“Hey, Dad, how can we ever reach the nations of the world with the gospel when there are simply so many and most are beyond our reach as a local church?” That was the question posed by my teenage son immediately following a missions night presentation.
For him, the issue at stake was his individual role in reaching all people groups in accordance with the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them … and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV).
Making disciples of all nations is a daunting task for any believer who has taken it seriously. But though fulfilling it may be beyond our natural reach, it is never beyond God’s!
The encounter of Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40, NKJV) gives us a glimpse of one of the many ways in which the Lord opens doors for His gospel to get to places beyond our reach—through witnessing to people of that extended world right in our backyards.
Not unlike the Ethiopian’s experience with Philip was Cornelius’ encounter with Peter. Peter’s statement that he had finally realized that God was interested in having people from every nation follow Him was followed by a strong visitation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:34-35, 44).
Though the New Testament remains silent about what happened next to either the Ethiopian or the Roman centurion, most likely both went back home with a bubbling new faith in Christ, ready to impact their communities. Again, God expects us to be obedient in doing what we can do. And He will work wonders with that!
The point of this whole scenario is not to focus on the fact that Philip and Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit’s promptings to share the Good News beyond their particular comfort zones. Rather, the focus should be on the many of us who are also born-again disciples. There’s no limit to what the Lord can do in and through each one of us as we follow His leading and direction.
Are we willing to do our part? It strikes me that, in both scriptural passages, the “power of one” is emphasized, i.e., the power of one individual willing to touch another in his path, who may in turn change a nation.
I remember telling my son in response to his question: “Son, just be open to share the gospel with friends and acquaintances you may meet in life who may look ‘different.’ They may seem so to you, but in God’s eyes they are as valuable as you and me.”
This is certainly not earth-shattering advice. Yet, what could be more in line with our Lord’s heart for this world for which He gave His life?
By: Raúl Irigoyen, a Foursquare credentialed minister, member of the Foursquare Foundation board and the Foursquare Hispanic Commission, and retired Foursquare senior pastor in Panama.