11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 
What’s striking about this passage to me today is the spread of the church into Antioch through the work of anonymous persecution refugees. As pointed out in 19-20, these men had been scattered by the Saul’s persecution and had ended up in Antioch where they began to preach and teach. The Lord was with them and they reaped a big harvest. Antioch then goes on to become the real center for the Gentile mission, the place from which Paul and Barnabas and others will be sent on their missionary journeys.
We know the names of some of the important early missionaries – Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, etc. But there are countless others who, although known to God, are unknown to us. And there’s an important point here. This incredibly important work of the early church, establishing Antioch as a mission base, wasn’t done by the Peter, Paul or any of the apostles. It was done by ordinary people who had experienced great loss and hardship.
This is important to note even today. The most important work of the church’s mission isn’t done by pastors or other official leaders. It’s ordinary people in everyday life, witnessing and living their faith in whatever circumstances come their way.
My prayer today is that just as the Lord’s hand was with the people who ended up in Antioch, that the Lord’s hand would be with each of us today, carrying out His work through ordinary people.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
To subscribe to Abide Daily Devotion e-mail please click here.
 The New International Version. 2011 (Ac 11:11–24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.