At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done (Acts 8:1-13).
We find a scattered church in Acts 8. A revival had brought the church from 120 people to thousands. This drew persecution which caused the church to grow even more. We see this in places like China today. The persecution in Acts 8 got so bad that the people had to scatter. But it was all in God’s plan. He wasn’t surprised. He used this scattering to put people into cities and towns in strategic ways. People like Philip, a deacon, who was on fire for God. He is an example of an everyday Christian who transformed a city for Jesus.
Philip came into this city and had an immediate impact. Unlike the watered down religions the city had experienced before, Philip brought an active, miracle-believe faith in this Samaritan city. Philip lived what he believed. He believed in Jesus who works to heal and deliver people today. He lived and talked about and acted on the faith in the risen Christ. People believed what Philip said and did because they saw Jesus in action.
It’s hard for people to believe in Jesus when they’ve not seen or recognized His work. Jesus awaits a people like Philip who will do more than just talk about Him. Jesus is looking for people that will walk into cities like this one in Samaria and show the world what He looks like today. Philip walked in the curse breaking power of Jesus and delivered and healed those that needed it. This brought joy to the city. Why? Freedom from bondage and oppression brings joy to our souls. Cities deprived of God’s presence are full of sadness and depression. They try to fill the void in their lives with other spiritual idols, entertainment, and lofty human ideals. But when the light of Christ comes, freedom comes with it. The deep longing of the heart and soul are met, and the chains of bondage start to fall off.