How God Used the ‘No-Namers’

Yesterday, I blogged about a seemingly insignificant group of people in Acts 11 whose names weren’t even important enough to record in Scripture: “The No-Namers.” Just because their names didn’t make it into the Bible, however, doesn’t mean they were insignificant. God used their boldness and obedience to change the course of Christianity. We’re talking life-changing, eternity-impacting stuff here, and yet, we may not ever know their names.

I wanted to point out how simple their actions were and yet how life-changing they became.

Acts 11:20 simply says that they were “preaching the Lord Jesus.”

At first, that might sound complicated. It might sound like something only someone with a theology degree or some ministry experience would do. “That’s for the pros,” you might think. WRONG. It was probably much more simple than we make it out to be.

Think about it this way. In Acts 8, the persecution began. That’s when the majority of these people ran for their lives. Literally. Saul the serial Christian killer was on the loose and empowered to torture. So, they ran. Many of them may have packed up their belongings under the cover of darkness, and others may have tried to be nonchalant about leaving town. Either way, they left – in droves. Some went to Phoenicia (about 120 miles north), others went to Phoenicia then sailed another 60 miles to the island of Cyprus, and still others traveled 300 miles (a huge distance in the ancient world) to the city of Antioch. Everywhere they went they were preaching the Lord Jesus.

Some of them might have been soapbox evangelists.

Some of them might have been somewhat experienced in witnessing to people.

Most of these people, however, were just everyday people. They left with their kids and their belongings, they moved to a new city, they assimilated into a new culture, then (here’s the key) they lived out the Gospel day in and day out wherever they went. They boldly continued their lives in a new place with the same message: Jesus Christ. They each became a small part of a gigantic move of God.

For years, I prayed for whichever city God would take us to to plant a church. I knew eventually that’s what we’d do, but I had no idea where. As of February of 2009, I knew where we were headed, so I took a more direct aim with my prayers. I pray daily (almost) that God would help us to reach the city of Clarksville, TN. How will we do that? The exact same way these people did: obedience and boldness. How will we see lives transformed and the community impacted? Through the bold witness of a few people who may never get the credit for it.

Power to the No-Namers

“The No-Namers.”

“The Leftovers.”

“The Extras.”

Whatever you want to call them, you know who they are (or actually, you don’t). They’re the people who contributed to the movie, but didn’t make the credits. They played a very minor role in the movie such as walking down a sidewalk in a group of people or being one of many nameless customers in a store. Half the time, they’re only partially in focus while the focus and lighting is on the main actor(s). They seem unimportant, but in reality, the movie wouldn’t be the same without them.

It’s the same with a nameless group of people in Acts 11. I mentioned them tonight in my teaching and I was really intrigued by not only their lack of credit, but the powerful way God used them.

We’re given no names, only this description:

Acts 11:19 – “those who were scattered after the persecution”

and

Acts 11:20 – “some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene”

That’s it. No bios, no historical background, not even a nickname, just a quick description and location. Yet, look what God did through these no-names:

Acts 11:21 – “And ‚Äčthe hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and ‚Äčturned to the Lord.”

God used a group of no-names to help bridge the gap between the Jews and Gentiles! They were used by God to reach an unreached people group. I AM A GENTILE. I am included in the story of the Gospel because of the obedience of a bunch of people of whose names I will never know! These overlooked people changed the course of Christianity through their simple obedience. Plus, their obedience wasn’t as simple as we make it sound. The whole reason they left Jerusalem was because Saul (before Christ) was fueling a Satanic persecution against the church. These people risked their lives by continuing to share the Gospel.

Their names may have never graced the pages of Scripture, but their obedience was not overlooked. Neither is yours.