Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey wherein they sailed to the scenic island of Cyprus and then on to Turkey. He first appeared in the Bible in Acts 4:37. A compassionate man, Barnabas was very concerned about those in need. Barnabas did not enforce Jewish laws about circumcision and kosher foods. In Acts 4 we learn how other believers shared their prized possessions and God poured rich blessings on them. Believe it or not, no one who shared was ever in need according to Acts 4:34. These believers prayed for boldness to witness for God and continued to share their resources. Sharing usually makes our hearts merry especially when we feel that our missionary work is pleasing to God, our maker. Sometimes, as Christians, our activities may be community focused and again we may do things with a world-wide impact. Our expectations can supersede our original plans because of God’s assistance for the good works that we do. With quiet courage, without lots of talk, we can sometimes stimulate the spiritual growth of our associates even when conditions are very unpredictable.
In Barnabas’ efforts to glorify God through the ministry of Jesus Christ, much was accomplished. Barnabas and the apostles traveled, saw the scattering of believers, but also saw growth in numbers and faith in the Lord. Just as Barnabas was touched by God to meet Paul, or Saul of Tarsus as he was earlier known, God also leads us to encounter the presence of Holy Spirit filled people who can and will strengthen us. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch in Acts 11:26. In this chapter we also learn that the prophet Agabus predicted a famine and charity was greatly engaged in throughout Judea (Acts 11:27-30). Can God rearrange our helpful acquaintances at the right time? The Holy Spirit separated Barnabas and Paul for greater work. God sees the entire picture and always knows our needs. Many circumstances are improved because of our (sometimes) inner strength. We may not know about our inner strength until we are awesomely challenged as Barnabas and his associates realized. Like the martyr Stephen, Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit.
What was inside the community of believers as they received the life threatening news of more persecutions and famine? Knowing that they might have had to forfeit present comforts, they trusted God or adjusted where necessary, just as we do today when we are confronted with sudden unforeseen news! The Holy Spirit spills out and saves all of us as a revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ causes spiritual prosperity within us.
With faith through His ministry of encouragement, many believed the teachings of Jesus Christ. What was the inner strength of the persecuted early first century Christians? They knew as their ministry progressed. We too shout with victory songs as Jesus lights our pathways, opens doorways and gives us knowledge and wisdom to minister to the needs of others (Isaiah 50:4) as we are blessed.
Mrs. Gladys McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.