Do you ask your personal friends for financial help?
The apostle Paul had an unusual situation, but the way he handled it can give us some insights for getting support for our own ministries today.
Paul had led Philemon and his family to faith in Christ on one of his stops in his missionary journeys. Philemon was a well-to-do man with a large household, including slaves and servants. One of his slaves ran away to Rome, where Paul was waiting a long time in prison for his case to be concluded. Onesimus, the slave, must have admired Paul when he preached in his master's house. So he sought Paul out.
Paul counseled and led this young man to faith in Christ too, and Onesimus quickly became very useful to Paul. But Paul was not about to take advantage of his friend, so he persuaded the runaway to go back and take his personal letter to Philemon with him.
It is this short letter that gives us so many details of the story. Paul greets his friend Philemon heartily and praises God for how he has blessed himself and many other believers and Christian workers with his hospitality and encouragement.
Now he asks Philemon to show that same kind of hospitality and encouragement to Onesimus, whom he is sending back, a changed young man. Paul asks Philemon to treat Onesimus just as he would if Paul himself showed up at the door.
Paul explained that Onesimus was now a very useful slave, but he didn't want to just claim and use him without Philemon's consent, as that would just not be right. Based on their own close partnership as friends, Paul asks Philemon to treat this slave as a Christian brother - or, as if he were Paul himself.
Despite being in prison, Paul has hopes of being able to travel again, and asks his good friend to prepare a guest room for when he will be able to visit again personally. See, you can ask your personal friends for favours.
We do not know what Philemon's response was, or if they ever got see each other again this side of Heaven, but judging from the tone and Paul's message in the letter, we can assume with some certainty, that Paul's requests were granted.
You may be thinking that you can't ask your personal friends, as you have none as rich as Philemon, or you might try writing them a letter too.
Pause to think -- it would be just like God to place people like Philemon into your circle of acquaintances, but have you taken time to develop a friendship with them? Do you make a point of keeping in touch with the friends you have so that it can grow to the point where you can write and ask favours and know your letters will be well-received?
I have been learning over the last couple of years that these days, on the internet, is a new marketing philosophy. In fact, it has probably always existed, but now it has a name, Attraction Marketing, and there are a number of flourishing methods being taught and passed on to others online in relation to this. Many testimonials are coming forth so that it is a common expression now, "People don't do business with strangers; they buy from those they have learned to know, like and trust."So building up relationships through social media and sharing valuable information, etc., is the way to do business.
There is a transferable principle in that. Your best supporters in your ministry will be those who have learned to know, like and trust you. So it behoves those of us in ministries to show ourselves friendly, to work at building relationships of trust and respect. It is among these contacts that God will raise up "friends" willing to support our works for the Lord.
Yes, make time to keep in touch with the friends you have, and any others that come your way. Develop a mailing list and write to these friends as personalized and frequently as you can, to let them know what God is doing in your life, and how you are serving Him. Not all of them will become ardent supporters, but some will become close enough so that you can freely ask your personal friends for support.
If you want to learn more from the business model of Attraction Marketing, I can recommend a community of such people where there is much taught by video from those who have proven it to work. You can attend the Wednesday evening webinars. These are free sessions by video at which you can learn many things.
You can learn much more by joining the community. There is a monthly membership fee. However if you stay through the introductory video and wait a bit, Brian will offer you a 10 day trial for just $10. I did, and it has had profound influence on my life online. But you can learn a great deal by attending the free Wednesday webinars. Besides, once you have attended one and heard and seen a great testimonial, you will get email invitations for the next one next week, and this can continue indefinitely.
Of course, if you can at all afford the trial membership, at $10 for 10 days, you should jump at that as then you can explore the membership area and discover many courses and helps if you are at all interested in learning how to do "Attraction Marketing."
Let me know your thoughts and questions on giving in response to these articles.
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