It starts with one person…

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Acts 8:26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

The rest of this chapter describes how this Ethiopian became a Christian believer and asked to be baptized. It brings to mind for me how Jesus had told the disciples, once they had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they would be witnesses for Jesus “in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”. In part they fulfilled their evangelical mission by personally going to other nations. However, this story shows us another way. The story doesn’t specifically mention it, but one can assume the Ethiopian shared the good news in his home country.

Most of you know I am a Lutheran pastor. Years ago I was invited to be a delegate of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) at a Lutheran World Federation gathering. I was struck by how many Ethiopians were present, a testament to the fact that the Lutheran church is growing rapidly in Ethiopia but shrinking in much of the West. Today’s passage reminds me how the Lord orchestrated the planting of the gospel in that country 2,000 years ago and that we continue to see the spiritual fruit to this day.

And it started with one man in a chariot.

Lord Jesus, you send believers all over the world to share the good news. But the truth is there is work to be done here at home. Give us grace to engage those to whom we are sent. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

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