Week 42 Sunday

Scattered But Not Defeated

Today’s scripture selection: Acts 7-8

Key Verse: Acts 8:4

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

One of the things I find encouraging about the early church’s history is that persecution seemed to only strengthen it.

They were no strangers to challenges.  They were, from the beginning, in the spiritual minority.  And they must have often felt discouraged.

And yet, they pressed on – literally scattered to the far corners of the known world – yet committed to “preach the word wherever they went.”

Today, there are missionaries still facing persecution and death for their faith.  There are those who must courageously face torture and ridicule – being the minority faith – in a hostile world.

But I live in a world where I face little difficulty because of my beliefs; in fact, if anything, for most of my career I have received praise and respect for the path I have chosen.

So it is hard to identify with those who so willingly face an angry crowd or a public execution for being a follower of Jesus.

Even so, I try to remember the roots of my faith.

I try to remember the courage it must have taken to be a Simon Peter; a Stephen; a James or Paul; a Mary or Martha or Priscilla.

They are more than just the names of a few “religious” folk from long ago.

They are my spiritual ancestors – that is – if I dare to call myself a Christian – a Christ-follower – today.

So here’s today’s challenge.

How can you and I make it clear that our faith is more than just talk?  How can we show our willingness to pay a significant price, if need be, for our faith?  How can we proclaim our desire to be instruments of God’s work, even if there is a cost to be paid?

Thankfully, most of us won’t have to face martyrdom for our beliefs.  But maybe a little “scattering” would do us some good.  Especially if it gives us an opportunity to share God’s love where it has yet to be heard or felt.

Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to proclaim my faith without apology – and to serve you – wherever I’m sent in your name.  AMEN.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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