23 January 2020

Hello and welcome back to another day’s podcast. It’s Thursday and I am coming to the end of my time with you. Next week Helen will take over and I am really looking forward to hearing what she has to say.

Today’s reading is Philippians 2:25-30, in this passage we meet Epaphroditus, a co-worker alongside Paul. This is what Paul says of him in verses 29-30. This is from the Message version of the bible.

Give [Epaphroditus] a grand welcome, a joyful embrace! People like him deserve the best you can give. Remember the ministry to me that you started but weren’t able to complete? Well, in the process of finishing up that work, he put his life on the line and nearly died doing it.


To get us thinking I want to ask, who are your heroes in the faith? Do you have any?

Maybe it is William Wilberforce who helped abolish the slave trade, maybe its Martin Luther King Jr. who was the figure head, the leader of the civil rights movement in America, or Joni Erickson Tada who overcame disability, Mother Teresa anyone? Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I wonder, who is your hero of faith?

It is easy to think about the giants of faith. Those who down the years history has recorded their stories, their awesome deeds, the changes in society they helped to bring about, the thousands of lives they touched… and to feel a little deficient somehow.

But in the middle of a passage of scripture an unfamiliar name crops up. We’ve not had it before, we may not see it again. A name like Epaphroditus. He is only mentioned in all of the Bible in this letter. And all this letter tells us about him is that he was sent from Philippi to Rome with a gift from the church to help Paul in his work. He stayed with Paul, got seriously ill and almost died. When he recovered Paul sent him home, back to Philippi and that’s it. It doesn’t amount to much of a CV. He’s barely worthy of a mention and yet there he is. His story is recorded in the word of God.

Much of the story of the Bible after Jesus is about Paul, he is a giant of faith. He toured the middle east and established Christian communities wherever he went. He was awesome, God used him powerfully. He was a man of action and a man of words. His letters, written to the churches he planted, form most of the rest of the New Testament after the stories of Jesus and the growth of the early church. But who is Paul, without the courageous men and women who said yes to the Gospel, received Jesus, who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Who built on the foundations that Paul had laid. Who suffered for their faith, who gave to the mission, who raised their children in the way, risking their safety for the sake of the kingdom?

Who is Martin Luther King Jr. without the crowds of courageous, subjugated African-Americans who rallied to his call, who occupied government buildings, who refused to meet violence with violence, who went to prison, who were beaten for the cause?

Who is Mother Teresa without the army of nuns, the missionaries of charity who joined her in her care of the sick and dying in India?

It is great to read the stories of the giants of faith and be inspired. It is also good to remember the little people of faith, those whose names, history won’t remember, who’s deeds won’t be be recorded for those who come next.

Here at Crookes we are surrounded by heroes of faith, who quietly, faithfully go about their lives without praise or reward, seemingly unnoticed but encouraging and inspiring others through their faith.

So alongside Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we might also list the young mother who works in a male dominated environment who faithfully witnesses to her colleagues, day in, day out. Or the family who have fostered loads of kids, giving them the best possible start in life, or the retired couple who bought a second house and gave it to a charity to house failed asylum seekers. Or maybe it’s the pensioner who faithfully witnesses to her neighbours. Or the woman who, well into her 90’s still actively shares her faith. Maybe it’s the retired gentleman who is in the early stages of dementia, who continues to take every opportunity to serve, who gives lifts, provides transport so others can access community. Maybe it’s the couple who have personally seen scores of internationals come to faith, under the radar, without fanfare. Or the young adults who give up their weekends to disciple our kids and youth. Or the guy with young family who chooses to serve on the balcony.

God raises up leaders, movers and shakers… they are few and far between. He also raises up an army of ordinary men and women who he calls to love the one in front of them, to serve their neighbours, to care for those who are hurting. Who go the extra mile.

Church, you are amazing. Never give up doing good, never allow discouragement and struggle to get in the way of the call God has placed on your lives. Never take your eyes from our master, keep focused on him. He will give you strength. He will wipe away your tears. He will provide for you, he will give you wisdom, he will provide the resources.

People like Epaphroditus deserve the best you can give.

Let’s encourage one another, lets spur each other on in love and good deeds…


Father, thank you for the heroes of faith. Thank you for those whose lives have touched millions, whose stories inspire the next generation. And father, I thank you for the other heroes of the faith, the millions who, day by day keep on loving those they meet without recognition, without reward. Give us strength father, help us today. Amen

BIBLE READING: Philippians 2:25-30

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.