Recently I have been reading through the book of Acts. I have not read Acts since I was a freshman in college. 4 years removed from that point I am finding astonishing truths in this simple and practical book that records the early church and it’s serving and evangelistic efforts. Acts 13 records Paul and Barnabas taking the Gospel to different cities in Cyprus, cities that had not yet heard that Jesus died and rose again for their sins. The gentiles in the city of Paphos flocked to the Gospel and it is recorded in Acts 13:43-45 that the entire city came to hear Paul and Barnabas speak. This of course offended the Jewish leaders who convinced the city leaders to persecute Paul and Barnabas and run them out of town. This seems like an anti-climatic ending as verse 51 says that Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet in protest against [those who ran them out of the city] and went to the next city to give them the Gospel. However, the very next verse touches on something that is undeniable. As they were leaving Paphos verse 52 says:
” And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”
I have touched on this before, but there is nothing like serving others and bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to them. Evangelism has become somewhat of a four letter word in our culture today. I even hear churches call it the “E” word. However when we do not participate in the “E” word, we run the risk of missing out on the true joy that the Holy Spirit gives when a person or a church participates in evangelism.
Recently our church has put a huge emphasis on evangelism. We believe that every person has a part in it. We think evangelism goes deeper than just speaking words. It is found in serving others as well. In the past few weeks we threw a free block party, had an outreach everyday of the week, bought out a theatre showing to give out free tickets, all leading up to a big celebration service where we had a guest speaker that spoke about salvation and baptism. We got the privilege to see the Holy Spirit move in people’s lives like we have never seen before in a church building. We got to be apart of almost 50 baptisms and 16 salvations in one day.
Although the baptisms and salvations are great and they are the goal of all our evangelistic efforts, I could not help but noticing the joy and filling of the Holy Spirit that our church members got to experience in pulling together in our serving and evangelistic efforts. I’ve had multiple people say to me that they have never felt the joy and moving of the Holy Spirit like they have in these past few weeks. Everyone pitched in. The ladies that served lemonade at the block party, the 3 year old with a broken arm passing out Dr. Pepper to show God’s love in a practical way, all the encouragers and counselors that helped describe what salvation and baptism was all about. Everyone had a role in our evangelistic effort these past few weeks. This is why we have tapped into what the disciples in Acts 13 felt. This is why our church is the healthiest it has been in a long time. This is why it is actually fun to be with other believers with the same mind-set. Serving others and participating in evangelism allows the Holy Spirit to give us a joy that only the “E” word can bring.
You can see pictures from what is described on this blog at: