Antioch Stories

I’d been waiting for her visit. She’d been gone a long time, over two years, and now she was back in the States. We arranged to meet at a neighborhood restaurant to catch up, but her visit was more than just catching up.

I wanted to hear her stories—It was an Antioch moment.

Visits like this have been taking place for over two thousand years, and it all started with a man called Paul, no, it actually started with Jesus. After all, he sent out the twelve disciples, giving them power and authority to do amazing things in his name and to preach the kingdom of God. Luke tells us that they later returned and reported to Jesus all they had done (Luke 9).

Maybe that’s what prompted the church in Antioch to do the same. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, they had commissioned Paul and Barnabas to share the good news of Jesus to the nations, and they did, traveling for the next couple of years. Naturally, upon their return, there was much to tell about what God had done through them and how many Gentiles had come to faith.

Fast-forward to a typical American restaurant, and you find the “sent” one sharing with the “supporting” one. Sure, I’d chatted with her via email and text messages; we’d sent voice messages to each other, but it wasn’t the same.

Face-to-face is the best way to share.

I watched her expression as she told of good times and bad. She’d been through a lot in such a short time, but God had shown himself faithful. We rejoiced together over hearts that were softening to the gospel, and how God was opening new doors of service among women. She shared her heart’s desire in pursuing a special degree that would enable her to have a more viable reason for remaining in the country, allowing her to reach many for Christ. My prayer list for her increased, as I listened to specific requests.

Have you had an Antioch moment? Which side were you on—the sharing or the hearing? Both are great and so encouraging. For those who get to share, it’s an opportunity to pour out all that’s been growing inside us. Many times, missionaries aren’t able to write openly in emails or through phone calls. That’s another reason these face-to-face times are so precious. They’re able to share things for the first time with those who have supported and prayed for them. It’s a chance to say thank you for your support and to reveal just how important those prayers were.

For the hearers, it’s a confirmation that all parts of the Body of Christ are important for the work of the Kingdom. Because you gave, God used this precious soul to speak truth, and be salt and light to a lost and dying world. Because you prayed, God heard and empowered them to share and softened hearts to the message. He also protected them, as you lifted them up during hard seasons.

In Antioch, the sent and the sender can rejoice together.

Make time for sharing and listening; this is the role of a church on mission.

Grace and Peace

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