Usually, by following the example of this chapter, ‘teams’ of two or more would go together to the foreign field. Many had very little money and the prospects for raising more fund from the home front was slim to none. Some had a very rude medical education; some were well versed in the Holy Bible, but with no idea of how to present that Gospel to a pagan people group. There were strange stories told by seamen who had the first contact with the natives. They were a wild bunch, prone to killing, drinking and a general evil life style. And that was the seaman! ;-)
Some of the early missionaries were from the elite side of society. Wealthy men and women with a desire to serve their Lord to the end without any care as they turned away from the powerful, carefree life of their homeland. C.T. Studd (1860-1931) was an English missionary who faithfully served His Savior in China, India, and Africa. His motto was: "If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish doctor and missionary, considered one of the most important European explorers of Africa, also pioneering the abolition of the slave trade. He reached many 1,000s with the Gospel. David Brainard (1747), well-known missionary in the American Indians:
"I am going into eternity; and it is sweet to me to think of eternity; the endlessness of it makes it sweet. But oh! What shall I say of the future of the wicked! The thought is too dreadful!"On January 8, 1956, five missionaries (Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian) were killed by the Waorani Indians (referred to at the time as the Auca Indians of Ecuador). Amy Carmichael 1867 – 1951 was known as the Rescuer of India’s children. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said;
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unsprayed for.”Certainly, you can’t talk about the Missionary movement without speaking of the Father of Missions, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, in the 1700’s. He was known as the Count Without Borders as he encouraged many hundreds to follow the Lord’s command to God and preach the Gospel.
Many others left a trail of pain and blood for others to follow. But there is also the trail of countless new beginnings. Men and women, boys and girls who were once living in darkness had come to the Glorious Light of the Gospel of Jesus. Now set free and forgiven, they in turn leave their homes of relative safety and enter areas that their Grandfathers would enter only to fight, kill and get even. Now, they are warriors of a different kind. Soldiers of the Cross--&--Followers of Jesus.
Acts 13 is the crucial point for the Church. Look at just what they did and how they went about doing it.
First, Luke shows us that the Church there in Antioch was well established. They knew their people and they knew what their people were capable of doing. Best part of all, they knew what their God was capable of doing. All that we have looked at so far in this study of Acts was well in their hearts and memory. Miracles of healing, freedom from jail, incredible growth, persecution that was unparalleled. And they saw a need outside their own community. They did not get tired of their fellowship, but needs were so much greater OUT THERE!
Secondly, they were working within their Spiritual Gifts. There were prophets and there were teachers. There were five men identified who had these special gifts. They were being readied for His service.
Thirdly, they had an international group. Know of any churches like that? Barnabas was from Crete. Simeon was most likely from Africa and was most likely the man the Roman soldiers forced to help carry Jesus’ cross back in Mark 15:21. This could be the SAME person! (Also see Romans 16:13 were Simon’s sons are also spoken about; Rufus and Alexander.) Then there was a Lucius of Cyrene who was both a Christian teacher at Antioch (Acts 13:1), and Paul's kinsman (Rom. 16:21). His name was Latin, but his birthplace seems to indicate that he was one of the Romans of Cymene, in North Africa. (Libya) Both men were most likely back. Manaen, who in his youth was chosen as a companion to a prince, Herod. Even Saul who was a Pharisee was from Tarsus.
~Some of the above material comes from the study on Biblical People of Color © 1998 by David Humpall.~
Today, this same kind of function—that of being a cross-cultural pioneer church planting among un-reached people’s groups is still a high calling. Check out Romans 15:20; 1 Cor 12:28; 2 Tim 1:11
Romans 15:20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.
1 Corinthians 12:28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
2 Timothy 1:11 And of this Gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
Fourthly, the men were in worship. This is where God speaks to His people. When we are close to Him, we can hear His voice better. Think about it! Think back when you were cold to the things of God, you were feeling a divide—a separation in your relationship with your Heavenly Father. When you were not reading His Word, you were not able to draw from His Power. When you were prayerless, you were not even talking with Him. Here, not only were they worshiping, they were also engaging in one of the Spiritual Disciplines of fasting. They were seeking the Heart of God and God was moving them to do so.
And while they were worshiping and fasting—for a time, the Spirit of God spoke to them! When all other sounds were gone…they could hear God—just like with Isaiah.
Isa 6: 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted… … 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (NIV)
How does the Spirit of God direct the Missionary Operation?
Look at the timing here. Verse 2 starts with “While they were worshiping…” And verse 3 starts with “So after they had fasted and prayed…” What went on between two and three? God spoke. As He did in Genesis; He spoke and there was creation! Here, the Spirit of God moved those early men of God to send out as their first Church missionaries. They placed their hands on them and sent them out!
And where did they go? Remember when we first meet Barnabas? Where was he from? Acts 4:36 "And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas … a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race…”
They went to Barnabas’ home island. For these new missionaries, they did not have to go to language school. In some cultures, language school takes about three to six months. In other places, it takes a lifetime.
The goals were the same then as they are today. Verse 5 “when they arrived…they proclaimed the Word of God.” Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And they had a helper in the person of Mark, who was in Mary’s prayer meeting during the imprisonment of Peter. Just a point here: it is far better to go in a team than by one self.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work
Getting back to one of the basics of Spiritual Formation, or Discipleship, we will need to ask an important question: Is worship part of the Believer’s practice? The answer is “Yes.” What about the other element that was in this chapter, the element of fasting? What is the purpose of fasting? (See Handout)
One purpose of fasting could be to withdraw as far as possible from the pull and control of the world system and cause oneself to be open to the commands from the heart of God. Exodus 34:28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water.
Luke 2: 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. In both verses, both Moses and Anna were seeking special particular guidance. In both situations, the Lord showed them His heart. Not to be used to force God’s Hand!
Well, was it only the leadership that needed to do this as in Moses or were the whole church participants in this endeavor? In this case, and that of Acts 6:1-7 when they were choosing seven men to aid the widows, the leadership seemed to be the ones doing it BUT the leaders were doing this in front of the entire Body.
How is one called to service? Who sends the missionary out to do the work of the Gospel? God sends the sent-out-ones via two crucial and matching means: The personal, inward calling to the person and the outward confirmation through the resident church.
The Church Releases the Workers:
There were no assessments of the two sent-out-ones. They had seen them work in their area for over one year. They had been sent to Antioch from the Mother Church in Jerusalem to strengthen the baby church. The Word of God states: 1 Tim. 3:10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve…
To give these men a great sendoff, they covered them with prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands. Both the local church and these men worked together in an act of solidarity both to commission them as an outreach of their own fellowship but also and commend them to God’s Grace and blessing.
The local church had cultural diversity and was spiritually gifted. They had sensitive and obedient leaders who were willing to let go some of their best men to do this hard work of evangelism. As a local church ourselves, what is our roll in World Evangelism? Can we just send money and pray for missionaries like Hiroko Yamashita? Or are we getting ready some people to go out from us as the early church did at Antioch?
Over the years at ICCS, we placed on our handouts each week, this phrase: “A Place To Worship God.” As long as we kept the fist things first and kept worship central, we grew.
Recently, after looking at how the Lord had moved us in ministry, I have seen that He touched us in three areas: Restoring Hurts, Reaffirming Faith and Reconfirming Commitment.
If we keep this going, we will both help in the healing of many who have been hurt and redirect their hearts to the Lord of All Mercy and Comfort. How does this happen, you ask? He wants to touch your heart in an Eternal Way, by having us:
Affirm His nearness in your heart.
Visualize God’s presence in your mind.
Renewal of your mind
Access God’s nearness through prayer, Talk with Him/by yourself and in community
Reflect His presence in our behavior. Walk/talk/act as His Child/ Just as you received Christ Jesus-so walk in Him.What would Jesus do? You do the same…Next week: Christmas talks start!