Pete and Saul left last month to visit three Segadorian missionary families working in the distant Asheninka tribe. They traveled seven hours by bus, then six hours in the back of a pick-up over a rough road, then finally three hours in a motorized canoe in drizzling rain. As Peter notes in their newsletter it was well worth the sacrifice. Why did these two men go to such lengths to visit these families? They went because they understood how important the value of encouragement is. It is not easy to get from Lima, Peru to remote jungle towns but it you want to communicate to your fellow teammates that they matter; making the effort is the right thing to do.
Acts 11:22-24—Then the report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith—and large numbers of people were added to the Lord.
Antioch was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem. Whether Barnabas walked to a port city and took a boat to the port fifteen miles from Antioch or just walked overland, we can assume it took him at least a week to get to his destination. He did not have luggage with wheels so he either carried all he needed or paid to have his stuff transported. He had no phone to call ahead and arrange where to meet and chances are good he had never before met the people the church sent him to greet. From the passage above, we can assume that his presence was partly responsible for amazing church growth. Barnabas was so enthused by what God was doing in Antioch, that he went to Tarsus to find Saul and brought him back with him. For over a year they taught large numbers of believers—the first disciples to be called Christians.
Have you ever considered that one of the best forms of evangelism is encouragement? Think about it! If I am discouraged and not doing so well in ministry and someone travels 16 hours just to visit and encourage me—is it possible that I will be reenergized to serve the Lord? If a total stranger travels over 300 miles to encourage my interest in learning about Jesus — is it possible, I may conclude that the gospel is valid and indeed life changing!
Would you consider doing something with me? Stop and spend a few moments in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who needs encouraging. Then make the sacrifice to either travel to that person’s location (if God so leads), or write a letter (don’t email—that’s too easy), or pick up the phone and call that person and build them up. Go the extra mile to make a difference in someone’s life. Let God use you to be a soul-shiner. If we would spend more time encouraging saints, we would find a whole lot more people wanting to become saints.
There is a good reason why dogs are therapeutic—they use their tails to fan our hearts.—Unknown
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)