“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3, CSB)
Acts Chapter 13 brings a lot of transition in the life of the Church at Antioch, and in the lives of Barnabas and Paul (“Saul”). The church was doing very well. In fact, the Church at Antioch was experiencing such gospel success the Bible records that “the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch,” (Acts 11:26). In Chapter 13, verses 1-2, they were doing what New Testament churches are supposed to do — submitting to the Word of God, worshiping the Lord, fasting, praying, etc. — and the Holy Spirit moved among them in an unmistakable way. This thriving church was to release two of its leaders into a new work in the kingdom of God: “the work to which I have called them,” revealed the Spirit.
I am sure the members of the Church at Antioch were saddened at the thought of losing Barnabas and Paul; they were excellent teachers and respected leaders. But when the Holy Spirit said let them go, there was only one correct response: commission them and release them. The Church at Antioch was thriving with Great Commission advance. And as a reward, they were given the blessing of sending out two of their leaders into uncharted kingdom territory. What an honor for the Church at Antioch… raising up leaders, then sending them out. Acts Ch.13 was a “New Chapter” for the people of Antioch and for Barnabas and Paul as well. Who could have known at the time that these few verses would launch what was possibly the greatest series of missionary journeys in the New Testament world.
I write this blog today as a man being sent… my own Acts Ch.13 moment, so to speak. The people of Antioch Baptist Church Lovelady, TX have blessed me and my family beyond measure. We have seen the hand of God move in ways we never could have imagined. This church has experienced firsthand, like the ancient Church at Antioch, a fresh movement of Great Commission advance. And now we have come to Chapter 13. The Holy Spirit has said clearly, “let him go,” and my church family is doing so, in faith.
Today begins a New Chapter for me. I start this day as the Director of Pastor | Church Relations for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (“SBTC”). The SBTC is a fellowship of Biblically-based, Kingdom-focused, Missionally-driven churches who long to see a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit and a new wave of Great Commission advance. My particular position will be oversight of the Pastor | Church Relations (“PCR”) department. Our goal is to serve, support, and connect the pastors and churches of our great state convention.
I am excited to begin this new journey, but saddened by the thought of leaving my wonderful church family at ABCLovelady. I would appreciate your prayers, as the next several months will be quite the transition for us. Lots of change coming to the Wolfe family.
Packing and leaving the church office is difficult. But I know without a doubt that God has big plans for Antioch Baptist Church in Lovelady, TX. I spent some time in prayer this morning over the pastor’s office. The man who God has prepared for this church will be God’s great gift to them, and them to him. I can’t wait to see how God continues to grow and mobilize His church here for Great Commission advance… even though I will be watching from a distance. Whatever the coming months and years bring at ABCLovelady, TX, I am confident of this: “That He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, CSB).
My concluding prayer is the prayer of the Psalmist in Chapter 67:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us; may He make His face shine upon us so that your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (Ps. 67:1-2, CSB)
Grace and Peace,