The gospel continued to spread. Even after Stephen was killed in Jerusalem, it did not stop Jesus’ followers from sharing the Good News. The Holy Spirit continued to empower God’s people to grow God’s church and encourage other believers who were going through hard times. In this lesson, we learned how Barnabas went to Antioch and brought along with him to stay with the church for a whole year so that they could teach them about Jesus.
During the week, some of our friends did a world map activity where we located all the points that were mentioned in this week’s Bible story. We began with Israel, the place where Stephen was killed for loving Jesus. As believers scattered to different places, we also coloured in Phoenecia (Lebanon today), Syria, Cyprus, and Antioch (which is Turkey today). Lastly, we located the place where we live today and coloured it in.
How amazing it is that the gospel was able to spread all the way from Israel to where we live! When God revealed to Peter that the gospel was not only for the Israelites, but for everyone, this led the church to grow even further to reach the gentiles–everyone else who was not born of Jewish descent. The gospel spread in the early church and it is still spreading today. Let’s continue colouring this world map as we think of other Christians we know in other parts of the world who have already heard and been changed by the gospel, and let’s continue praying for those other uncoloured parts of the map where people have yet to hear and receive the Good News!
Paul and Barnabas stayed with Antioch for one whole year because they wanted to help disciple the believers, encourage them through their fellowshipping with them, and establish the foundation of the church as more new believers were added to the growing church. Paul and Barnabas encouraged the people in Antioch to follow God, even during hard times when believers were being persecuted. As the believers grew in their knowledge of God’s Word, they also began living and acting differently than their neighbours who didn’t know the gospel. People around them saw that those who believe in Jesus were different and that is how they came to call them Christians–Christ followers.
When we look back on this past year and reflect how we’ve been living under varying coloured zones of the lockdown, how have we been teaching people in our communities about Jesus? How have we been living for Jesus? How have we been loving Jesus, His people, and His world? When people look at us, will they see that we are Christians?
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