In the Book of Acts 18:1-11 we hear, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you…” Paul was opposed and reviled in the synagogue in Corinth. He then went out to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles in the surrounding area. The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision one night saying, “Do not be afraid…” Paul went on to convert and baptize in Corinth for a year and a half.
In Paul’s vision that night the Lord went on to say, “…no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” We are not as alone as we sometimes think that we are. We must be the “many in this city” who are God’s people. We must help one another so that none are alone.
There are different kinds of fear that we can have in our work for the Lord. In the situation that Paul was in, he had fear of the disagreeable. In life we also have fear of sticking our nose into someone else’s business, a fear of getting involved in a situation where we may not be welcomed. But God has a way of leading us to take steps that are a gateway to His Grace.
I had been on a trip out of town several years ago and as I boarded a return airline flight home, I noticed a couple who had to split up in different seat rows. Since my seat was next to the husband, I offered to swap seats with the wife so that they could sit together. They gladly accepted. I took the lady’s seat and prepared for our departure.
A young Japanese girl took the seat beside me. As the plane started down the runway, the flight was aborted. When the pilot announced engine trouble, I could tell that the girl was confused. It turned out that she was a foreign exchange student on her way to her new home in America. Her English speech and understanding was poor.
I tried to explain to Yoko what had happened. I even tried drawing pictures to help explain. I asked her what her destination was. She named a town that very few people would have recognized. It just happened to be a town where my church has a camp. It’s about two hours from my home. My family has gone there regularly over the years.
After we were guided back to the terminal, I called my home airport and had Yoko’s foster parents paged. They responded and I told them what had happened and that I would look after Yoko. We shared stories about their town and my church camp there.
After a three hour delay, we took-off and made it home. I visited with Yoko and her foster parents as we waited for our baggage. We made plans to get together the next time my family went to our church’s camp. Yoko was to be in America for one year. It’s amazing what giving up my seat on the plane led me into. I was given the opportunity to help someone who was alone. I found several new friends to boot. I’m going to look harder for ways to “give up my seat.” When we try it, God guarantees us a great experience.
In James 2:14-17 we hear, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extention: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.