Many years ago, a friend of mine underwent a series of surgeries to correct a defect in her sinuses that made Atlanta’s high pollen counts unlivable. As she was preparing for the first one, we met in my office for pastoral care and prayer. The hospital stay would be at least a week, and she fretted over leaving her four children and husband to fend for themselves. “But I believe God is sending me into a mission field” she proclaimed. She had packed thank you cards, small boxes of chocolates, and small New Testaments in her bag. “Instead of laying in the bed feeling sorry for myself, I plan to be a cheerful witness to the power of God as I heal.” A week later when she was released, her bag was depleted and she was full of stories of orderlies she had prayed with, nurses who asked questions, and more than one person to whom she had given a New Testament. This friend reminded me that wherever we go, we are being sent into a mission field.
This was Paul’s attitude as well as he made his way to Rome to appeal his arrest before Caesar. Along the journey around the Italian peninsula, he witnessed to crowds at every port. Upon arriving in Rome, he was received by the Christians there in a manner fit for an Emperor. But like the Palm Sunday processional that welcomed Jesus, the week would end with his imprisonment.
Acts 28:11-16 (Common English Bible)
11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had spent the winter at the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with carvings of the twin gods Castor and Pollux as its figurehead. 12 We landed in Syracuse where we stayed three days. 13 From there we sailed to Rhegium. After one day a south wind came up, and we arrived on the second day in Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers and sisters who urged us to stay with them for a week. In this way we came to Rome. 15 When the brothers and sisters there heard about us, they came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and was encouraged. 16 When we entered Rome, Paul was permitted to live by himself, with a soldier guarding him.
Jesus had promised Paul that he would visit Rome in Acts 23:11, and here he was in the famous ancient city. This fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that the Gospel would be taken to the “ends of the earth,” as Rome was the farthest point in the world as it was known.
Paul was not confined in a normal jail cell but was kept in a rented house chained to a guard that would rotate out every four hours. Can you imagine the conversations he had with them? Here was Paul, held in captivity, yet he had a captive audience for his testimony that changed throughout the day.
My friend’s and Paul’s story are great reminders that even in harsh or unwanted circumstances, we have opportunities to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ and be undercover evangelists. Patients and prisoners can preach hope to those attending to them just as effectively as Billy Graham did in the stadiums.
Where is God calling you to be an undercover evangelist? Are there people in the grocery store or the hair salon who need to hear what you have to share?
Both my friend and Paul were prepared for any opportunity that God opened up. They practiced their stories and were winsome and sincere. So get ready! Your time is coming, too. Watch for it.
Undercover Evangelist by Michelle Robertson
Great post Betsy! Will use it as a devotion tonight in small group. Always reminded my teachers that “Opportunities to make a difference in a child’s life happen all the time, you just have to be ready for it.” Thanks for reminding us that opportunities to show the love of Christ happen all the time, but we have to be ready for it.
I hope your group enjoys it! Have you guys looked at Psalms By The Sea?
Not yet but planning to take a look at it