I was in Kos Island, Greece. It is about an hour flight from Athens. On road, it is about 16 hours. Driving out of Athens, there is a signpost pointing to Thessaloniki. The first time I saw that was magical. That was a city Apostle Paul had written in the Bible.
In Kos, the hotel I stayed was practically built on the Mediterranean Sea. I touched the waters and constructed in my mind the path of the Missionary Journey (I and II) by Paul. The more I look at the reality, the more I think about a Call to Mission.
Jesus hired 12 men for a mission. He trained them. He equipped them. Then, he left. Later, on the Day of Pentecost, He equipped them further. Largely, none of the disciples had a clear template for the call. It was in AD 69 when Roman General Titus was putting Jerusalem on ruins that the action began. Titus and Emperor Vespasian have destroyed the Ark of Covenant and demolished the Temple which Nehemiah had rebuilt (the Temple was originally built by King Solomon but was successively destroyed) around 5th century B.C.
With Jerusalem desolate, the work of the men began. They had to leave Jerusalem to live. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16:16) had prophesied this destruction many centuries ago.
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. (Jeremiah 16:16)
God later raised Theodor Herzl (the Father of Zionism) as the fisherman (he used the “bait” of giving Jews money to motivate them to return to Jerusalem). But he did not get the full mission accomplished. God sent Hitler who hunted Jews with guns. The state of Israel was born in 1948 as many returned home just as Jeremiah had prophesied.
Executing the Mission
As the disciples escaped Titus and Vespasian, some made it to Africa. Mathew was killed in Ethiopia with sword. Mark was tied to horses, dragged until he died in Alexandria, Egypt.
Luke was hanged in Greece. John was boiled in boiling oil which he survived. He was later sent to prison in the Island of Patmos. It was there, he wrote the book of Revelation. They later freed him. He served as the Bishop of Edessa (in modern Turkey). He died of natural cause – the only of all the disciples.
Peter was crucified upside down, in an x-shaped cross. The St. Peter’s Basilica is largely memorizing the tomb of Peter. For James, they threw him from the Pinnacle of the Temple (the same place where Satan had tempted Jesus). James survived the fall but they later beat him to death. James, the son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by Rome.
Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was flayed to death by a whip. He had preached in Asia but died in Armenia. Andrew died in Patras, Greece, crucified in an x-shaped cross. In India, Thomas was stabled with a spear. Jude died on arrows. Mathias who replaced Judas was stoned and beheaded.
Let me add Paul who though not a disciple was cardinal in the early decades of Christianity. He was beheaded by Emperor Nero in AD 67.
The disciples and indeed the Apostles practically executed the mission they were called. But I can assume that at the beginning none might have expected it the way it happened. From companies to nations, those that answer great missions typically shape everything. But sometimes they do pay severe personal penalties. At different levels, a Call to Mission requires extremely committed people. Even in your business, you must have that capacity to find and recruit people that can help you execute a great mission. You must prepare them. Equip them. And push them to come and get glory. Our Jesus has a great template on how to accomplish missions: build and prepare an extremely committed team.
The mistake most times is that a lot of people see the Bible as just a religious book or holy book; actually, no single book comes close to covering all facets of human endeavours as it did. From commerce to economics, government, governance, social justice, business ethics, customer service, national defence, art, finance, international diplomacy, education, health, engineering; just name them, you can get valuable insights in all these areas from the Bible.
It’s a life manual, not just for heavenly candidates, but for everyone who also wishes to be a great citizen of the world. To do well in business, it begins by assembling a great team, who is passionate and committed, and willing to take all the risks, to ensure that the company’s vision is brought to fruition. Obviously it’s not for small minded individuals, but men and women who have their eyes firmly fixed on the glory, and never on the immediate sufferings.
Ndubuisi, you just put your Sunday School knowledge to full display, it shows that you didn’t doze off when important classes were going on; fantastic! Nice insights, a great Sunday Tonic.