“I don’t understand why I don’t see the miracles here that people see in other places.”
My friend sat across the lunch table visibly frustrated. I’ve heard people say this type of thing before. The lament is that we hear of such great miracles in other countries, such as Africa or Latin America. So why do we not see many of these kinds of miracles here in the United States? I understand the frustration.
But there seemed to be something strange about this conversation. Perhaps it is the fact it took place during lunch with an African friend while in Africa. Ironically, my African friend voiced the same concern many Americans express.
You see, he served as missions pastor of a large church in Accra, Ghana. He went on to say that when he is out in the villages, proclaiming the gospel to people, many of whom had not heard it yet, he saw many signs and wonders. But when he was back in the city, in his home church (in Africa) and in more of a “maintenance mode”, he did not see the same kinds of miracles he saw when on mission.
I think we found an answer to the question that day. And we see that answer in Acts chapter eight and throughout the book of Acts. It doesn’t have to do with where you are; it has to do with what you are doing! Miracles follow when we are actively on mission, preaching the gospel.
As Acts 8 begins, we find the church in maintenance mode. The gospel message had exploded earlier in the book with people coming to faith in Christ and experiencing signs and wonders through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. But the church had settled down and was learning how to keep the day-to-day activity of church-life running smoothly. There is nothing wrong with this, but Jesus had commanded them to take this message out of Jerusalem to Samaria, Judea, and all the world. Their stagnation also stagnated the working of the Spirit.
Jesus told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He told them that signs would follow those who believe. And we are told that “they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:20).
This is the very thing that happened in Acts 2, Acts 4, Acts 8 and Acts 13-14. As the church was on mission and they preached the message of the gospel, signs and wonders followed. As soon as Philip went to Samaria (as Jesus had commanded), the signs and wonders flowed.
I am not saying that we must be on mission away from home—we can be in our houses, workplaces, schools, communities—but we do need to have a mission mindset and we do need to proclaim the message of the gospel.
When we slip into maintenance mode in our personal lives and our churches, it is possible to neglect the mission of speaking the gospel to those around us. Maybe we need to ask the Father to change our perspective into a “mission mindset”. It is our responsibility to go and speak the gospel. It is His promise to follow our going with signs and wonders.