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Bethany Baptist Church closed out the Vacation Bible School with a program, Sunday evening. It began with a slide show of the various classes, activities, and people involved. The theme was, “Bug Zone,” but the lessons were on Joshua, Gidion, Zacchaeus, and other familiar Bible characters that experienced God’s changing power in their lives as drastic as the change of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Each teacher gave a short account of what their classes learned. The children did Bible verses and songs. The workers who had assisted in all departments put on a skit showing the advantage of “Obedience.”
Paul and Sandy Burbidge, Adam and Natalie, missionaries to Nova Scotia, each had a part in VBS this week. Paul led the singing each evening and taught the adult class. Sandy taught the “Beetles” with the assistance of Natalie. Natalie also took part in the skit Sunday evening. Adam played the guitar and sang each evening, worked with Tim Haden on Crafts, and took part in the skit.
Adam, Sandy, and Natalie Burbidge sang a special song with Adam accompanying on his guitar, Sunday morning before Paul Burbidge brought a message on “Discipleship.”
When people are saved, they do not automatically become profitable, mature disciples displaying faultless character. When we read Acts 9:20-27 we read about Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus and we read how Barnabas was used to enable Saul to become a useful disciple. Saul had the necessary character, but did not have the maturity and opportunity to be a profitable servant to the Lord.
Saul of Tarsus had been a strict Pharisee observing the Old Testament laws and possessing faultless character. He had been diligently seeking to destroy this new sect of believers who followed Jesus. He had consented to the death of Stephen thinking that he did God a favor. But when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, all this changed. He was saved, baptized, and immediately started preaching that Jesus was the Christ.
Saul faced opposition on both sides. Christians were suspicious that Saul’s conversion was part of a plot to trap them. Jews threatened him with death so that he had to leave the church at Damascus. When he went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples there, they were afraid of him. Barnabas took him to the apostles and told them what he had seen of Saul in Damascus. This opened the door for Saul to become the greatest missionary of all time.
After a number of years of maturing in the Lord, Saul was sent out with Barnabas by the church at Antioch to carry the gospel out to other cities and nations. As the journey progressed we see that Saul who became known as Paul, began to take the lead and he went on to be an outstanding preacher.
When the disciples sent Barnabas and Saul out on the first mission trip they were accompanied by John Mark, who was to be their servant. It was not long until John left them to return to Jerusalem. John Mark had a great opportunity, but he lacked character. Later on when Paul was ready to go out on the second missionary trip, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance. Paul did not agree so they went separate ways. Paul took Silas and Barnabas took John Mark.
Later on we read that Paul, who was in prison, said that John Mark was profitable. In Colossians, John Mark was called trusted, and Peter in his writing said he was beloved. John Mark developed the character that was lacking at first. But what would have happened if Barnabas had not taken John Mark under his wing.
Barnabas wanted to invest his life in people and did not give up on them. Barnabas had a love for others and when he saw a need he had compassion. When others might have given up on Saul when he was on fire for the Lord, but looked on with suspicion, Barnabas took the risk. He took the time with John Mark that was needed. How many young people do we give up on because they lack maturity or training in character? We would do well to help the immature, struggling Christian and not count them out.