Read stories from listeners of TWR Women of Hope.
Jun22FriJune 22, 2018 By the TWR Canada Women's Ministry Team
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The power of a well-spoken word of encouragement can’t be measured. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself. Have you been the recipient of a kind word or gesture at a time when you needed it most? How did that help you press on through difficult times? Or perhaps you had the double blessing of being that encouraging person for someone else.
Barnabas, a companion of Paul’s, was such an encourager. We’re told in Acts 4:36 that Joseph, a Levite from Cyrene, sold land and donated all the monies to the early church. This is the man whom the apostles called Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” Acts 11 tells us that Barnabas was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” Through his life and testimony, many people were brought to the Lord. It’s also assumed that Barnabas was one of the 70 disciples mentioned in Luke 10, appointed by Jesus to go ahead of him in pairs to all the cities he was preparing to visit.
You could say Barnabas had clout. He had a good reputation, which had been earned over many years of faithful service, personal sacrifice and wise counsel. Barnabas is perhaps best known though as the close companion of Paul on his missionary journeys. How did that relationship come to be?
In Acts 9, we see how Paul and Barnabas met. Early in the chapter, we read of Paul’s miraculous encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and his conversion to faith in Christ. We know he then spent three years studying, after which he returned to Jerusalem. He hadn’t been in Jerusalem since his conversion; everyone remembered Saul of Tarsus and his zealous persecution of the people of the Way, but this Paul they’d heard nothing of. Luke tells us in Acts that Paul tried to speak with the apostles, but they were too afraid of him to meet.
Barnabas went to Peter and pleaded Paul’s case. Paraphrasing a little, but perhaps Barnabas said something like, Peter, you’ve got to hear this guy’s story. I really believe him. Give him a chance to tell you his story. So, Peter hears Paul’s story and from there Paul stayed in Jerusalem for 15 days preaching and teaching until he was run out of town. After those 15 days in Jerusalem with Peter, John and Barnabas, Paul retreats to Tarsus for five to eight years, and no complaint is recorded.
In Barnabas, Paul found someone willing to give him a chance and hear his story. More than that, Barnabas stood before Peter (a man perhaps not well-known for his listen-first, act-later approach to life) on Paul’s behalf.
Years later, who is it that’s sent to Tarsus to fetch Paul to begin his missionary work? Barnabas. What a bond that must have been forged between them in those few short days in Jerusalem where Paul told Barnabas the most miraculous story of his encounter with Christ. Barnabas saw Paul’s potential and believed in him, and his actions helped pave the way for Paul’s ministry. Barnabas’ encouragement made a big difference.
This is what many are doing through the TWR Women of Hope ministry. They are reaching out in compassion and listening, supporting and encouraging others to find hope and healing in Christ. They are being a voice for those who aren’t heard. And, at times, they are being like Barnabas. Their words and their practical help are an encouragement to those who desperately need to hear that they are of value and that someone cares.
The power of an encouraging word can never be underestimated. If the opportunity arises to encourage another believer in their walk, consider the kind words and friendship offered to Paul and the mighty influence they had. Let that spur you on in your own interactions. You never know where or how God will use your words to be exactly the healing balm or the encouragement someone needs.