An Epaphroditus among us

City Church member Brianne Baudean spent the last month helping the Thompson family (of Northside Church of Richmond) adjust to their new life in Rwanda. On the night before Brianne's return to Richmond, Adrianne Thompson shared some thoughts on their blog about Brianne's time with them. Adrianne gave us permission to re-post a message written just for City Church right here. We hope it brings you the same encouragement it brought us.

Dear City Church and friends of Brianne:

Thank you, also, for generously sharing Brianne with us for the past month. The Scripture describes these kinds of visits and help sometimes. Here's one: "I hope in the LORD to send Timothy to you soon, that I may also be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me...But I think it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for you all..." (from Philippians 2.)

Anyway! I feel confident although sad in sending Brianne back to you. She's kind of a combination of how Paul describes Timothy and Epaphroditus there. My confidence in Richmond being the place for her right now is there because her aches and prayers and joy and sadness for you all and your stories did not wane AT ALL while she was away. When you rejoiced in something she was with you. And when you were sad, she was. She served us and served folks in this community (both expats and locals) very well. She was present here. She held little ones who cannot walk or talk who are older than my children. She danced in the home of a dear woman/friend who makes $100 a month working remarkably hard 8-5 every day. But she came home and even throughout the day she prayed for you and your burdens too. She smiled for you and your exciting news. She isn't coming home with a judgmental or haughty spirit (which is incompatible with God's spirit) having served in and traveled to such a "radical" place. Her heart for the physically poor, the orphaned ones, the neglected ones has surely grown, but not in a way that made her concern for other people (equally made in God's image) but with other adjectives before their names ("wealthy", "lonely", "feeling rejected", "American") seem less significant or less valuable in any way. The LORD is giving her spiritual eyes and wisdom.

The real Holy Spirit is obviously at work in you all. When asked what she was most excited about in coming to be in Rwanda this summer--in a time in the States when "justice" "care for orphans and widows" and similar heartbeats of God are very (pardon my crudeness) "sexy" to be connected to (and legitimate and important obviously too)--she said "actually I've never really dreamed of going to Africa. I'm just excited to serve your family." She learned that somewhere people, and it wasn't us. and it was reinforced somewhere. and prayed for by people. She learned never to elevate someone over someone but to know all are broken and all are beautiful. all have dignity and are worth serving and laying your life down for. and she'll follow and serve whomever He leads her to, wherever he has prepared works for her in advance to do, whether that carries accolades and attention with it or not. I pray that kind of real gospel work will continue among you and that that truth will sink deeper and deeper into her and you. I pray that you'll cheer for each other as you serve each other and the world in many important varied ways. she's been a gift to us, but she's coming back to serve and love people there. We are so thankful you sent her with us. She's missed you dearly.

You can read the entire post here--and please continue to keep the Thompson family in your prayers.