Encouraging Words From Galatia
How do we encourage someone? In one instance, Paul and Barnabas shows us how this is done. They encouraged the Galatians “to continue in the faith. . . . appointed elders for them in every church.” (See, Book of Acts 14:22-23.) This act of appointing leaders is their way of encouraging the believers.
And yet, in just a few years, Paul writes to these new believers in Galatia and calls them “foolish Galatians.” (See Galatians 3:1.) He is frustrated with their fickle mindedness. He is surprised that they were easily persuaded by another gospel. (See Galatians 1:6-9.) So, what we see in The Letter Of Paul To The Galatians is a series of reminders to these believers. Paul explains the gospel of Jesus Christ and the role that faith has for the believers of this gospel. He concludes with the Fruit of the Spirit as evidence of those who walk by the Spirit of God. Those who are truly encouraged by the gospel will manifest the fruit of the Spirit. How do we then encourage someone?
So, encouraging words is not enough. We need to establish systems and introduce structures so that new believers continue in the faith and are not persuaded by heresy or other forms of the gospel. We move on and equip the leaders with good teaching and sound biblical theology.
In South Asia we try to leave a long lasting encouragement to our brothers and sisters there. Just like Paul and Barnabas, we appoint elders to lead the work of many local Christian communities. We nurture groups of leaders who are expressing dynamic service. We coach these leaders to establish indigenous political structures that serve their needs and function naturally with their newfound faith in Jesus. We encourage them with a theology that makes sense to the South Asian world.
We have to give credit to Paul and Barnabas though. They tried to encourage the Galatians with more than just words. They visited the churches for the second time on their way back to Jerusalem (Acts 14:21). They appointed elders over these churches and committed them to the Lord (Acts 14:23). They warned them that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (verse 22). They prayed and fasted. And when they got back to their home base in Antioch, they shared the Galatian work with their sending churches. They declared what God is doing in Asia and Galatia.
In South Asia, we want to leave long-lasting forms of encouragement to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Whenever we are there, we give them good pastoral training that is both biblical and Wesleyan. When we leave, we remind them of the prayers of the global family. Would you join us in praying for the leaders of South Asia? Let us “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Would you pray for God’s work in South Asia?
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.