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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

Transformational Ministry by Pastor Paul Becker

Ministry is transformational, and evidence of this truth is scattered generously throughout the Book of Acts.  Last week, we saw evidence of transformational ministry when the Lord stopped Saul’s mission to persecute Christians by blinding Saul with the light of his glory.  The Lord sent Ananias to minister to Saul. With an admitted sense of caution, Ananias obeyed the Lord, gently laid his hands on Saul, and called him brother. Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and the Lord restored his sight. 

Ministry is transformational, and there is more evidence of this truth.  Saul went into the city of Damascus to preach the good news about Jesus.  He then set his heart to meet the Apostles in Jerusalem.  The Lord sent a man named Barnabas to be Saul’s advocate.  Standing before the Apostles, Barnabas testified to what the Lord did to Saul and the integrity of his conversion.  Barnabas became a friend and mission partner with Saul.

Ministry is transformational and makes way for spiritual and numerical growth.  After Saul met with the Apostles, Luke writes, “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”

Ministry is transformational and does more than we can imagine. In the closing story of Acts 9, Luke turns our attention to the ministry of Peter in Lydda and Joppa. In Lydda, Peter healed a bedridden, paralyzed man named Aeneas. We do not doubt that Peter’s ministry transformed Aeneas, but we have to widen our thoughts to include how ministry transformed the lives of Aeneas’ caregivers and all who knew Aeneas. As a result of this healing, Luke writes, “All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” In the Kingdom of God, healings do more than change an oppressive situation for a person. No, the purpose of healing is to draw people to put their faith in Jesus. 

Transformational ministry may take forms we do not expect. The healing of Aeneas raises a question: Why doesn’t God answer all of our prayers? The short answer to this question is that God does answer all our prayers, not always in the way we desire, but by his sovereign will (Eph 1:11). This is why Jesus taught us to pray like this, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name… Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.  Transformational ministry will take forms we don’t expect.

An example of this is the life of Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a Christian as a teen and was paralyzed below the neck after a diving accident. Though she and everyone prayed for her physical healing, the Lord transformed her heart, mind and life into a living testimony of the power of the gospel in her life. From her wheelchair, she has offered a lifetime of ministry to broken people. Transformational ministry takes forms we do not expect. CLICK HERE to see Joni give her testimony.

Transformational ministry can resurrect dead ministries. Peter traveled to Joppa after two men urged him to go and minister to a woman who had died.  Her name was Tabitha. Tabitha was a follower of Jesus whose ministry was transformational. On her own, she made clothing for widows.  Her ministry was transformational! And then, Tabitha died. The widows who received the benefits of her ministry grieved deeply. When Peter arrived, they showed him the robes and clothing that Tabitha made for them. Peter asked them to leave the room where Tabitha’s body lay, and then, he got down on his knees and prayed. After prayer, he commanded Tabitha to get up. She opened her eyes, and Peter helped her to her feet. Luke writes, “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.” Tabitha likely returned to her ministry, but it was offered with greater glory and power as ministry from the woman who changed from death to life.

As members of Christ’s body, the Church, we are drafted into service to participate in transformational ministry.  Acts 9 challenges us to expect the Lord to transform people’s lives. We also learn that he enlists us to partner with him in offering transformational ministry, even though we may have reservations like Ananias.  And when a transformational ministry dies, we must get on our knees to pray. God answers prayer with demonstrations of the power of the resurrection to raise the dead to life.

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