“Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” (Acts 11:29–30, AV)
When I worked for a company located in Zurich Switzerland, I would need to travel on business to the home office about four times per year. These trips would last anywhere from two weeks to two months. While I was there, on Sundays, I would attend an English-speaking church in Zurich. After the service, I joined the congregation in their fellowship hall for a cup of coffee. On one occasion, I began a conversation with a married couple, who were perhaps ten to fifteen years older than I was and they invited me to lunch at one of the city’s restaurants.
Being with this church couple for lunch was an amazing experience. We talked for a couple hours and it seemed as if we knew each other for years. There is an amazing bond that joins Christians together that is irrespective of culture, ethnicity, and geography. Paul wrote of it like this. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13, AV). In a real way every believer is joined in the body of Christ. As a new believer, it never truly dawned on me until I spent time in Zurich and met believers in a distant place.
Here, in this passage, we see a practical manifestation of this unity that believers have. A prophet from Jerusalem named Agabus visited Antioch. He told them of a great famine to come in Judea. Hearing this, the disciples in Antioch decided to take up a collection and send it to the brothers living in Judea. The amazing thing about this is that this predominantly Gentile church did not have anything to do with the Jewish believers in Judea. Yet, because they were united by the work of the Holy Spirit, they were compelled to help the believers in need some 300 miles away.
Today we often see this same cooperation between churches. Several years ago, a severe hurricane hit Puerto Rico. The area was devastated. Their entire infrastructure was down. Our associate Pastor had a connection with a church pastor on the island and reported that the pastor was trying to help his congregation but did not have the resources to do so. We presented the need to the congregation and our little group donated around eight-thousand-dollars to help. We had no expectation that we would get anywhere near that kind of response.
What our little church did was just one example of the type of thing that multitudes of churches have done over the years. God works in some mighty ways to have churches helping other churches. Through this, He gets the glory. Consider your church and look for ways that the Lord might use your congregation as a funnel for blessing others.