There is a very important history and spirit in the Bible related to ARMOR-BEARERS. In Bible times armor-bearers were aides chosen by kings of high-ranking military commander for their bravery and loyalty, and actually carried the shield and armor of his leader as they went into battle! It would be similar to the Air Force
Aide de Camp, or a general’s executive. Further insight comes from the meaning of the Hebrew word, which are actually two words, “to lift up; to support; to bear up; to carry” along with “to end, complete, finish."I think my favorite would have to be Jonathan and his armor-bearer in (1Sam.14:1-7). Jonathan had a “somebody’s got to do something” attitude concerning the enemy, the Philistines. Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few." And his armor-bearer said to him, "Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” Which is a tremendous spirit of faith all the way around. It’s obvious that Jonathan’s confidence was not in his brilliantly devised military tactics, but in God’s power to help with many or with just a few. I love his armor-bearers response, “I’m game. Whatever is in your heart, I’ve got your back!” (a HSW rough translation) The result of this bold move was a significant victory that day that brought about the rallying of God’s people.
Today, an armor-bearer is not an actual position to find in the Classifieds or on Craig’s List, as it is a spirit or mindset or attitude a person has. It does, however, still have much to teach us. It teaches us that victory in the spiritual realm is a team effort, made up of covenant-minded people. Reality is we all have out pluses and minuses that answer to each other. We all have blind spots that are only overcome with the help of others, by an armor-bearer. The lowest point spiritually in Israel’s history (Jdgs 17:6) is where it says “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” We call it today, “doing your own thing....being faithful to your own truth.” The Living Bible puts it, “In those days Israel had no king, so everyone did whatever he wanted to–whatever seemed right in his own eyes.” Radical individualism that places the priority of self-interest over the common good is a sure formula for decline.
This brings me to the purpose of the blog posting: it is my tribute to Freddy & Mary Lou Gonzalez who have served as our Ministers of Pastoral Care since 2000. Our policy has always been to “send our best” when responding to the Holy Spirit when He says “Separate to Me ____ for the work to which I’ve called them.” In our June Conference of 2010, Freddy and Mary Lou were announced to go to pioneer a church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Because his paperwork and visa didn't come until May, we decided to keep them with us until after the June Conference, and then his customary “farewell tour” for him and the rest of the family. I was able to personally pray and lay hands on them last Sunday (1Tim.5:22), and then, yesterday, Freddy preached his farewell service, an excellent message followed by a nice fellowship. Today, they boarded the plane for their flight to Buenos Aires, which means “Game On!” I just want to make it known they he has served our congregation with excellence for the last decade, and he will be missed. He embodies the true spirit of an armor-bearer! The one reassuring factor is that God has blessed us with many, many men and women who also have the same spirit, and are willing to jump in and help fill the gap!
There is a powerful spiritual principle behind all of this: Jonathan had one (armor-bearer) because he was one, both an armor-bearer and friend to King David. The words that defined and inaugurated their friendship tells us volumes. “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants.” Their souls were knit together meant this was more than just a nice acquaintance, but a deep covenant bond that brings out God’s best in our lives. In the New Testament, it was not the size of the church that determines this, but the priorities and commitments of people’s hearts. I love what Alan Redpath said, “It is God’s plan for souls to be knit together. The human heart has cried out that it might be knit to another as Jonathan was knit to David. Therefore, every true friendship, every real Christian courtship, every genuine oneness in marriage, is a re-establishment of this sacred union. It was God’s purpose from before the foundation of the world.”
I was recently reading an article about Honoring Your Missionaries, and it mentioned what I think is unthinkable, that in some places they are not honored. Yes, I understand the blend of local ministry and global ministry, and that they are BOTH important. I also know, that you can’t “export” what’s not happening in a dynamic way locally. Church planting is essentially taking the life, the commission, and the disciplines of evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, Biblical authority and transporting it to another city or nation through the lives of a God-called and anointed couple. One way that we keep that call and vision constantly before the minds of people is by the flags of the various nations where we have workers that fly from the rafters of our auditorium. They are vision-expanding, and a constant reminder that God’s influence through the local church can reach not just our city, but also around the world. So as of 10-4-11 under the flag of Argentina, are not just faceless employees, but beloved armor-bearers, Fred & Mary Lou Gonzalez!