Barnabas, born Joseph, was one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem. He was given the name Barnabas when he sold all his possessions and gave the money to the apostles. His name means ‘son of consolation’ or ‘son of encouragement’.
Barnabas travelled with Paul across Asia Minor, preaching, healing and teaching about Jesus. His faith brought faith to many others and he believed in the power of the Gospel message to change people’s hearts. It seems it was in Barnabas’ nature to give people a second chance. It was he who brought Paul (who had been Saul, persecutor of Christians) to the apostles and explained how he had been converted and had preached boldly about Jesus in Damascus, because we are told of the disciples that: “They were all afraid of him, and didn’t believe that he really was a disciple.”
He also gave John Mark the benefit of the doubt and went on a second missionary journey with him, even though Mark had abandoned them during the first mission. This caused a split between Barnabas and Paul, who went his separate way with another apostle, Silas. Barnabas’ faith in and encouragement of both Paul and John Mark proved to be well founded, they both went on to spread the word of God and bring faith to many.
That St Barnabas was a famous missionary, gives us a clue as to why our church was named after him when it was built as the mission church for St Stephen’s in the 19th century. We celebrate his feast day on June 11th every year with a special service and a bring and share lunch for all our friends and family. As a church we hope that we can bring love, encouragement and consolation to all those that we meet, just as St Barnabas did.
Janet Sparke 2012