19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”
This passage is a great reminder for us today. The early church was being persecuted and the passages mentions the martyrdom of Stephen (see Acts 7), and how this dispersed the church. As people left Jerusalem for fear of their lives, they began to spread the gospel wherever they went.
Today we have a great opportunity of our own. Since March 2020, we have been dealing with the Covid crisis, which has stopped many ministries. Some have returned, others will, and others should not. This crisis gives us an excellent opportunity to try something new, to find new missions and ministries in which to share the good news. The pandemic is our chance to increase the church by seeking out others in new ways. Technology allowed us to offer worship services and bible studies online, and many churches rightly continue to do this. Technology can also connect us with those who are seeking God. We do not have to shout on street corners or knock-on doors, rather we can use social media for God’s good. And who knows, if we embrace something new, we might also see a growth in the church just like the one in the passage.