“If it (your Spiritual gift) is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8 (Emphasis added)
For the past thirty-five years, God has blessed our ministry with people who are great encouragers. Through their prayers, love, support, assistance, and financial gifts this ministry has made a global impact and is still radiating Christ’s love. We have no building to maintain or debt to serve or ministry platform left unmet. While our focus has been fixed, we have been flexible to address relevant cultural issues by providing timely biblically-based counsel.
Through the many years, Men’s Ministry Catalyst is constantly grateful for our faithful supporters and the hundreds of people who regularly pray for us. These silent partners are the ones who the Holy Spirit uses to help sustain this work. They are the ones who are my “balcony people or parachute packers” who encourage us and uplift our team during the tough times.
In some ministries, the “encouragers” are “forgotten heroes”. While the stage lights dawn brightly upon our keynote speakers, those who are our “partners in faith” are off-stage in the dark shadows and are rarely acknowledged. However, to this ministry they are the most important folks.
This story is a good example about the need for encouragers – parachute packers.
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down! ” How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.” Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory — he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for someone for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year – recognize people who pack your parachutes.
One Christian author put it this way, “Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of Heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men’s souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, “Come up higher,” may it be your happiness to hear Him say, ‘Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.’”
I’m able to continue to fight, the good fight, because I endeavor to stay close to God and I have people like you who are my parachute packers. I thank God for all those who help “pack my parachute.” I know that without their encouragement, prayers, and support I’m headed for a great fall. I recognize and appreciate the efforts and encouragement of so many people who share our passion for evangelism.
What does this verse say to you “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11?
Who is God leading you to help pack their parachute? Who needs your encouragement?
Jim E. Grassi, D. Min.