the States for a visit sometime next year). We’re going to discuss it more (it’s something I think about often), but I’ll just say right now: you can’t put a price tag on someone flying to your new home to be an Epaphroditus.
It’s hard sometimes (and really hard other times) to live far away from all the people you’ve known and loved for so long. And don’t even get me started on soft green grass, Chipotle, spring weather, Cane’s, metro parks, and campfires.
When Paul finally sends Epaphroditus back home to Philippi (along with a big, juicy letter to them that became what we know as The Epistle to the Philippians), he says this to the Philippian church. And I’m jumping the gun, because Chris & McKenzie aren’t even here yet, but I want to say these same words to our Sanctuary Columbus Church family:
You [Sanctuarians] well know, and you can be sure [we’ll] never forget it, that when [we] first left [Columbus, Ohio], venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while [we were at Abbey Lane], you helped out—and not only once, but [many times]. Not that [we’re] looking for handouts, but [we] do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity.
18-20 And now [we] have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with [Chris and McKenzie] were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.
Thanks to our amazing friends, Pam & Britt, and their love & organizational skills, our Sanctuary peeps have donated so many things we “need” here in Cambodia. Trail mix, candy, flip-flops for big feet, underwear, personal items, games, books, snacks, encouraging cards, etc etc etc. We don’t have words for all the gratitude.
And we don’t get to hear from Epaphroditus himself in the Scriptures, but I’m assuming (and hoping) he received encouragement as well from spending time with Paul. (He also got really sick and almost died, but that won’t be happening with our friends. Prayers for health & safety welcomed and appreciated!)
We hope Chris & McKenzie leave Cambodia and head to Thailand (and Ohio) full of our love & kindness & laughs & encouragement.
And we just found out that our friends, Rich and Shalla, (Rich is our pastor at Sanctuary) will be coming to Epaphrodite us (tee hee) in August!! And Gabe’s mom is coming in July!! We kind of hit a little end-of-the-honeymoon-phase wall the past week or so, and these visits are perfectly timed to whoosh fresh wind in our sails.
We can’t wait!! (Be watching Instagram & Facebook for photos of our adventures with Chris & McKenzie. #C&Mbodia) (I have hashtags for Grandma Taviano’s visit too. #Mombodia #Grambodia. Just need something brilliant for Rich & Shalla, and we’ll be set.)