This article was originally published by The Mennonite

A witnessing and multicultural experience

Byron Pellecer is Associate Conference Minister for Western District Conference, based in Texas. 

As I visit our established and emerging congregations in Western District Conference, I find myself praying a simple, respectful and honest prayer: “LORD, help me to see you at work in this community of faith and in this neighborhood.”

 I try to be alert to the movement of the Holy Spirit and how he leads us to be healthy missional churches and how much we allow him to work in and through us.

Through Scripture, especially the book of Acts, in both personal and communal experience, one notices how the Holy Spirit moves and leads people and congregations to be missional, to reach out beyond the four walls of the church buildings.

I am both challenged and inspired by the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. I would like to think of this interaction as both an evangelistic and witnessing approach and also as a multicultural experience.

Contrary to contemporary thought, the Ethiopian here is not to be taken as the target of mission simply because of the color of his skin, nor is he to be considered a despised or deprived person. Quite the opposite: this person was a powerful court official and prominent man. And he was also receptive to the message of the Gospel.

In the accounts of Luke, despite of his influence and power, the eunuch is unable to understand Scripture, but he is open and willing to beseech Phillip to interpret the text that he is reading. It seems that he has many questions about the Word of God. Once his “inquisitiveness” was satisfied, he experienced repentance, conversion and baptism.

But the story does not end with the baptism of this Ethiopian man. One cannot leave out another important detail here; the fact that Phillip was willing to hear and follow the instructions of the Holy Spirit in one of the most contradictory situations. He was asked to go to the desert and join a person who was reading Scripture.

It’s also intriguing that, according to this narrative, neither the angel nor the Spirit explained the Scripture to the eunuch; this duty was reserved for Phillip – a representative of the church. This job was and still is reserved for Christ’s followers.

Knowledge of Scripture, obedience and guidance of the Holy Spirit marked Phillip’s witnessing. God will find the way and the vessel to make himself known to the world.

The challenge for Western District Conference is just the same. From the corners of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, we are called and sent by God to witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whether we look alike or not, the call is just the same: to join God’s redemptive work.

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