Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called "the black man"), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them." So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
— Acts 13:1-3 NLT
Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch from their trip to take needed financial support to the impoverished believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30). Luke listed five prominent leaders in the church in Antioch. They came from a variety of different backgrounds, reflecting the diverse church. They had broken through all sorts of barriers culturally. The Holy Spirit grew them into a gifted and gracious church, eager to share their fellowship, funds, and very best leaders.
While worshiping and fasting, the Spirit challenged the church in Antioch to send Barnabas and Saul, two of their most vital leaders, out on God's mission to the world. (Worship and fasting are always an invitation for God to be praised and for his people to be open to his leading.) These God-selected leaders obeyed the Spirit and began a missionary journey to reach people in other parts of the world.
We should long to be like these early disciples in Antioch — gifted with dynamic leaders, gracious in sharing our fellowship and funds, as well as sending our best to take the Good News to the world!
O Father, move in your people through the Holy Spirit. Stir up leaders in all parts of the world. Speak into the hearts of those who are worshiping and fasting to know your will for them. Fashion more of our churches to be like the early church in Antioch, welcoming all sorts of people into our fellowship and committed to go all over the world to share the love and grace of Jesus with all people. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.