Story Nine

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
THE EARLIEST MISSIONARIES
WE have seen how, after the death of Stḗ phen, those who were driven out of Jē̇-rú sȧ-lē̇m went everywhere telling of Jesus. Some of these men traveled as far as to Ăń tĭ-ŏch in Sy̆ŕ ĭ-a, which was a great city, far in the north, two hundred and fifty miles from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm. At first they spoke only to Jews̝, preaching the word of Christ; but soon many Gĕń tīles̝, people who were not Jews̝, heard about the gospel and wished to have it preached also to them. So these men began preaching to the Gĕń tīles̝, telling them about Jesus Christ and how to be saved.
The Lord was with the gospel, and in a little time many believed in Christ, a great number, both of Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles̝. Thus at Ăń tĭ-ŏch in Sy̆ŕ ĭ-a, arose a church where Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles̝ worshipped together and forgot that they had ever been apart. The news came to the mother-church in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, that in Ăń tĭ-ŏch Ġĕń tīles̝ were coming to Christ. As all the followers of Christ in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm were Jews̝ they were not sure whether Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles̝ could worship together as one people. It was decided, after a time, that some wise man should go from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to Ăń tĭ-ŏch and see this new church of Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles̝. For this errand, they chose Bäŕ na-băs, the good man who had given his land to be sold to help the poor, and who had brought Sa̤ul to the church when the disciples were afraid of him. So Bäŕ na-băs took the long journey from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to Ăń tĭ-ŏch. When he saw these new disciples, so many, so strong in their love for Christ, so united in their spirit, and so earnest in the gospel, he was glad, and he spoke to them all, telling them to stand fast in the Lord. For Bäŕ na-băs was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.
The church at Ăń tĭ-ŏch was growing so fast that it needed men for leaders and teachers. Bäŕ na-băs thought of Sa̤ul, who had once been an enemy, but was now a follower of Christ. Sa̤ul was at that time in Täŕ sus, his early home; and to this place Bäŕ na-băs went to find him. He brought Sa̤ul to Ăń tĭ-ŏch, and there Bäŕ-na-băs and Sa̤ul stayed together for a year, preaching to the people and teaching those who believed in Christ. It was at Ăń tĭ-ŏch that the disciples were first called by the name Chrĭś tians.
At one time some men came from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to Ăń tĭ-ŏch, to whom God had showed things that should come to pass. These men were prophets, speaking from God. One of them, a man named Ăǵ a-bŭs, said through the Spirit of God, that a great famine, a need of food, was soon to come upon all the lands. This came as Ăǵ a-bus the prophet had said, in the days when Cla̤ú dĭ-ŭs was emperor at Rōme. Over all the lands food was very scarce, and many suffered from hunger. When the followers of Christ in Ăń tĭ-ŏch heard that their brethren of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm and Jū-dḗ ȧ were in need, they gave money, as each one was able, to help them; and they sent Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul with it. Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul carried the gifts of the church to Jē̇-rṳ sā̇-lĕm, and stayed there for a time. When they went back to Ăń tĭ-ŏch, they took with them the young man Jŏhn Märk, the son of the Mā́ ry̆ to whose house Pḗ te͂r went when he was set free from prison, as we read in the last Story.
Some time after they returned to Ăń tĭ-ŏch, the Lord called Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul to go forth and preach the good news of Christ to the people in other lands. At one time, when the members of the church were praying together, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to them, saying, "Set Bäŕ na-băs and Saul apart for a special work to which I have called them.”
Then the leaders of the church at Ăń tĭ-ŏch prayed, and laid their hands on the head of Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul. And Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul went forth, taking with them Jŏhn Mark, the young man from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, as their helper. They went down to the shore of the Great Sea at Sē̇-leū́ cĭ-ȧ, and took a ship, and sailed to the island of Cȳ́ prus. In that island they visited all the cities, and preached Christ in all the synagogues of the Jews.
At a place called Pā́ phos, in the west of the island of Cȳ́ prus, they met the Rṓ man ruler of the island; a man named Se͂ŕ gĭ-ŭs Pa̤ú lus. He was a good man, and sent for Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul, that he night learn from them of Christ. But with the ruler was a Jew named Ĕĺ y̆-măs, who claimed to be a prophet, and who opposed Bäŕ na-băs and Sa̤ul in their teaching, and tried to persuade the ruler not to hear the gospel.
Then Sa̤ul, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on this man Ĕĺ y̆-măs, the false prophet, and said to him, "O thou man full of wickedness, thou child of the evil one, thou enemy of the right, wilt thou not stop to oppose the word of the Lord? The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind for a time, not able to see the sun!”
And at once a mist and a darkness fell upon Ĕĺ y̆-măs, and he groped about, feeling for someone to lead him by the hand. When the ruler saw the power of the Lord in bringing this stroke of blindness upon his enemy, he was filled with wonder, and believed the gospel of Christ.
From this time Sa̤ul ceased to bear his old name, and was called Pa̤ul. He was no longer Sa̤ul, but "Pa̤ul the Apostle," having all the power that belonged to Pḗ te͂r, and Jŏhn, and the other apostles.
From the island of Cȳ́ prus, Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs and Jŏhn Märk sailed over the sea to a place called Pe͂ŕ gȧ. At this place Jŏhn Märk left them, and went back to his home in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-.lĕm, But Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs went into the land of Ā́ s̝iȧ Mī́ nor, and came to a city called Ăń tĭ-ŏch. This was not Ăń tĭ-ŏch in Sy̆ŕ ĭ-a, from which they had come, but another Ăń tĭ-ŏch in a region called Pī̇-sĭd́ ĭ-ȧ. There they went into the synagogue, and Pa̤ul preached to both Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles̝. Not many of the Jews̝ believed Pa̤ul's words, but a great number of the Ġĕń tīles̝, people who were not Jews̝, became followers of Christ. This made the Jews̝ very angry, and they roused up against Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs all the chief men of the city, and they drove Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs away. They went to Ī-cṓ nĭ-ŭm, another city, and there they preached the gospel with such power that many of both Jews̝ and Ġĕń tīles believed in Christ. But the Jews̝ who would not believe stirred up the city against Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-bas. They gathered a crowd of people, intending to seize the apostles and to do them harm, and to kill them.
But they knew of the coming of their enemies, and as they had now done their work in Ī-cṓ nĭ-ŭm, and had planted the church, they quietly went away from the city.
The apostles Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs next went to the city of Ly̆ś trȧ in the land of Ly̆c-a-ṓ nĭ-ȧ and there they preached the gospel. There were few Jews̝ in that city, and they preached to the people of the land who were worshippers of idols. Among those who heard Paul speak at Ly̆ś trȧ was a lame man, who had never been able to walk. Pa̤ul fixed his eyes on this man, and saw that he had faith to be made strong. He said to him with a loud voice, "Stand up on your feet!”
And at the words the man leaped up and walked. As the people saw how the lame man had been healed they were filled with wonder, and said, in the language of their land, "The gods from heaven have come down to us in the forms of men!”
They thought that Bäŕ na-băs was' Jū́ pĭ-te͂r, whom they worshipped as the greatest of the gods; and because Pa̤ul was the chief speaker, they thought that he was Me͂r-cū́ rĭ-ŭs, the messenger of the gods. In front of their city was a temple of "cell-ter; and the priest of the temple brought oxen, and garlands of flowers, and was about to offer a sacrifice to Bäŕ na-băs and Pa̤ul as gods. It was some time before the two apostles understood what the people were doing. But when they saw that they were about to offer sacrifice to them, Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs rushed out among the people, and cried out, "Men, why do you do such things as these? We are not gods, but men like yourselves. And we bring you word that you should turn from these idols, which are nothing, to the living God, who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and all things. It is God who has done good to you, and given you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling you with food and gladness.”
And even with words like' these they could scarcely keep the people back from offering sacrifices to them. But after a time some Jews̝ came from Ī-cṓ nĭ-ŭm These Jews̝ stirred up the people against Pa̤ul, so that instead of worshipping him, they stoned him, and dragged out of their city what they supposed was his dead body.
Then they left him, and as the believers gathered around, weeping, Pa̤ul rose up alive, and went again into the city. On the next day he journeyed with Bäŕ na-băs to De͂ŕ bē̇. There they preached the gospel and led many as disciples to Christ. After this they went again to the cities where they had preached, to Ly̆ś trȧ in Ly̆c-a-ṓ nĭ-ȧ, to Ī-cṓ nĭ-ŭm and Ăń tĭ-ŏch in Pī̇-sĭd́ ĭ-ȧ, and to Pe͂ŕ gȧ in Păm-phy̆ĺ ĭ-ȧ, and visited the churches which they had founded. They encouraged the believers, telling them to continue in the faith, and saying to them that those who would enter into the kingdom of God must expect to meet with trouble, and that God would give them a full reward.