Tons of Mail!July 10, 2017
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
— Ephesians 4:16
When our television ministry first began in the former Soviet Union, Denise and I thought it was appropriate to encourage people who watched our TV programs to write to us and tell us about their prayer needs. And we promised that our team would personally read each letter and that we would personally write them back.
But we simply had no idea of the mountains of mail that would come so quickly into our office from every far-flung corner of the USSR. Before we could hardly catch our breath, we had 800,000 unread letters packed in boxes stacked on top of more boxes. An entire large room in our office was filled from floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes of unread mail that desperately needed to be read and answered, as promised. The fact is, we were overwhelmed by the response. Worse yet, our staff was so small that as hard as they worked to get through this mail, we simply had neither staff nor equipment to answer such huge numbers of letters in an expeditious manner. We only had a handful of computers for data entry, so these 800,000 letters would have to be answered by hand!
As noted above, I had made a promise on TV that if people wrote, we would read each letter and answer them. But how were we going to keep that promise with the mail growing by boxes each day? Then someone on staff suggested that we schedule a number of all-night weekend “mail parties” — working all night long and simultaneously celebrating this great breakthrough of reaching so many thousands of TV viewers.
It really was worth throwing a party because we were seeing a miracle before our eyes with each new huge box of mail that was carried into the office. People from all over that part of the world were responding to my invitation to write. So having a “party” to celebrate this miracle — and combining it with a team effort to catch up — seemed like a fun and great idea. We reasoned that if we put our whole effort into it, perhaps we could catch up on the mail!
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
A series of weekends were chosen, and everyone who served in any capacity on the team — workers in the mail department, TV producers, secretaries, guards, drivers — participated in multiple all-night mail-party events. One group of people would open the letters, put data into the computers, and pass the letters on to readers, who read and answered each letter by hand. Once the letters were answered, they were passed on to a group who stuffed envelopes, licked stamps, and sealed the letter. Finally, the last group organized the thousands of letters into batches addressed to each country of destination in order to fulfill the obligations of our local Soviet-style post office.
It took nearly one month to do it, but by being committed — and by every person doing his part joyfully — we were able to supernaturally answer all that mail and catch up with the new incoming mail. Not only that, but afterward God enabled us to purchase additional computers so we would never have to answer mail by hand again.
This series of mail parties was one of the biggest catch-up operations I’ve ever witnessed! And throughout each overnight marathon, I encouraged the team from Ephesians 4:16 — a very powerful verse about team participation and supernatural energy to get a job done. It says that “…the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
We can’t examine every part of this verse today, but I want you to especially notice the central section of this verse, where it talks about the whole body being “…fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.…”
What a picture of teamwork! That’s why I chose to use it to encourage our team as we dove into that mountain of mail back in those early days.
The phrase “being fitly joined together” is a translation of the Greek word sunarmologeo, a word with three parts. The first part of the word is sun, which denotes cooperation and partnership. It pictures something that is done in conjunction with someone else.
The second part of the word, armos, is a medical term for a physical joint in the human body. The last part of the word is logos, which in this case means to frame or to specify. When compounded, the new word depicts a joint that works in conjunction with another specified joint. In other words, these two joints are made to function with each other — and when they do so correctly, the results are extraordinary.
The word “compacted” is sumbibadzo, a word that describes the sinews and ligaments that hold all the joints together and cause them to function as a single unit. These sinews and ligaments are essential to keep all the joints held securely in their places to do their proper job of providing motion and mobility.
The words “every joint” are a poor translation from the Greek word aphe. It should be translation “every part.” It describes every individual part of the body. This tells us that every part — that is, every member of the Body of Christ — has a specific place where he or she is to be joined and to work in cooperation with other parts of the Body. Every single member, every part, of the Body of Christ is to work in cooperation with its other parts. This describes a team experience.
Furthermore, when each part is in its proper place, functioning with the other parts it is called to work with, it begins to “supply.” The word “supply” is epichoregeo, a word that describes a lavish provision of what is needed. (For more on the origins of the word epichoregeo, see the January 2 Gem in Sparkling Gems 1.) The use of the word epichoregeo in this context tells us that when every member of the Body of Christ is properly connected to other members and working correctly, a supernatural, lavish supply of divine energy is activated to fully accomplish the purposes of God. That is why Paul went on to say, “according to the effectual working of every part.…”
The words “effectual working” of “every part” underscores everything we’ve already seen above. The words “effectual working” are a translation of the word energeia, where we get the word energy, and in this context, it refers to divine energy. It is the supernatural ability to get something done. The phrase “every part” is en metro, meaning in measure. This means that every person has his part, his measure, or his contribution. And when every part or every member is in his place, a release of divine energy takes place that results in a supernatural ability to get a job done!
It also tells us that no single member can do everything on his own. He can only do his part in measure alongside the other members to whom he is joined. But when every person is joined and doing the full measure of what he can do, it results in divine ability being released in the Body of Christ.
I used this verse to encourage our team because we all needed to get in our places, connected by sinews and ligaments — by commitment — and do the part that was assigned to us. If we would do this, I knew that it would cause a release of supernatural energy that would enable us to quickly do what normally would have taken many months to do. Because my team operated in full cooperation, we looked at those boxes and boxes and piles and piles of mail with joy. Team members got into their respective places and stayed there to do what they were assigned to do. As a result, the task was accomplished in minimal time, and we kept our promise to personally answer each letter!
Those letters from Soviet TV viewers were so precious to me that I never allowed them to be disposed of until recently — when I realized that we had a whole warehouse that was filled with tons of old mail from those earlier days. Each letter represented a precious soul, and it was so hard for me to let them go. When we finally did decide to dispose of them, after many years, it was all together more than 100 tons of mail that we shredded and burned. And to be honest, I kept several boxes as precious memories of a notable moment in the history of our ministry.
What type of task do you have in front of you today that can only be accomplished if a team comes together to make it happen? Do you find yourself, as I did, with something that grew more quickly than you anticipated and has nearly overwhelmed you? Whom has God called to join with you through deep commitment? I assure you that if you find a team who will accept the challenge and who will cooperate together, it will release the divine energy of the Holy Spirit — and He will supernaturally supply whatever you need to get the job done!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You that You have placed me in my right place in the Body of Christ so every part can work effectually. I thank You, Father, that I am not alone to do the things You’ve asked me to do and that You have set each one of us in the Body as it pleases You for the fulfillment of Your plan and Your purposes. Although I may see certain projects that You have assigned me to fulfill, my primary function may be to join myself to another person’s assignment in order to see it achieved victoriously. Regardless of whether it is my assignment or a project someone else is called to lead by Your direction, I yield myself to You and ask You to reveal to me my function according to Your design and where I fit for the purpose of Your plan. I ask You to equip me by Your grace to maintain the commitment to stay there, to provide all the mobility and support I can to make the project move forward, and to see a supernatural release of the Holy Spirit’s energy to accomplish what I could never do on my own!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that the Holy Spirit is clearly and regularly speaking to my heart, showing me where I am to fit and how I am to function in the Body of Christ. Regardless of how much I may want to function on my own, I realize that God has not asked me to do it all by myself. I am equipped according to the measure that has been assigned to me. I declare that I know where I fit, that I know how to function there, that I am committed to the task, and that the Spirit of God supernaturally and lavishly releases His divine power to enable all involved with the assignment to each do their part in moving forward to accomplish His will together for His glory!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you know where you are supposed to be connected in the Body of Christ and how you are to function in that place?
- Have you ever experienced genuine, Spirit-led teamwork that draws its strength from the Holy Spirit and releases His divine energy to get things done in a supernatural manner?
- When did you experience that? Are you working as part of such a team right now? Describe the qualities of the team you have worked with or are working with now that helped produce supernatural results.