Are you a Barnabas?

Are you a Barnabas?

by Rob Appel, Executive Director


As we read about people in the Bible, there are many that we could pattern our lives after. Abraham had a close relationship to God and was called the “Friend of God.” Queen Esther, regardless of the consequences, took a stand for what was right!

The Apostle Andrew looked for opportunities to bring others to Christ, just like his brother Peter. And Phillip, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, was willing to go wherever he was told to go.              Just as we can find people of the Bible we could pattern our life around, there are people in this world who have a strong influence on our behavior. I had such a person in my life: my mother. Jeanette Appel was an encourager! She was a prayer warrior and was especially sensitive to everyone around her.

She was like Joseph from the Bible. Not the “Joseph” you might be thinking about, but rather “Joseph, the Levite from Cyprus.” The apostles called him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. We are told in the book of Acts that Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the money and gave it to the apostles.

Barnabas was the kind of guy who encouraged people wherever he went. Barnabas had the ability to bring out the best in others. He would do everything within his power to help someone out and go out of his way to pick them up if they had stumbled and had fallen.

He was the one who would help others realize that even though they may have stumbled and felt as though they had failed, that their failure was not final. He encouraged people to learn from their mistakes and to focus on the future.

Barnabas understood that his God was a loving and compassionate God, Who was willing to forgive in those times we failed Him. Barnabas also understood that Jesus gave all people a new beginning. And he realized that the Holy Spirit could transform the junk of our past into jeweled crowns.

Barnabas became a strong leader in the early Church. God used his abilities! God used Barnabas’ abilities to encourage people! Barnabas’ ministry made a life-changing difference in the lives of many, some of whom went on to accomplish great things in the Kingdom of God… like the Apostle Paul.

I feel that Paul would not have had such great success in his travels and church planting if it were not for people like Barnabas. Barnabas was always there to encourage, support and prop Paul up when he was tired, beaten and discouraged. In fact, Barnabas was the first of Jesus’ disciples to go to bat for Paul (Saul).

When Saul was confronted by Jesus and struck blind, one of the first things he did when his sight was regained was to seek out Peter and the other apostles. But the apostles refused to meet with him because they knew his past. So they were not only afraid of him, they were skeptical of his “so-called” change of character.

But in Acts 9:27, it was Barnabas who brought him to the apostles. He told the men how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus! Barnabas was willing to put his own reputation on the line with the apostles for someone who—only a few weeks earlier–had been a sworn enemy to the cause of Christ and had Stephen stoned to death.

In a very real way, Barnabas played a big role in helping Paul become the great missionary and church planter that he was!

We still need encouragers today in our efforts to plant new churches. The people who will work in those churches will need encouragement. This might be where you fit in to the process of planting new churches in strategic areas of North America. Are you a “Barnabas”?

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