Most folks don't know his real name — it's Joseph. Even fewer know where he is from — it's Cyprus. Very few know which Jewish tribe marked his ancestry — Levi. Yet remarkably, this fellow is one of many Christians' favorite people of the Bible. However, most folks know him only by the nickname given to him by the apostles — which is Barnabas. This nickname means "son of encouragement" or as we would call him today, "The Great Encourager." (Acts 4:36-37)

Barnabas was generous with his financial and real estate resources. That is where he received his nickname. However, this trusted leader in the early church was also sent out to check on the rumor that non-Jews were responding to the Gospel message in Antioch. (Acts 11:22-24) He found that God was doing great things there and searched for Saul from Tarsus (who later became known as the apostle Paul) and asked him to join in the effort. (Acts 11:25-26) At this point, Saul had been converted, but most folks were afraid to include him because of his history as a persecutor of Christians. After spending time together building the great church in Antioch, Barnabas included Saul (Paul) as his traveling companion on a great missionary journey. (Acts 13:1-3;  Acts 14:21-28) After securing the preaching of the Gospel to non-Jews, Paul and Barnabas would split up. (Acts 15:1-39) Barnabas not only found his emotionally wounded nephew, John Mark, he also restored him to useful missionary service. (2 Timothy 4:11)

Barnabas' life was a journey of encouragement, church building, people development, and faith. No wonder this "Son of Encouragement" was considered to be a man of faith and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 11:24) What an incredible life he lived! I'm not sure how I will be remembered, but I would sure love to be remembered as an encourager like Barnabas.

I would sure love to be remembered as an encourager!
Over the nearly ten years Heartlight has been in existence, we have made it through good times and bad, primarily because of your encouragement. That encouragement has come in many forms — encouraging emails, a timely donation, a request to share articles and images, an e-card, a note letting us know we are in your prayers, or testimonies about the ministry has blessed you or those you love. You have often been our Barnabas! Thank you. Our commitment has been to offer our resources to folks all over the world without charge. God has blessed us in doing just that, but that would not have been possible without your many forms of encouragement.

As we enter this special time of giving gifts and celebrating the greatest gift ever given, we want to thank you for your gifts. Over the next few weeks we will have our twice per year fund raising drive that keeps the Heartlight ministry going and growing. You can find more information about ways to support the ministry through an email tomorrow and by following the link to our special support page. But today, let me just say thank you again for your encouragement! Thank you for being a Barnabas to us.