THE feast day of Saint Barnabas was celebrated at Saint Barnabas Cathedral of the Anglican Church of Melanesia last Sunday.
The story of the life and example of this saint was the highlight of the Sunday worship which was attended by representatives from the government, members of the Council of Bishops, invited guests and parishioners.
Senior Bishop and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Malaita Bp Sam Sahu in his sermon described Saint Barnabas as the encourager.
“As a true son of encouragement, we read in Acts 11, how Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul (Paul); when he found Paul, he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year, both missionaries met with the young believers, the young church for teaching, evangelism and outreach,” Bishop Sam said.
He said it was also Barnabas who encouraged John Mark.
“God used Barnabas to give John Mark a second chance as a young evangelist and missionary. No Barnabas, no Paul; no Barnabas, no John Mark. No John Mark, no Gospel according to Saint Mark.
“So on this day of commemoration and thanksgiving, the church gathers together in worship and in thanksgiving to God, for Barnabas, son of Encouragement and Apostle,” Bishop Sam said on Sunday.
He said the story of Barnabas and Paul in the Book of Acts is very interesting and encouraging as it shows how the leadership started with Barnabas but later changed over to Paul.
“As an encourager, he saw the potential in this former persecutor.
“He brought him to Antioch, trained him in missionary work, in church planting (many times they travelled together as a team), and finally handed over the baton of leadership to Paul.
“…a very good example of team work and leadership training for world mission and evangelisation,” Bishop Sam said.
Bishop Sam said the story of Barnabas is a real story of Christian discipleship and leadership – the story of a follower and a leader of the early church, recorded in the Book of Acts.
Therefore, Bishop Sam then asked parishioners of St Barnabas Cathedral on Sunday to answer few questions as they reflect about the life and example of their Patron Saint Barnabas.
These questions are;
- Before Barnabas became a follower of the Lord Jesus, he was a Levite; that means he had a strong connection with the Temple in Jerusalem. Is your connection to this Cathedral church strong or weak? If your connection is healthy and strong, thank God, if it is weak what can you do about it?
- Barnabas was a real convert from Judaism to Christianity. You can watch his life, his character, his teaching and you can say, Yes I see clear signs of faith and repentance in this person. Can people around us say the same thing about us when they watch our lives and our teaching? Are we living and working in the church, in our government offices, in businesses, in politics and in our homes as real converts and disciples of Jesus, like Barnabas?
- Barnabas was a man, a disciple, a leader with a generous heart, a big heart for God and for God’s people in Jerusalem. Out of his possessions (what he owned, including his land), he gave, in a big way, to support the mission of the early church in Jerusalem. How is your giving towards the work of the Lord here at the mother church, our provincial cathedral? How is your giving in terms of your money, your time, your energy, your knowledge and skills?
- Barnabas was a man, a disciple and a leader committed to team work and partnership in mission and ministry. How is that team work and partnership exercised within this cathedral church, the Diocese of Central Melanesia and within the whole of Melanesia today?
- Barnabas was a disciple full of faith and Holy Spirit. As a church and as individual disciples of Jesus, can we honestly say that we are full of faith and the Holy Spirit?
- Barnabas was a disciple and leader of prayer, vision and hard work. Can you say that you are a disciple and leader of prayer, vision and hard work?
He said these questions should be used as a check list for each parishioner in their Christian journey.
Bishop Sam also added that he thinks the church and this country is too small to change and develop into a developed country from a least developed country.
“We now have many well educated people up to PhD level.
“I think we only need more good planning and organising, more team work (good partnerships) and more hard and smart work.
“And more disciples and leaders who are full of faith and the Holy Spirit with a more Christ-like character so we can be more humble, more honest and more holy (no holy than thou) and more hard working people,” he said.
The church service on Sunday concluded with speeches from the Governor General Sir David Vunagi, the Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia, the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea and a performance from the Cathedral choir.