The church progressed and an increasing number of widows were being fed, as they turned to Christ and had little other option for being supported but the church. The Gentile widows were the minority group and were not being taken care of as well as the Jewish widows. The Gentile widows experienced being marginalized in receiving food and care, as they were the minority group.
The Apostles devised a plan to add a group of seven men who would help provide ministry to these ladies who were vulnerable in the local church. In Acts 6:5-6, this event took place, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”
In this case, the Gentiles were the minority group in the church. The qualifications of these men had to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. So, out of all the men full of the Holy Spirit & wisdom, the leadership & church chose seven. But it is no accident that all seven of these men chosen were Gentiles. That is right, the Apostles directed the leaders to be spiritually qualified, but appointed those in the minority group to serve all the positions. The growing trend in that early church was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.
After Stephen’s execution at the hands of some of the religious leaders, a persecution arose led by Saul. Many Christians left Jerusalem because of it. One of those was Phillip. He was taken to a road that ran from Jerusalem to North Africa. On that road happened to be a powerful leader from the royal court of the Candace (female emperor) of Ethiopia. Phillip led the man to the Lord, and then in Acts 8:38-39, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”
The Eunuch returned to Ethiopia, in Northern Africa, and carried the Gospel with him. Many believe this was one of the first churches in history outside Jerusalem and the Judea region. Phillip was from the Middle East and the Ethiopian was from northeast Africa, but they both carried the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.
In Acts 10 the Apostle Peter was commanded to eat Gentile food, so he could sit down at a table with a group of people he had grown up despising. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.
In Acts 13:1 the leadership is listed in the church in Antioch. There were five leaders, and they were: Barnabas (a brown skinned, Jewish, Caribbean), Simeon “called Niger (as in Nigeria, i.e. black), Lucius of Cyrene (North Africa in modern day Libya), Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch (a light skinned European), and Saul (a Jewish Israeli). Out of this group would come the greatest missions effort in history. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.