Translation from the Book
Ὁ Θεός στήν ἱστορία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, Βοήθημα Κατωτέρου Κατηχητικοῦ Γ΄,
ἐκδ. «Χριστιανική Ἐλπίς» Ὀρθόδοξη Ἀδελφότητα, Θεσσαλονίκη 2016, σσ. 12-17
Do you know any other great apostle of Christ besides the Twelve Apostles? Apostle Paul!
Do you know who was Paul before he met Christ? He was a fierce persecutor of Christians! He entered Christian houses, grabbed men and women and sent them to prison. Everyone was afraid and terrified because of him. He chased Christians not only in Jerusalem but also in other cities. He aimed to drag them all in chains to Jerusalem, leave none free.
Why so much hatred? What Christ and His students were to be blamed for? Paul was a pure Jew. He loved God, he studied the Old Testament and he followed precisely its law. When he heard about Jesus, he thought that a new religion had emerged, which misled Jews from the worship of the real God. This infuriated him! He wished to eradicate Jesus's name and exterminate His followers.
His actions were as a result of his zeal for the real God and his ignorance, so God did not leave him in the dark for long. He opened the eyes of his soul in a wondrous way.
Paul was on his way to Damascus in Syria in order to arrest Christians. As he was approaching to the city, suddenly a light from the sky shone brightly around him. Dazzled and blinded he fell down. While he was lying on the ground he heard a voice; "Saul Saul why are you chasing me? (Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul his roman one). Who is talking to him? Where is the voice coming from?
- "Who are you Lord?", startled Paul asked.
- "I am Jesus whom you are chasing", the Unknown's voice replied. "Stand up and go to Damascus where you shall find what you have to do."
The men of his company were also startled! They heard the voice but they could see nobody! When Paul stood up, his eyes were open but he couldn't see. His escort guided him by holding his hand until they reached Damascus. There he stayed for three days and three nights without being able to see. He neither ate nor drank anything.
A pious Christian, named Ananias lived in Damascus. He received Christ's command to go to meet Paul and cure him. Ananias was hesitant at first.
- My Lord I have heard a lot about this man. Christians of Jerusalem have suffered immensely due to him! He came here with the same purpose, to bring bound to Jerusalem those who believe in You.
- Go Ananias, the Lord replied, for I have chosen him to preach my gospel to heathens as well.
Indeed, Ananias went to the house where Paul was staying. He put his hands on him and said; "Saul, my brother, Jesus who revealed Himself to you on your way, sent me to you so that your vision is restored and you receive the Holy Spirit". Then something like scales fell off Paul's eyes! He could see! More importantly, he could see more clearly with the eyes of his soul that Christ was the real God. He was then baptized and he became a fiery apostle of Christ.
He started preaching immediately. He went to the synagogues, places where Jews gathered to study the Old Testament, and he explained that Jesus is the Messiah whom prophets spoke of, using unarguable points. He confirmed Jesus is the Son of God.
Everybody was surprised. "Isn't this man the fearsome prosecutor of Christians?" they wondered. Fanatic Jews even came up with a devious plan to kill him. They put guards at the gates of Damascus and waited for him to cross in order to kill him!
Some Christians found out about this plan. For this reason, they lowered Paul down from the walls of Damascus, hidden in a big basket! Paul left Damascus and returned to Jerusalem.
There fanatic Jews sought again to kill him. Therefore, Christians helped him escape and he found refuge in his hometown Tarsus.
What did Paul do after this adventure? Was he scared? Did he cower in some corner and was silenced? No! Be proud of how the fiery apostle threw himself in the missionary work!
From place to place, from town to town he speaks of Christ and His Resurrection. Think of the fact that there weren't advanced means of transportation at his time. He travels on foot for uncountable kilometers! He walks across dirt roads, over mountains and across the coast side. He doesn't spare fatigue or the threats against his life. In Lystra he is stoned and almost killed. The moment some Christians helped him up, he continued his mission with his wounds still open! Nothing could restrain him. He had only one wish, burning in his heart; to preach the Gospel to the whole world! Indeed he managed to preach not only in Palestine and several cities in Asia, but he also crossed seas, he reached Cyprus, Greece and even Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. In other words, he traversed the whole known world of that era.
Do you know where he preached in Greece? In Philippi, Thessaloniki, Veria, Athens, Corinth. He is the apostle of Greece! He was the first to bring the light of the Gospel and destroy the darkness of idolatry. In this wondrous work he had valuable partners, his student Timothy, the evangelist Luke, Silas and others.
While he was touring the world, he was writing letters and epistles to Christians who lived in the cities he had passed or to his students, giving advice, resolving problems and answering questions. 14 Epistles are included in the New Testament, written under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Among them there are the Epistle to the Phillipians, two Epistles to the Thessalonians and two to the Corinthians.
Paul the apostle dedicated his life to a great cause; preaching the Gospel of Christ everywhere. Wherever he went he was the mouth of Christ.
Nowadays God is searching for children - not adults only- to give them this sacred mission too; to become His mouth, to carry His words, His truth, His light to all the people who don't know Him.
There are kids in your school who know very few about Christ and His Gospel. There are people in your neighborhood, maybe even in your family, among your relatives who don't go to church, don't read the Holy Scripture, don't pray. Who will talk to them about Christ? Who will show them the right path?
God is searching. Will he find children who love Him to start a mission?
♦ To invite other kids to come to the Sunday school.
♦ To bring younger and older people to the church on Sunday.
♦ To give advise using Christ's words.
♦ To encourage others to read the Holy Scripture.
♦ To introduce a Christian magazine, to give a gift a Christian book.
Το not rest unless they guide a soul towards Christ! Children who love Christ ask at their prayers; "Christ, please help me bring a soul closer to You!"
Mission is the biggest benefaction. A former heathen who got baptized said; "If I am found worthy to go to heaven, firstly I will run and kneel before Christ for saving me with His sacrifice on the Cross. Immediately after, I will run and kiss the hands of the missionary who talked to me about Christ. He is my greatest benefactor since he is the person who introduced me to Christ my redeemer!"
Imagine ourselves being able to offer such a great benefaction; to help people learn about Christ! Is there something else that can manage to give us more happiness than that?
Paul the Apostle of Christ
you spread His Word worldwide
His sacred message nowadays
please help me assert likewise!
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