“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.”
– Acts 7:54-58 KJV
This is the account of the death of the church’s first martyr, Stephen. Leading up the event Stephen was brought before the sanhedrim council. He had been accused of blasphemy by men within the council. Stephen proceed to preach his defense to the man. Causing the men of the council to be convicted and enraged by what he had to say. The collaborated fury of the men against Stephen had reached its precipitous. Together, the men attacked Stephen took him outside the city and stoned him to dead.
At the end of the fifty-eighth verse it says, “and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Chaos, outrage, and murder are on stage where we find first mention of Saul in the Bible. Witnessing this chaotic event a young man was being exposed to the sheer hatred that opposed the apostles. No doubt Saul cheered on the escapade, as the angry mob threw stone after stone at Stephen. Something deep within Saul ignited, a burning fire of hostility. This cumulation of events set up Saul to become one of the most feared persecutors against the early church. Only a few verses later in Acts 8:3 the Bible says, “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” Yet, God had greater plans in mind for Saul. On the road to Damascus Saul has a life changing encounter with God. Saul’s name is changed to Paul and he goes on to become to become one of the greatest apostles. Paul goes on to signal handedly write over half the New Testament. The effects of Paul’s ministry and understanding are still being felt to this day; as his teachings are still being implemented by churches throughout the world.
We should never underestimate the power of a connection. Even the smallest act of kindness toward those around us can make a lasting impression on that person. Do not get discouraged when trying to share the message of the Bible with someone who’s completely biased. Sure, at times these can be emotionally draining and cause us to even question ourselves. In these moments and times are when we are to remember how God can minister through the smallest of things. Saul’s introduction to the Bible was through a murderous event. God can use you to introduce those around you and in your life to church and to the Bible. The key is being sensitive to God’s nudges. Never forget the power a connection or interaction can have.