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Much More Than Survival

In April 1937, Mussolini’s invading armies forced all the missionaries serving in the Wallamo region to flee Ethiopia. They left behind just 48 Christian converts, who had little more than the gospel of Mark to feed their growth. Few even knew how to read. But when the missionaries returned 4 years later, the church had not just survived; it numbered 10,000!

When the apostle Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica (see Acts 17:1-10), he yearned to learn about the survival of the small band of Christians he left behind (1 Thess. 2:17). But when Timothy visited the Thessalonian church later, he brought word to Paul in Athens about their “faith and love” (1 Thess. 3:6). They had become “examples” to the believers in the surrounding regions in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thess. 1:8).

Paul never claimed credit for any numerical increase in his ministry. Nor did he attribute it to anyone else. Rather, he gave credit to God. He wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6).

Difficult circumstances may thwart even our best intentions, separating friends from each other for a season. But God is growing His church through every difficulty. We need only be faithful and leave the results to Him.

Lord, we are so prone to be fearful when we face
opposition, yet so often we want to take credit
for every little success. Help us see that You are
the One who blesses and builds Your church.
I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. —Jesus (Matthew 16:18)

Insight

In today’s passage, Paul reminded the Thessalonian believers about the great opposition to the gospel that accompanied his ministry to them. This young congregation had experienced its share of persecution, so Paul’s transparency about his struggles helped strengthen their faith.