“Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” (Acts 11:22, AV)
I was raised surf-fishing on the New Jersey shore. Every weekend my dad would pack us up in the jeep on Saturday morning and we headed out to catch the sunrise, when the fish would be feeding the best. It was not always fruitful as there were many days when the fish were not biting. However, I learned a lot about fishing. I learned several key things. First, know the tides and the weather. Second, watch for seagulls and bait activity in the water. Third, understand the structure under the water. Last, get networked and listen for the reports on where the fish were biting.
Looking back on our fishing trips, we had the best success when we followed a report from other fishermen we knew or the owner of the bait shop stating that the fish were biting. In those reports, they would tell us where the fish were and what bait or lure was doing the best. We basically sought to go to the place where things were happening. That is what we see here in this passage of the book of Acts.
Due to the persecution of the church in Judea, believers were scattered to remote regions. As they went, those that were scattered could not help but speak of Jesus as the Messiah, their Savior. They first spoke to the Jews. Yet, some came from Cyprus and Cyrene to Antioch and spoke to the Gentiles there also. Somehow, the church leaders in Jerusalem received a report about what was happening. They decided to send Barnabas to Antioch to check things out and minister to these new believers. He was there to establish a firm foundation for their faith by ministering to them in the word. However, Barnabas realized the enormity of the work and the need for assistance. So, Barnabas went to Tarsus, found Saul (Paul) and brought him to Antioch.
The key point here is that the Jerusalem leaders in receiving the report from Antioch, realized that there was a place where God was at work. Understanding this, they determined to join God in what He was doing by sending Barnabas to Antioch.
This is a vital principle for the church today. Often the church today functions in a different model. Church leaders gather and talk, and then decide where God should be working. They then throw resources and money into the area kind of blindly, based upon the presumption that if they think it needs to be done that God will bless them. In some cases, the Lord does bless these efforts however, in many cases, mere presumption turns into a futile effort. This can happen in various areas of ministry. It can happen when we establish evangelistic endeavors, or church programs. It often happens in the way we plant new churches.
This is the principle that Henry Blackaby highlighted in his ministry. See where God is at work and join Him there. In the ministry, we must realize that God is always at work. We just need to open our eyes and seek to understand where He is working. When we spend much time in prayer and observation, we will find it. When we do, we then need to join Him and enjoy the blessing of participating with Him and seeing Him at work.