A few weeks ago, I was drawn to this passage while doing some work around the cost of Sycamore Tree for a trust application. The trust I was approaching would only fund certain costs for the course and so I was calculating the portion they might be willing to provide.
As I was doing this, it struck me how each member of the PF Support Team plays a part in making Sycamore Tree happen. Some do so very directly, working specifically with our amazing volunteers and organising course logistics. Others work more indirectly, helping to process donations from supporters, sharing testimonies from the course and writing trust applications. Each plays their part in making Sycamore Tree happen and are all part of its continual success.
This is also true of all our volunteers and supporters. We have some people volunteer as Sycamore Tree tutors, group facilitators or victims of crime who go into prison and run the courses. But that would not be able to happen without the generosity of our supporters who contribute financially to the course and everyone who prays for the learners and all those involved. Even people who are having conversations with friends and family about Sycamore Tree or liking a story on social media are part of the incredible work God is doing through the course!
This is a perfect picture of the unity we read about in Ephesians. The passage talks about each part doing its own work. If we all tried to do the same thing, Sycamore Tree would never happen. We all contribute in our own God-given ways and – together – we grow and are built up in love.
We are all given a particular capacity for ministry. This is sometimes called a ‘spiritual gift.’ It may not feel very spiritual to send out a Sycamore Tree pack or to ‘like’ a social media post – but the outcome is spiritual benefit to the body of Christ. Our spiritual gifts are not contradictory to unity, they are complimentary to it.
I like how Calvin phrases the well-known passage about the body in 1 Corinthians 12: “No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities.”
I would go one step further and say that, far from undermining the fundamental unity existing between individuals, the diversity of spiritual gifts enhances – even necessitates – unity.
When we join together, each with our own spiritual gifts and ministries to contribute, we are all able to experience the joy of being able to see God at work. When Jesus turned the water into wine, it was only those who were involved by filling the water pots who knew what He had done. When we join together, we get to see what God is doing in the lives of people in prison – what an honour!
I am so grateful for the fellowship we have at Prison Fellowship. It is a great privilege to work with so many amazing people, all contributing their own gifts, towards the same goal.
Andy Prescott is PF’s Head of Fundraising and Communications.
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