Stephen: A Marketplace Minister
"Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people (Acts 6:8-9).
In the beginnings of the early church, the disciples were seeing God move in mighty ways. The disciples found themselves preaching the word of God all over the region. However, there became practical needs that arose among the people that the disciples were tending to. However, due to their preaching, these needs were not being met adequately. One of these needs involved food distribution to widows. There became an issue as to whether the needs of all the widows were being cared for. This brought pressure upon the disciples who felt their primary focus must be to preach the gospel. They now realized they could not do both adequately. This led them to appoint seven men whose lives qualified for service as leaders to serve these needs.
The first man named to fill this responsibility was Stephen, described as a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost; with a strong faith in Christ. He was full of courage, gifts and graces. He was an extraordinary man, and excelled in every thing that was good; his name signified a crown.
This was a time when the church began mobilizing other marketplace believers for ministry in the community. Stephen was the first chosen and interestingly, became the first martyred believer. One of the most interesting things one can notice when the disciples took this action is described in these passages. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). It is as though the Lord took the cap off and everything started happening. Even a large number of priests came into the faith.
Take an inventory of your life today and determine if someone could describe your life as a person "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power, and one who does great wonders and miraculous things." If not, begin asking God today to accomplish this in your life.