The Power of Encouragement
In Kenya as we moved from Kakamega to Webuye, believers gathered in churches, homes, and restaurants. Everywhere I went they asked me questions about the meaning of passages in the Bible, issues about their churches, and most of all about keeping their daily relationship with Jesus strong. One thing I noticed is that few looked at their watches. Time for Kenyan brothers and sisters was not the ticking of seconds off a wristwatch. It was an opportunity—a chance to come together and have personal time with a seasoned pastor with knowledge of God’s Word and His grace.
Somehow I think my Kenyan brothers and sisters are much closer to the Apostle Paul’s view of time than the usual American emphasis on trying to organize every minute and sticking to the schedule. After the Ephesian riot, Paul doesn’t just run away from the danger.
“After the uproar ended, Paul sent for the followers of Jesus. He encouraged them, and then said good-bye. After departing, he proceeded and departed to Macedonia, and as he traveled through those parts, he encouraged the believers with many words until he came to Greece (the southern area of the present country, the section the Romans called Achaia). He stayed there for three months, but when a plot was made against him by the Jews just before he set sail for Syria, he decided to return back through Macedonia.” Acts 20:1-3
As Luke begins Paul’s travel itinerary that will climax in a third return trip to Jerusalem, his key word to describe Paul’s ministry is to picture him coming alongside those who are following Jesus and taking the personal time “to encourage” and “to exhort .” (v. 1, 2) Like Barnabas when he first encountered the new believers in Syrian (11:23), and like the Judean prophets Judas and Silas, Paul encouraged and strengthened gatherings of believers, and they didn’t limit the time (15:32).
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