from Brian Autry, SBC of Virginia Executive Director
Recently I traveled with some of our SBC of Virginia team members to the border of Greece and Macedonia to experience firsthand the ministry to refugees fleeing war-torn places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Because SBC of Virginia churches partner to mobilize for the Great Commission, a compassionate ministry to refugees has been underway for months. In the words of those I met hoping for a brighter and better future, “Thank you.”
While we were in Greece, one of our ministry partners took us to visit the ancient city of Corinth. We approached the city of Corinth via a modern-day highway, and I was struck by an imposing mountain overlooking the city. Our host told us that on top of the mountain stood the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite. Once in the ancient city of Corinth, I walked around the ruins of Apollo’s Temple. There, in the shadow of Aphrodite’s towering temple and in view of Apollo’s Temple, was where the Apostle Paul proclaimed the life-transforming, counter-cultural message of Jesus Christ.
The words of Acts 18:9–11 took on historic and personal meaning as I stood there where Paul had preached.
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. – ACTS 18:9–11 ESV
The Lord tells Paul not to do some things: (1) Do not be afraid. (2) Do not stop speaking. (3) Do not be silent.
It may seem that your ministry, your family, and the church where you serve are facing a Corinthian challenge. (Corinth was such a rough place that corrupt, sinful behavior was referred to as “Corinthian.”) We may wonder how we can have courage when following Christ is counter cultural.
Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear—bravery. May Acts 18:9–11 encourage and embolden us to be bold and courageous as proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ. May the words of the Lord Jesus that encouraged Paul encourage us today: “I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” Not afraid. Not ashamed. Not alone.