By on March 3, 2015   /   10 Comments


“One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” (Romans 1:10-12, NLT).

Recently, I was reminded of this amazing gift God gives us through visits with ministry partners. I drove from Colorado Springs to San Diego to see many people, including those at my home church. A highlight for me was the annual New Year’s “BBB” (Betty Barnett Brunch) with a group of long-term ministry partners and dear friends—those who have significantly partnered with me for decades through prayer and finances. Our fellowship and feasting together culminated in my describing highlights of the previous ministry year followed by rich prayer, providing substantial fuel for us as we enter the new year.

It is so helpful to have face-to-face time with those who have had significance in our life and ministry—one of the great joys of being partners with us. I returned home very tired after driving nearly 4,000 miles (NOT a vacation!), but so “full” of love, encouragement, and inspiration to keep on with what God has called me to. Without these dear people in my life, I would falter in God’s plans and purposes for me. In fact, the very first quote, written by one of my supporters, in my book Friend Raising—Building A Missionary Support Team That Lasts is: “I am carried on the shoulders of those who cannot see the landscape I describe. I owe them far more than my weight.” It couldn’t be said better than that!

Upon returning home, one ministry partner from San Diego wrote: “It was so good to see you again!…Great to spend quality time with you “eye-to-eye”…I think you know the power God gave you and your willingness to share and counsel those of us who are hurting is a great blessing…You are speaking God’s Word in a time of great turmoil. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

We must remember that our face-to-face time with ministry partners is not so much about what we can get from them, but rather what we can give to them. How we can be a blessing to them, listening, comforting, counseling, and, if the Lord equips us to, give a “word in season” to them. What a privilege for us. Having an attitude of “seeking first the Kingdom”, we are able to minister to them, their struggles, and give encouragement. As I continue in this lifestyle of support raising, I’m convinced that my visits have greatly strengthened my support team. I’m inspired by Paul’s words to the Romans expressing his longing to see them—not just write to them.

Before leaving on a “visiting” trip, it is crucial that I pray, asking God to order my trip, highlighting those with whom I should spend time. And then, day-by-day, as I submit my schedule to the Lord, I often see Him re-arrange my plans. I had a list of people I had hoped to see, but didn’t think I had time for. I sensed the Lord’s encouragement to phone several people, resulting in last-minute “divine appointments”.

It’s important for me to consider how each person is most comfortable in their relationship with me and how best to connect with them. Some greatly desire a close relationship—others may be awkward if it’s too personal. Some love to host us in their home while others prefer to meet for coffee. Some would rather just attend a group function where we share about our ministry.

Even a brief meal shared with ministry partners can have more impact than years of personal letters, “…I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead I hope to visit you and talk with you face-to-face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Our prayers with and for our friends have great significance, strengthening each of us, while potentially paving the way for them to be there for us in our time of need.

Visits also give us opportunities to serve, even briefly, in our home churches. It’s helpful to know our strengths and abilities, so we can offer to help, whether teaching Sunday-school classes, serving, preaching, or providing a listening ear. Serve as there is opportunity, not as the super-spiritual authority, but as a servant offering help.

You may feel restrained from visiting due to limited finances or pressing needs on the field. However, the priority of visits must be elevated. Our ability to serve long-term in ministry is directly linked to the health of our relationships back home. Ask the Lord to open a window of opportunity for you to make these trips. You’ll be glad you did!!

“…out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.” (1 Thess. 2:17)


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