by Michael E. Brooks
“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. … Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1,4).
Bharat from Surunga, Nepal, emailed me this week. He was on his way to a Gulf state for two years. This has become a very common thing in Nepal. There is so little work in the country that many of the young men, and even a lot of ladies, go abroad for two or three years at a time so they can provide for their families. This creates strain on families, and it also deprives the church of their work and leadership, at least for that period of time. On the other hand, it does introduce much needed currency into the economy of family, church and nation.
In Bharat’s case there is another advantage to going abroad. He will take his faith with him and work actively for the Kingdom in this foreign nation. It may not be possible for him to work among the indigenous people effectively, but there are many other transient ex-patriots working there who form communities that are largely self-contained. He will have opportunity to share the Word with them, and Bharat will do that. Remember him and those with whom he will have contact in your prayers, that they will receive the word with faith and the Kingdom will grow.
In the book of Acts the saints in Jerusalem were scattered by a great persecution. Many people suffered greatly because of this. Scripture does not claim this to have been a good thing. God loves us and has compassion in our suffering. Yet he was able to use this persecution to the growth and spread of the Gospel. That which enabled this positive result was the faith and zeal of the Christians who traveled. Because their salvation was real to them and because their love of God and others was great, they shared their good news with all whom they could. As a result the church grew and many souls were saved.
In our modern world we sadly see the opposite effect. Many students of religion have observed that when people grow up in a particular church, then later move to another location, a surprisingly large percentage do not continue in that specific religious tradition. They sometimes change churches (denominations). Often, however, they cease practicing their religion. They do not identify with another church, nor do they attend religious services regularly. They simply leave their religion behind.
God’s Kingdom is not local. It is universal. Yes, it is made up of local congregations, but our allegiance is to Jesus Christ and to “the church which is his body” (Ephesians 1:22-23). His body exists wherever those are who trust in him and obey his commands (Matthew 18:20). Wherever we may be our need for salvation in Christ is the same. Wherever we may be, our duty to serve him, share his message, and do good to others remains the same. We must remember the early Christians from Jerusalem and follow their example.
When we travel, let us also take our faith with us, that we may share it with others.
Bharat will take his faith with him and work actively for the Kingdom in this foreign nation.