But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 1 Corinthians 16:8-9
The Apostle Paul was always focused on opportunity. Yet he was a realist who knew the opposition he faced from the enemy of our souls. He expresses here an interest in visiting the Corinthian Church for a significant period of time. But it would not be until after Pentecost because of great open doors for effective work in spite of much opposition. In doing kingdom work we should always expect opposition but that should not blind us to the great opportunities.
A young pastor in the southern Philippines who attended a Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) seminar, shares his personal experiences with this principle:
“The SSTS taught me a lot of things. First, it taught me to stand firm in the Lord during tough times. Second, it taught me to establish my relationship with God and not to focus on difficulties. Third, it taught me to lead my whole family to serve and obey God even though hardship and persecution come. And also it taught me to continue on with the ministry, even if others abandon us.
“My wife and I were newlyweds and fresh graduates of a Bible school when God called us to start a work among the Muslims. We were afraid of them and did not know how to minister to them. Open Doors gave us books on how to love the Muslims. In one community we started literacy classes among the children.
“But the more we grew in our desire to obey God, the more our faith was tested. In 2004, I was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer. But my sickness did not stop the Lord in accomplishing His purpose for our lives. In 2008, He led us to permanently settle in a place where most Christians dared not go. As we obeyed God, we experienced His great power—that same year, my doctor told me that I was cancer free!
“The Lord also paved the way for us to reach one Muslim tribe through an adult literacy project. We built relationships with our students and eventually shared the gospel with them. We seized every opportunity to help them with their needs, more so with their relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I would say that the biggest test of our faith was not when I got sick, but when our sending church abandoned us and cut our support. I felt alone, but God sustained me and my family.
“The Lord is continuously opening more opportunities for us to minister to our Muslim brothers. Right now, with Open Doors’ help, we are holding literacy classes among the three Muslim tribes in our area. We are also distributing the JESUS film when there is any opportunity to do so.”
RESPONSE: Today I will not allow opposition to blind me to the opportunities of service God provides.
PRAYER: Lord, give me strength to walk through open doors of effective work in the face of opposes.