The East and the West
Steve Nicholes, the Dean of the Word of Life Bible Institute here in Jeju, S. Korea, took me out to Café Cola, close to the water on the Korean Strait. The place was filled with classic glass coke bottles (even Santa Claus bottles), memorabilia, and old coke signs. You could order any kind of Coke you wanted.
In teaching the Bible from Kenya to Korea, and a lot of places in between I’ve learned that the Coca Cola Company has gone into all the world and proclaimed their good news—“Taste the Feeling.”
While waiting for my cherry coke, Steve made an amazing statement, “Dave, in seminary I learned all about how Paul took the Gospel from Antioch to Turkey, to Greece, and eventually to Rome. And then in Church History we studied the History of the Church in the Western World. What I didn’t learn is that the Church of Antioch didn’t just send missionaries west. They also sent them east. And the Syrian missionaries took the Gospel all the way to China on the old Silk Road.”
So in Acts 16, as we see the Holy Spirit drawing Paul across the Aegean Sea into Europe, we must not think that this meant the Gospel was only for the West.
“And Paul and his companions went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia (central Turkey today), having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the Word in Asia Minor. When they came to the border of Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia (to the north in Turkey), but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.
Passing through the area of Mysia, they went down to Troas (the chief port city of north-west Asia minor). In the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian man was standing there and urging Paul, ‘Cross over into Macedonia. Help us!’
And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Gospel to them.” Acts 16:6-10
We can thank Jesus that He gave Paul this vision so that the Gospel was brought into the West, but we must remember that though the Holy Spirit blocked Paul at this time from preaching more in Asia Minor, later in the third missionary journey he will be back and the Gospel will reach every corner of Asia Minor. In fact the Apostle Peter writes a letter to the believers living in Bithynia, the very place at this time the Spirit wouldn’t allow Paul to preach. Other believers did go into these areas and establish churches.
LORD, as an American living in the Western World, help me not to forget that Your Son died for all the nations, and we need to keep going north, south, east, and west until every people group on earth has heard about Jesus’ amazing grace.
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