Key Text: Acts 8:4-8
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
The predicted time of “severe persecution” had begun. The followers of the risen Christ were like seed cast to the wind and the wind, as Jesus said, blows where it will – a fitting metaphor for God’s Spirit.
Scripture tells us that “all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen (the first of many Christian martyrs to come) and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul (who would become the great apostle known as Paul) was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.”
It was a dark and frightening time, to say the least.
It was also a time of great growth in God’s kingdom.
The passage above gives one powerful illustration of this, telling of Philip’s ministry in the city of Samaria. His preaching there; exorcising; healing – they all speak of how God was powerfully at work at the very time when some were trying to snuff out the small flame of the early church when it had only just begun to bring light and hope to the world.
We too, thousands of years later, can be among the scattered and faithful.
Whether or not we are literally driven by persecution into lands previously unknown is less the point than that we can preach the word wherever we are.
It is important to remember too that preaching the word does not always have to mean literally giving a sermon. St. Francis reminded us of that – how we should “preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.”
So here’s a question – where is God sending you next?
Where can you bring light and hope and healing, under the Spirit’s guidance and power?
If you are open to it – you may find that you are sent into some very unusual circumstances to meet some very unusual challenges – all in the name of Christ.
That’s how God works miracles.