The following is a continuation in my Starting A Conversation, Missions series of articles and was written by a friend who gives a perspective of serving on the other side, the side of being a yokefellow. What exactly is a yokefellow and how is being one a blessing in missions? Read below!
The Blessings of Being a Yokefellow
Philippians 4:3 “And I
The term “yokefellow” shows up just once in the Bible. All we know is, whoever this fellow was that Paul is writing about, they were close, they were united in cause and they were putting forth an equal effort. The unidentified person is called a true yokefellow which indicates also that the relationship may have weathered some thick and thin. This term is often applied to a ministry where families at the home church working closely together with families on the foreign field. Along with the basic ministries and spiritual disciplines that every believer should have in his life, to be a yokefellow with a missionary family is a special blessing. It takes effort and comes at a cost, but a few of the blessings a true yokefellow can look forward to are as follows:
- Deeper involvement in foreign missions: Getting involved in missions is a simple as giving and praying. Foreign missions wouldn’t happen without those things. Becoming a yokefellow is asking for
a deeperinvolvement in a specific mission field and missionary family. It is a union of efforts to advance the Gospel ministry in the area where the missionary serves. It feeds a craving that the believer has for involvement in foreign missions,while serving in their own ministry at the home church. The yokefellow shares in the excitement of the success, and challenges of the setbacks that go along with mission work. In the yoke with the missionary, he is a co-laborer that brings all that God has packed into his life to aide in the work. In many cases, it will be the closest working relationship the missionary has and will give him the assurance that he is neither alone nor forgotten. The effectiveness of the missionary will in large part be determined by their ability to stay. Being a true yokefellow is a great way to make a meaningful impact on the stay-ability of the missionary, and with that, the long term outcome of the mission.
- Rewarding friendship: The best kind of friendships those that are genuine. Our missionary family serving in China are our friends. We reach out to check on them, but they reach out to check on us as well. They care about us, ask for help when they need it, speak honestly and keep confidential things confidential. After all, that’s what friends do. What a blessing it is to have good friends that live interesting and unusual lives. There is always a lot to talk about. My wife and I enjoy our fellowship with them and love being honorary uncles and aunts to their children. Everyone needs friendships that are genuine, not motivated by programs or private goals. The connecting implement that God chose to use as the analogy is a yoke. Joined at the neck is pretty close. Our closeness comes
becauseour friendship centers around our mutual interest, seeing people reached with the Gospel. Friendships are vital for Christians to challenge, encourage and comfort each other as we follow Christ together. Being a yokefellow opens the door of blessings that comesfrom a close and mutually beneficial Christian friendship.
- A special connection with an interesting culture: God made people and designed them to be different. In that difference is a world of interesting things. The stuff they eat, the ways they speak, the customs they have. There are many interesting things that can be learned by studying and understanding another culture. For the Christian who has not been outside of the U.S., a visit to see their missionary yokefellow on the field could be the first and most significant trip they ever make. It will certainly be life-altering. Having a connection with people living in another country is a great conversation starter that ultimately leads to Jesus. People want to know why our American friends would live such risky lives in China. You may find that people from the country where your missionary serves live close to you. You may even learn some of their languages. More conversation starters that lead to Jesus. Being a yokefellow gives you a special connection with interesting cultures and easy ways to share your testimony.
There are built in blessings for every step we take into a closer relationship with Jesus. One of the most meaningful relationships with other believers one can have is to be in the yoke with a specific missionary family. It feeds the craving every growing believer should have to be deeply involved in missions, brings a wonderful friendship and a special connection with an interesting culture. Its work for both sides of the relationship if it’s done well, but the blessings make it well worth the effort.
By John Pearson