January 12, 2019
Lynn Thrush – Bishop, Great Lakes Conference
Bible meditation: 19:21-28:31 (spread of the gospel, Rome)
After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” Acts 19:21
I wonder from where Paul’s compulsion to visit Rome came.
As I write this, four BIC church leaders and I have just completed a visit to Dearborn, Michigan, a city comprised of the highest concentration of Muslims in the U.S. Muslims in Dearborn started with Henry Ford bringing Arab men to work in his Ford car factory.
Our group was exploring the question, “Should the Brethren in Christ invest in ministry in Dearborn?” As we ask this question, I return to Paul’s compulsion to share the gospel in Rome and wonder, How does compulsion lead the Brethren in Christ U.S. to invest in new audiences for the sake of the gospel?
From the stories we heard, provision follows compulsion. Sometimes God uses very ordinary sources of provision: One Christian leader who lives in Dearborn said his cat helped him connect to a family with four children a few doors away. His cat is very friendly and loves to be petted. It wandered down the street, and four Arab neighbor kids petted the cat and then followed the friendly cat back to its home, there to have conversation with the cat’s owner.
“I must visit Rome,” said Paul. Compulsion. For the BIC I believe that “we must invest in Dearborn,” and no doubt provision will follow. And you, where is your Rome, your Dearborn? Where, like Paul, must you invest Kingdom attention? For the sake of the gospel, make connections with the persons the Henry Fords (and cats) of the world bring to your neighborhood because … we must.
Father, as we begin a new year, help us to obscure the lines demarcating nations and people groups. We are all yours as we come before your throne in worship. Amen.