From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. (NIV) Acts 16:11-15
Paul and his team travel about 150 miles from Troas to Neapolis, the port of Philippi. The journey took them 2 days. Once they landed in Neapolis they traveled northwest, approximately 10 miles, inland to Philippi. After several days, Paul and his fellow workers go outside the city to the Gangites River. At the river they meet a number of women who had gathered for prayer. The women welcome the men and Lydia’s life changes.
Luke, the author of Acts, writes that Lydia was originally from Thyatira, a city located in western Asia Minor. She had taken up residence in Philippi. She was a businesswoman who sold purple cloth. Most likely, Lydia was a wealthy woman. “The purple dye applied to fine linen was obtained from the secretion of shellfish (mollusks) that live in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.’Since approximately eight thousand molluscs were required to produce one gram of purple dye, purple cloth was extremely expensive.’ Purple garments were worn by emperors and by private citizens as a status symbol. . .We conclude, then, that Lydia belonged to the class of wealthy merchants and was the owner of a large house.” (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. New Testament commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles.)
God had been preparing Lydia’s heart. She was a “God-fearer,” a Gentile that believed in the Jew’s God. When she heard Paul share the Gospel, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. God knew that Lydia was one of His children. And He knew that Paul was His messenger to share His Word with her. Lydia’s life was eternally changed!
Today, we are surrounded by people who claim to be religious or spiritual or perhaps even, “God-fearers.” God knows who needs to hear His Word. . .He knows where they are right now. . .He knows when Truth will become more than an idea to them. . .and, He knows who His messenger of the Gospel will be. Yes, God still uses ordinary people like you and me to be His missionaries, His messengers of Good News!
Are you watching for the “God-fearers” (those who are remarkably receptive to God) in your life? They may not know His Name or who salvation comes through, but they are searching for meaning and purpose in life. Please take a few moments right now to stop, to pray, and to ask God to show you who around you is searching for Him. Then, meet them at the “river” and share His hope of salvation!