THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
EVANGELIZATION AND PERSECUTION
Today’s reading: Acts 11:19-26
The work of evangelization is an assault against the kingdom
of darkness. Thus the enemy will retaliate with all his might.
Thus we can expect oppression and persecution. But Jesus has
already won the victory, and God can turn seeming defeat into
opportunities to further His work.
is what happened to the early Church after the martyrdom of
Stephen. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus,
and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews.”
(v.19). Because they were being persecuted and hunted down,
many fled. So the work was negatively affected, right? Yes
but no. The work actually expanded, as those who fled to other
places continued the work where they had scattered to.
Church first preached the gospel to Jews, but the word of
God cannot be contained. “There were some Cypriots and
Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began
to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
So the work not just expanded geographically, but also began
to reach those who were not Jews, the Gentiles. And we know
that eventually the gospel was brought to the ends of the
their difficult situations, facing opposition and oppression,
living in foreign lands, the disciples still proclaimed the
gospel. Since they still allowed themselves to be used by
God, then they continued to reap the harvest. “The hand
of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed
turned to the Lord.” (v.21).
principles do we learn here?
when we truly serve the Lord, and especially in proclaiming
his salvation, we can expect opposition and even persecution.
That is part of the package. It is not a walk in the park.
when we are opposed or our work not accepted or even stopped,
we just move on. There are many opportunities that the Holy
Spirit will provide. In fact, God would allow such seemingly
negative situations precisely in order to move us on to newer
and better situations. Of course, we should later, even much
later, try again in the place or situation where we had not
we are but instruments. Many times we do not see what God
intends to do. We must simply trust that God wants the gospel
to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, and allow Him to
use us in whatever way. If we do things God’s way, then
we need not be dismayed or discouraged with current results,
but look to the good which God is already getting underway.
To be truly God’s instruments, we must be like Barnabas,
who “was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and
we simply persist and persevere despite trials, challenges,
difficulties, setbacks, opposition, oppression and persecution,
then God can do His work in and through us. What result can
we then look forward to? “And a large number of people
was added to the Lord.” (v.24b).