17th November 2017

Be Like Barnabas!


Children pose in front of an MAF Kodiak in Jeremie, Haiti

Everyone can use a little encouragement sometimes. A kind word or a simple comment of appreciation can boost our feelings of acceptance, achievement and wellbeing. The reality is, most of us get satisfaction from knowing that we’ve done a good job and are on the right track.

Encouraging someone is like giving them a gift!

The gift of encouragement is listed in Romans 12:8. The word used in this verse comes from the Greek word ‘parakletos’, which can mean to exhort, come alongside of, comfort or encourage.

Son of encouragement

The book of Acts tells us about a man called Joseph, a Levite who sold his land and generously donated all the proceeds to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37).

As a result, the apostles renamed him Barnabas, which means ‘son of encouragement’. The donation of Barnabas’ proceeds was indeed an encouragement to the apostles, but his encouragement went far beyond financial giving.

A noticeable trait of Barnabas, a prominent leader in the early Church, was his desire to seek out, encourage and assist others. He is known for his personal courage in bringing Saul (who was also known as Paul) to the apostles.

Having been a violent persecutor of Christians, Saul had a physically and spiritually sight-restoring conversion experience when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. The change in Saul was extraordinary as he began to speak boldly about Jesus wherever he went.

The disciples, however, were afraid of Saul, and found it hard to believe that he now followed Christ. Although many shrank from Saul in fear and confusion, Barnabas came forward and showed him great kindness. He stood between Saul and the apostles and — bridging the gap — testified on his behalf. Because of this, the believers eventually welcomed him.


Paul (his name change reflects his new identity) later wrote many of the books in the New Testament, including Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, etc, and spent his life proclaiming the risen Lord Jesus throughout the Roman world — often at great personal cost.

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. His kindness, generosity and forgiving nature helped to console and encourage many. His courage and humility, together with his ability to be openminded, helped him to see the treasure in Saul. It enabled Barnabas to come alongside, mentor, guide and release Paul into all that God had called him to be.

Hope has wings

The MAF family seeks to encourage people in all we do. Our vision of bringing help, hope and healing is done in the powerful name of Jesus.

The isolation, poverty and conflict that exist throughout the world can devastate peace and destroy hope. Can you image how frightening it must be to go into premature labour, living deep in the jungle and days away from a hospital?

MAF reaches those who are in need and provides care and attention. We also pray for our passengers as we transport them to places where they can get help. These acts of love bring encouragement and renew hope.

The faithful prayers and generous giving of our supporters make what we do possible. We are so encouraged by all the ongoing support we receive!

Be like Barnabas

As Christians, we are called to encourage others. The Passion translation of Romans 12:8 illustrates this beautifully: ‘If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others.’ Will you dare to be like Barnabas?

Some people are more comfortable encouraging others. They carry the ‘grace-gift’ we read about in Romans 12. For others, it can be a little more challenging.

It takes courage to look at someone and see the potential inside. It takes commitment to come alongside another person and journey with them. It needs optimism. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to leave it to someone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls ‘believers to encourage one another and build each other up.’ Challenging stuff…

Holy Spirit helper

But we need not fear. In John 14:16, Jesus tells the disciples shortly before His death that God will send another advocate to help us and be with us forever. The term used in the original text —‘paraclete’ – most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.

Barnabas was a man ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ and we too can ‘be like Barnabas’ and let the Spirit lead us: listening and watching for opportunities to encourage someone — whether in word or deed!

Please pray

  • Ask the Lord to help you be in tune with the Holy Spirit; giving you eyes to see, ears to hear and the opportunity to encourage someone today.
    • Pray continued blessing on the work of MAF and its partners. May we and our partners be an encouragement to those that we reach and serve, in Jesus’ precious name.

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