Megan Evans, Women’s Ministry Director, LHBC
Romans 16:5b (NLT)
“Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ.”
Can you imagine introducing Christianity in such a vast area of land as the province of Asia? Paul followed the Lord’s calling whole-heartedly, and Romans 16 in its entirety illustrates a mission team of men and women. This body of believers worked behind and alongside Paul and others and supported his ministry as they actively grew God’s Kingdom together in the name of Jesus. While this passage is a practical one and easy to skim over at first glance, there is such richness through the window of this early ministry team.
In this letter to the Romans, Paul gives a shout out to many of his beloved friends. From the front of the line, to the hard workers behind the scenes, Paul acknowledges 28 people by name and makes references to even more. Much like our ministries, church plants, and mission trips today, his ministry included people with willing hearts to serve others, meet with others, and give of their time and resources. The early church thrived on the love, hospitality, helpfulness, kindness, fellowship and discipleship by individuals such as these; and he commended the Romans to receive these friends and accept them as they served the body of believers. One name stands out in particular on the list. “Epenetus” is recognized by Paul as a dear friend, but also as one of the first to become a follower of Christ in Asia.
Many areas of outreach seem daunting. It might seem impossible to envision a lost family member or friend as a future ministry partner or picture them joining you in a prayer group. It might be even harder to picture the lost ever being the ones to lead others to Christ. But God has always specialized in new beginnings–He is still the God of firsts! His love for us is where it all began. “We love each other because He loved us first”(1John 4:19). Epenetus is a reminder of the incredible harvest and of the hearts that await the Good News today, and not just those in far-away lands.
Where will your feet, hands, and voice take you today? Our family, workplace, neighborhood, and peers can seem as daunting as the province of Asia. But, what if you made time to get to know the people around you and build relationships? What if you told them of God’s great love? Perhaps there is an Epenetus nearby, ready to hear the hope you have in Christ Jesus. And it gets even more exciting than that! Throughout the Bible we see examples of many more people who believe because of one person’s testimony. John 4:39 says of the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” What a difference a testimony can make!
Everywhere we go, our testimony of what Jesus has done in our life goes with us, and when we choose to share it, lives are changed! So many provinces of lost people stare us in the face every day. Today, what seems like impossible outreach? Whom has the Holy Spirit placed on your heart? Where is the Holy Spirit leading you to serve? Will you let God show you that He is still the God of firsts?
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father God, open my eyes to the lost world around me. May Your Holy Spirit prompt me and give me the words to speak. Help me share the hope and light of Jesus into this dark world, instead of staying quiet. Show me areas I can serve you by joining alongside others in ministry to grow Your Kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK
Romans 5:1- Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.