Bhutan and a Modern-Day Barnabas

August 3, 2020

1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off. 4 So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 13:1-4

Written by Brett Freemon from the Brentwood Campus

I am reminded of a man I met while on a trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan. He goes by the name of ‘Paul’ for reasons you will see. I had the privilege of meeting with Paul in the capital as he was recovering from a recent trip. You see, Paul spends a third of his time recuperating in his small one room apartment, he spends a third of his time hiking from monastery to monastery in this Buddhist country to share the Gospel with monks, and he spends a third of his time in jail for sharing this same Gospel.

Paul recounted his last trip with me, which followed the same pattern of many other trips. He and an associate from his local church of about 20 people had just been released from a jail in the northern part of the country because so many other prisoners and some guards had been led to Christ. Paul always traveled with someone, and it was always with a fellow believer.

Paul expressed that he had been ‘called’ to take the Gospel to Buddhist monks and students in the many monasteries that cover Bhutan. His local church would commission him and his companion, and they would go, sharing the Gospel and seeking to plant new groups of believers wherever they went. They would be arrested and put in deplorable jail conditions. Inevitably they would be released from jail and told to leave because others would come to Christ around them. Paul told me of several new groups of believers scattered around the country that needed prayer and encouragement. All he wanted from me was prayer for good health and direction for his next trip.

The parallels to our passage in Acts are obvious, and I was able to see the story of Barnabas and Saul lived out right in front of me. They were going to the Gentiles, to a people that did not know the Lord or the Gospel message. They went with the call of God on their hearts and the blessing of the people of God behind them. They were set apart for this purpose by their church, and they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

That same Holy Spirit is in each of us as followers of Christ. We are the church, the body of Christ, commissioned and sent into the harvest field to share this same Gospel. Maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit is working in you to be one of the sent ones. Regardless, we must each live our lives and share our story so that others can know the truth of the Gospel!

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. How would you describe a modern-day pioneer church planter?
  2. What is the role of the church, of prayer, and of the Holy Spirit in sending out people to share the Gospel?
  3. If you want to be a part of a story like this, what should you do differently?

Family Activity

Play a short game of Simon Says with your child.

  • Simon says jump up and down.
  • Simon says stand on one leg.

Tell your child that God has given us instructions in the Bible. God wants us to do what the Bible says.

Now play a game of The Bible Says.

  • The Bible says to share your things. Trade toys with your child.
  • The Bible says sing songs to God. Sing a favorite song with your child.
  • The Bible says tell others about God. Who can you tell this week about God?