Acts 16:9-15 (NRSV)
Verse 9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Verse 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. Verse 11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, Verse 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. Verse 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. Verse 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. Verse 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.
For ten years we lived in Nigeria and South Africa. The people there have taught us about living from the perspective of “we”, not “me,” according to the concept of “ubuntu” (I am because we are). It thus seems significant to note in verse ten of our reading a telling pronoun shift from “they” and “he” to “we”. The writer no longer is seeing the events as someone else’s story, but as shared reality.
We do well to read this (and other) biblical texts with African eyes, and see this shared news of outreach with God’s message to new, alien, or challenging places as part of our story. Let us use our insights into culture’s customs, gatherings, and communications as we share God’s news with the poor, the mighty, all genders, ages, and social ranks. We proclaim with Paul and Lydia, Dorcas and Luke the news of God’s self-sacrificing love for us all—recognizing that God’s mission of love is our mission too.
Thank You, awesome Lord, for sharing your love of all with us. Use us to bring the news of your love for all people so everyone can be your “we” all over the globe. Amen.