I can drive to Paphos. Not exactly something I thought I would find myself saying. It’s not one of those Biblical places like Jerusalem or Bethlehem that “everyone knows,” but it’s also not hard to find in the Bible. Cyprus is the first place that Paul went on his missionary journies. You know, the journies that we study today through the book of Acts and his letters to churches around the region. He set sail to the city of Salamis, now an ancient ruin. I’ve stood on the beach his boat would have arrived on. The 9 verses in Acts 13 contain his journey across the island that I can make in a few hours by car. It’s strange to think about that sometimes, I can literally drive where Paul would have walked himself to bring the Gospel here.
We can look at those stories and be in awe of the early church movement. Significant figures were driven to faith from what they saw and heard thousands of years ago. “When he saw what happened, the proconsul [of Paphos] believed, because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” Acts 13:12 This story is amazing to me! This government official wanted to know about God, but he was surrounded by people telling half-truths and even lies. It was the Holy Spirit working through Paul that opened his eyes to the miracles of God. He was astonished!
Across the Cyprus landscape, you will find Orthodox churches standing testament to those first steps of faith, but when you look closer to the island, you see that same faith being conquered, abused, lied to, and faded. Our work is never finished. In too many places, like Cyprus and around this region, the name of Jesus represents tradition and little else.
The proncosul made a decision of faith because he was astonished by God. There are people all around us waiting to be astonished, with no idea that the truth of Jesus Christ is not just the history of this island, but the truth working to change their hearts today.