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Acts 16:9-11 / Jul 2012

By Martin Robinson

Martin Robinson

Martin is the Principal of Springdale College and Director of TMN UK.  He is a church planter who is passionately committed to the exploration of what it means to be a missionary in post secular Europe. He is one of the lead editors of this journal.

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Acts 16:9-11

01As a European I delight in this text as representative of a moment when the gospel was crossing from Asian Minor (Turkey) to a part of the world that we would identify as Greece or Europe today. Although Europe did not exist in the minds of people living then as a geographical or cultural entity, there was an important sense in which the gospel was nevertheless entering onto new soil and that is always a challenge for any missionary.

02I love the sense of partnership involved in the “Macedonian call”. This was not a matter of asking people to come and do all the work for them. At the same time there was clearly a recognition that there was a need to ask for assistance. In the matter of mission none of us are self sufficient, we are always called into the business of partnership. That partnership is sometimes between “canny” natives and culturally sensitive foreigners.

03The vision of a Macedonian man came to Paul but the call was intended for the whole team who were then working together. Luke records that “they” had been forbidden by the Spirit of Jesus to enter Bithynia and that “we” set sail for Samothrace. Mission is a team activity, simultaneously recognizing what we have to bring but welcoming the contributions of others where we might not be gifted.

04There is a delightful sense of immediacy and action that accompanies this story. They sailed a straight course to Samothrace – no deviation at all. The call came and it had to be acted on immediately rather than debated, prayed about, researched or referred to others. There are those moments in mission where we need to act and action cannot be delayed without missing the moment of opportunity.

05In the midst of the availability and hard work of the team, God was vibrantly present, breaking into their present reality and suggesting a call that they might not have considered left to their own planning. Their desire was to go elsewhere, God had other plans. In the midst of mission we need the direction of God, his divine ability to create a way. Mission is also a partnership between the human and the divine, the present and the eternal.

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