THE LOCAL CHURCH AND GLOBAL MISSION PART-THREE. You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians believers is one of the letters that reveals the constant struggles and sufferings that Paul and his team went through at the cause of preaching the gospel. Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how much they suffered in Macedonia, especially in Thessalonica and Philippi before the gospel could thrive in that region. This shows that, it is not abnormal that, apart from prayer and hard labour, missionaries often go through some sufferings before achieving the desired and remarkable breakthrough among the unreached people to whom they preach the gospel to.SUFFERING FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL:
“We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know”
Philippi is a city of Macedonia. At Philippi the gospel was first preached in Europe. Paul and Silas were publicly harassed and treated shamefully when the gospel began to prosper among the people in Philippi. They were striped, severely bitten and imprisoned but they remained joyful. At Midnight a miracle took place as Paul and Silas were singing praises to God, their chains fell off, the prison doors opened and they were freed. Lydia, the first convert in Philippi became a great support to Paul and his ministry and Paul later commended the church in Philippi greatly for their supports to his ministry. After the experience in Philippi, Paul and Silas left for Thessalonica and continued their missionary work despite the sufferings continued.
“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:6).
SOWING THE GOSPEL SEED IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION:
What should we do in the midst of strong opposition to the gospel in a particular region? Should we abandon or continue to preach the gospel?
Paul said “we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition”. Paul and Silas did not give up but continued to preach the gospel in the midst of strong opposition. There will always be opposition in one way or the other as we preach the gospel, but we must not give up in the preaching of the gospel.
We are encouraged by Paul to persevere and continue sowing the seed of the gospel in different and creative ways possible and at all costs than to abandon.
“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” ( 2 Corinthians 4:11-12).
SEEKING GOD’S HELP FOR MISSION TO THRIVE
In the midst of the different challenges and opposition missionaries, and missionaries senders like the Local church need God’s help to breakthrough in mission.
Paul said, “but with the help of our God”. Help is always needed from above to carry on and to succeed in a missionary task. This is because mission work is a spiritual work, and everyone that is involved in mission either as a ‘sender’ or as a ‘goer’ is called by God. Since it is God that calls one to be involved in mission, it is also him that sustains everyone he calls.
“But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen” (Acts 26:22).
Matthew Olorunnaiye is a Cross –Cultural missionary, he and his wife Titilayo both serve with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO).
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