Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus was giving instructions to his disciples in the scripture verse today before He ascended back into heaven. Jesus had appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days since the resurrection and now Jesus was giving the disciples their marching orders to go out into the world and to be witnesses for Christ.
One thing that we often overlook in this passage is the words of Christ at the beginning of verse 8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and then….you will be my witnesses…” It is the power of the Holy Spirit that must come first before the disciples can set out on mission. The Holy Spirit would guide them and would enable them to carry out the mission of being witnesses throughout the world.
We don’t talk about the Holy Spirit as often as we should in church today. We know that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity but what exactly does the Holy Spirit do? Many times we don’t understand how the Spirit is working and we try to follow our own instincts instead of being a Spirit led people.
Four years ago, my pastor and I went on a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. That trip has been on my mind a lot lately as you can tell by the photos that I have posted on my website. I’m not sure why we felt called to go or if we even thought that we were called to go to this war-torn country. But somehow, my pastor and I, felt led by God to travel to this West African nation.
On our first day at the church we were visiting, I was giving a talk on the role of deacons in the contemporary church today. Many deacons from other congregations were in attendance and there was a lot of discussion about the role of deacon and the role of the pastor. The pastor of the church that was hosting us stood up and said that there was something that he wanted to say. He said that many of his church members were unsure of whether they would be able to understand two men from America and they questioned whether or not they should attend. Their pastor begged them to just come the first day and see if communication was going to be a problem. (English in the language spoken in Liberia but the dialects are very different). The pastor said that he was amazed how everyone was talking and that everyone seemed to understand everything that was being said. “The Holy Spirit is truly present here with us in this church today”, he said.
I also believe that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke to their hearts to invite us to come and it was the Holy Spirit that worked within our hearts to convince us to go.
I felt the Holy Spirit at work in that church in West Africa many more times that week and it was a powerful experience. Jesus told His disciples some 2,000 years ago and His disciples today to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. And that is what I thought that I was doing. But after going to Liberia, it was my brothers and sisters in Christ there – that were witnesses to me. The Holy Spirit does work in strange and mysterious ways.