Blessed by Hardship
by: Lee DeYoung
The eighth chapter of Acts describes the initial dispersal of disciples from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. The immediate cause was “a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1). An angel directed Philip southward to the Jerusalem-Gaza road. Along the way, he encountered a court official from Ethiopia, who was so moved by Philip’s explanation of the gospel that he requested immediate baptism. The homeland of this responsive official was called Cush in biblical times—the modern nations of Ethiopia and Sudan.
Many from this same region have been more recently baptized in response to Words of Hope broadcasts in the languages of the Dinka and Nuer peoples. In early 2011, Nuer listener Peter Machieng wrote: “We hope these broadcasts will continue in the future in [newly independent] South Sudan because they encourage peace and unity among our many communities. There is no way for Satan to block this way to God. These gospel broadcasts also encourage many who had suffered during the twenty-one years of civil war. They bring real comfort to our people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Just as early persecution in Jerusalem led to the first convert from northern Africa, the Lord has used recent hardships in that same region to further build his church.