Acts 28:1-2a,7 – Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. (NIV)
Never having given much thought to the nearby resort area of the Chincoteague and Assateague Islands of Virginia, I finally visited these places of special beauty and charm. Wondering how I had overlooked such wonderful spots so close to home, I could now appreciate the unique history, way of life, and fascinating natural environment of this little-known region of my native land. Being an animal lover, I particularly enjoyed seeing the famous "wild ponies" of Assateague. An interesting legend dating back to the 1600s tells the story of a Spanish cargo ship transporting horses, which had been shipwrecked off the coast of Virginia, leaving the survivors to swim ashore. Their descendants, it is said, have been living there ever since.
Considering this famous romantic tale, I was reminded of the apostle Paul's missionary experience being shipwrecked on the island of Malta while being escorted as a prisoner by the Romans. Though a far cry from the legends of Assateague, the details of this historic event and Paul's amazing interaction with the islanders are described in Acts 28. By divine intervention, God gave Paul another opportunity to be a powerful witness for Christ to people he would not have otherwise met.
Also inspiring are modern-day testimonies, especially from missionaries in remote locations who have sacrificed so much to bring the gospel to the unreached. However, according to one source, these assignments represent less than five percent of all missionary activity. Nevertheless, missions, such as Gospel For Asia, are training native believers to work in their own country, with the advantage of communicating in their own language and culture. One missionary explains how the villagers worshipped in thatched roof huts while a church was being built out of mud to match their homes and to offer a feeling of familiarity.
Quite the opposite of the vacation resort of Chincoteague Island, there are many primitive regions of the world which have been forgotten in our busy contemporary society, yet their people are not forgotten by God. These fields are now being made ripe for the harvest. Being moved by the Holy Spirit, many will continue to hear the call of God to go and labour in these remote fields of the world — perhaps even some reading this devotional today!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the willingness and obedience of Your servants who are sent into the mission fields to live and work among people who desperately need You. Bless their ministries with the resources and ability to reach many more souls, so they, too, may experience the precious hope found only in Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name, we pray. Amen.
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