“But I think it is 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.”
“Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.”
Epaphroditus exhibited the true missionary spirit... he risked his life to advance the cause of Christ. This cause became intensely personal in the devotion to his mentor and fellow missionary Paul. Epaphroditus was sent by the Philippian church to care for Paul’s needs while in a Roman jail. They could not all go, so they sent Epaphroditus in their place.
Missionaries risk their lives (their comfort, ambitions, financial well-being, and physical welfare). But that's not all. They go on behalf of others who cannot. Paul’s words regarding Epaphroditus imply that individual missionaries represent larger groups of Christians who remain home. They possess a special calling to forsake personal happiness for the joy that comes from higher level service.
True missionaries will always be in the minority representing a fraction of the membership of the church of Jesus Christ. These men and women and their families deserve ‘above and beyond’ recognition and honor from the church. They are cut from a finer cloth and have a greater value in God’s economy. Therefore, the rest of us are called to “welcome [them] in the Lord with great joy, and honor men [and women] like [Epaphroditus]”.
I used to think that we are all missionaries, the only difference between us being the location of our service. For example, I am a missionary in America [in the center of comparative luxury serving as a volunteer at my local church]. My brother and sister missionaries served in Peru [and did so for 25 years at times without running water and in homes with dirt floors, expending their entire adult lives translating the New Testament for the first time into Quechua, the language of the Wanca Indians of the Andes Mountains near the city of Huancayo in the central Peruvian Andes]. 
Even beyond location, our missionary pursuits are anything but comparable! I now believe what all true missionaries probably already know in their hearts but would never broadcast and would likely deny… Missionaries are extraordinarily special people who deserve the highest possible honor for the exceptional work they do.
 Rick and Melanie Floyd work as missionaries for Wycliffe Bible Translators. They completed the Wanca New Testament (Muśhü Limalicuy) in 2006 after 25 years of dedicated missionary service. When the Floyd’s arrived in Peru in 1981 they began studying the Wanka dialect which is spoken by approximately 250,000 people and has no previous history of written tradition. The Floyd's helped to develop the first Wanca Quechua alphabet and have produced numerous publications designed to assist Wanca speakers read their own language.