We have just heard that a dear brother has gone home to be with the Lord. He was well respected in his community and worked for many years with us providing opportunities to train pastors and church planters in Cambodia and Laos. He will be missed
As I reflected on the occasions I was with him, I began thinking of Stephen in Acts 6 to 8. He is first brought to our attention when the Early Church needed “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3) who could be appointed to make sure widows were taken care of. Stephen was among their number. Luke makes another comment about Stephen and says he was “full of grace and power, and was doing great wonders and signs among the people” (6:8).
If no one read the verses that followed, we might think the need was met; end of story. No! The immediate result was that “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (6:7). The influence of these godly men advanced God’s work.
No one told Stephen he had to preach also. The circumstances provided the opportunity and Stephen was ready. Through his familiarity with the Scriptures, Stephen preached a very powerful and convicting message that resulted in his death because it stirred up opposition. Was this a waste of a good man? Absolutely not! If nothing else, his preaching that ended in his death also forced a much-needed expansion of the gospel beyond Jerusalem, even into Ethiopia.
There are times when our loss becomes the catalyst for growth and movement of God into new territory. Let us be looking for what God will do next, not just the end of a life.
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