“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Acts 8:1 NASB
“Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”
Acts 8:4 NASB
After Stephen’s death a great persecution against the church started. It was so big that the Christians were scattered from Jerusalem to Samaria and Judea.
Before the persecution, the church was gathering mostly in Jerusalem, forgetting what Jesus told them in Acts 1:8
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 NASB
But through the persecution, the good news about Jesus started to spread out and today, here we are, the gospel reaching the remotest parts of the earth.
Some would say that there are two ways for us to answer to the Great Commission: Acts 1:8 or Acts 8:1.
When I was part of OM Ships on Doulos, I remember the day we all received the news that the ship had to stop. There was more than 300 missionaries onboard the ship, committing their lives to full time ministry for 2 years of our lives. I was among them. The news of the ministry had to come to an end impacted the lives of many, and all of us questioning ourselves “Where to go next?” “What is God’s plan in all this?”. But one thing everyone had in mind “I won’t go home yet because this is not the end”. Now without a place of ministry or a place where we could call it “home”, all those 300 missionaries, went to all over the world to continue there answer to the Great Commission. The ship’s decommission activated us to go even further on the Great Commission.
Jesus orders us to don’t stop where we are. He wants us to keep moving outwards so the good news about Jesus can reach every person on Earth.
Should we start now or wait for a persecution to come and to force us to move out of our comfort zone?
Our goal as a church this year is to start 2 new churches. It is a big step. But we do in obedience to what Jesus taught us: to bring the good news about Him to even the remotest parts of the Earth.
Father, thank you for every leader on this church. People who you raised up to obey you in expanding your church here in Japan. Help us to keep moving outwards in unity. In Jesus name I pray.