Acts 14:21-28 (JDV)
Acts 14:21 After they had preached the gospel in that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch,
Acts 14:22 strengthening the throats of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to go through many troubles to enter the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in every congregation and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Acts 14:24 They passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia.
Acts 14:25 After they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
Acts 14:26 From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
Acts 14:27 After they arrived and gathered the congregation together, they reported everything God had done with them and that he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Acts 14:28 And they spent a considerable time with the disciples.
Since the book of Acts serves as a guidebook to missionary work, we should not be surprised to find Paul and Barnabas and their team doing things that parallel that of a modern missionary.
They returned to places where they had previously worked, to strengthen and encourage the field.
They explained what their new churches were going through, helping them to cope with tough times.
They commissioned leaders for the churches.
They returned to the point of their commissioning, and spent time with their sending church.
This significant passage helps us to avoid the misconception that the early missionaries were only concerned with starting works, and leaving the new converts to complete the task. Missions work is difficult, and it takes many years and many people to establish a field, no matter how miraculous its conception is. We need people who are committed to the task of seeing the work through to its completion. We need churches who are committed to the task of supporting long term missions, not just a one-time deal.
Lord, make us a people committed to doing the whole work of missions.