Praying for Church Planting through the Book of Acts
Paul's journey into Macedonia (modern-day Greece) will introduce us to three distinct converts. He left Troas and came to Philippi. This was an important and influential city. Luke tells us that it was "a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony" (16:12). This would be one of the social, economic, religious, and political hubs in the region. The first convert they meet is a business woman named Lydia. She sold "purple" the color of royalty and power. The dyes needed to make this color were extremely rare and expensive - thus reserved only for the elite of elites. But "The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul" (16:14). A leading business leader and Greek woman was welcomed into the family of God.
The second convert they met was a slave girl. She had "a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling" (16:16). This was a girl trafficked by men and demons alike. Forced against her will she gave fortunes and lined pockets. But, when Paul enters the city she follows him and yells, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation" (16:17). After some time, Paul ends the demons harassment by commanding it in the name of Christ to leave. Freeing one enslaved girl would lead to their own capture and imprisonment. The gospel disrupted the social and economic fabric of Philippi as "the crowed joined [her owners] in attacking the, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods" (16:22). A young girl, enslaved to men and demons was delivered by Jesus.
Their final convert came as Paul and Silas were singing hymns in the Philippian prison at midnight. God sent a surgically precise earthquake that broke the foundation, loosed every door wide open, and removed every prisoners chains (16:26). The jailer assumed this meant his death. It was his job to ensure that every prisoner stayed in their cell. Now, he thought, they were all gone. But with a loud voice Paul cried, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here" (16:28). Three times in three verses we are told the jailer heard, believed, and welcomed Paul and Silas "with all his family" (16:32-34). A prison warden, along with his family, were saved from death and dishonor by the gospel.
Devout Jewish men used to wake in the morning and pray, "thank you God for not making me a woman, a slave, or a Gentile". Here, in one chapter we see the gospel come to a woman, a slave, and a Gentile. Every one of them comes to faith in Christ. God is creating a diverse church through Christ and the Spirit. So we pray for a diverse church filled with people who are welcomed, delivered, and saved.