"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." - Acts 11:19-26
The unnamed men of Cyprus and Cyrene deserve so much credit for reaching beyond the Jews to the Hellenists of Antioch. That brave step was a catalyst for so much that later happened. It was in Antioch where Paul really got going in ministry (v. 26). These men understood that Messiah Jesus came not only for Jews and Samaritans but also Gentiles (v. 18).
“It is too light a thing that you [Messiah] should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” - Isaiah 49:6
Sometimes we get locked into a paradigm that prevents the advance of the gospel. So Father, I pray that you will open our eyes in Dunedin to new possibilities. What demographic are we neglecting when it comes to evangelism and outreach? Please give us eyes to see. Help us to think strategically as did these men of Cyprus and Cyrene. Let us not stand in the way (v. 17) as Jesus builds his church.
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock [Peter's confession] I [Jesus] will build my church...." - Matthew 16:18
Please show us how we can be more effective in evangelism and outreach. Give us the disciples and disciple makers we need to fill Dunedin with teaching about Messiah Jesus. This is an old dream, but what if Dunedin became the Bible belt of New Zealand? Please shake this city out of its atheism, secular humanism, cultural marxism, and postmodernism. May people be able to see through these false worldviews to the truth of Messiah Jesus and the biblical worldview. We've got to find a way to impact school age children, teens, and university students, Father. Show us how. In Jesus' name.
- Jeff Coleman