We remember Paul as one of the heroes of the church, but often overlook a key person in the process to Paul’s incredible ministry. I am referring to Ananias…not the infamous one (cut to the Three Amigos defining infamous as more than famous), but I mean the one with an ear open to heaven.
The church does a great job of promoting leadership and bookstores are not short on resources for leadership and ministry strategy. Those departments of the church have their place even if that place might be out of balance as we are looking for more leaders to take the church where it needs to go, but in overhyping leadership, we miss out on other necessary principles to effective ministry.
We need more people like Ananias who listen to God and follow through on what he assigns us. God met Ananias while he was at home minding his own business. I will take some license and postulate he was laying low as the prolific enemy of the church was coming to town to drag any of those heretics following Jesus’ teachings into jail. This madman looking to destroy the church, Saul, was looking for some people he could teach a lesson to. While keeping his head down, God came to him to go find this Saul and pray for him. Ananias balked, saying, are you sure you are talking about the right person? I love when we want to check the facts God comes to us with. God took Ananias’ questioning in stride and said, yes, I mean that Saul. He is going to be a powerful instrument for us reaching the Gentiles.
God knew where Saul would go and how he was preparing him for a long and tough ministry to bring the church from the Judea/Samaria region to the utmost regions of the Roman Empire. However, without Ananias, would we have Paul? Without Ananias, would Paul still be moping, blind and in despair for his missteps in persecuting Jesus?
I think of those unsung heroes that played a pivotal role in the life of the stars of ministry. One of my favorite stories include a faithful Sunday school teacher in the mid 19th century, or what would be a youth leader in today’s church. He showed up faithfully, but one day a boy came in unable to find his place in the Bible or read at the level of the other teenagers in that class. This young man felt out of place and stayed on the fringe not making new friends or connecting well. His mom pushed him to go to the church even though he would prefer to be doing other things.
The youth leader kept pushing to make a relationship with this boy. He connected with him at a deeper level and one day while dropping in on him as he worked at the local shoe store; he led Dwight Moody to a relationship with Jesus. Moody went on to be the greatest evangelist of the 19th century, preaching to more than a million people in large cities in America, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Most people won’t be the Paul or Dwight Moody, but they can play a pivotal role in the life of those that have more up front ministries. They can be equally as valuable in the process of God’s kingdom advancing around the world. Who are you impacting for Christ?