This month I found myself in the book of Acts.
In my devotions I read those captivating words as the Spirit of God moved over the church before the gazing nations outside the upper room. Then with my own eyes watched as the Spirit moved over the men, women and children of our new church.
I saw our new believers living with the peace and joy that only comes from intimacy with God. Our new brother is faithful in attending services and drinking deeply of our Bible studies. And our new sister, after a time of traveling to the southern region of the country with her father, came into our home quick to embrace Elise, the kids and I with a smile that radiated with the peace that passes all understanding.
Our home has been a revolving door of young men and women that we have had the privilege of connecting with over the past year and a half. One young lady whose family had moved to a religious city in the interior of the country came to see us the other night, and brought four more friends to meet Elise! Another young man who had returned to the village came to see me and even brought two other friends along with him.
I read in Acts 5 how Peter and the apostles had been arrested and put in prison. My imagination came alive as the angel of the Lord opened the jail cell doors and led them out into the Temple courts. I stood with them before the high priest and religious leaders and heard as the aged Gamaliel called for them to be removed.
The words of Gamaliel rushed my heart with whispered words and determined prayers for men and women like Gamaliel here in Senegal. He stood for the apostles even though he didn’t know them. He spoke in their defense even though he didn’t agree with them. He placed the responsibility of discernment and judgment back at the foot of God’s throne.
I began to pray the Lord would give us Gamaliels. Little did I know I was about to meet one! Before we held our first service in our new building we wanted to meet with our neighborhood chief. Recognizing local chiefs is very important even in our modern urban setting.
My associate pastor, an elder and I searched through the labyrinthian sand streets until we finally discovered his home. He stood up from a group of elders, put in his hearing aid and gave us an audience. Along with a gift of the New Testament in Wolof we gave him words of respect and expressed our desire to worship Jesus in his district.
To no surprise he had already heard about us and had been waiting to see if we would come before we began meeting in the building. He opened his mouth with a proverb: “When you come into the house you should come through the door.” He said because we had come through the door we would always have his favor and respect and full freedom to worship in his district of Parcelles Assainies.
As we continue to live the book of Acts in Africa we know that with every new contact, with every new friend we bring to Jesus we will face the swarming of the Sanhedrin. And so we pray and ask you to join us in prayer as we are goading Gamaliels and growing the church.