The first time Barnabas shows up in the Bible he’s a giving man, selling a piece of land and placing all the monies at the total disposal and discretion of the Apostles. His given name is Joseph, he’s from the Israelite tribe of Levi. The Levites were servants of the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the defeat and dispersion of Israel , the Jews worshiped God in local synagogues wherever they lived. Joseph was so special to the Apostles that they gave him the new name of Barnabas, ‘the Son of Encouragement’! He was from Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea off of what is today Turkey, a place of mixed religions and peoples, an island with a very ancient history. I hope you’ve now read from Acts 9 to find out more about Barnabas, for this is where he shows up next in the Bible. To set the stage a bit, a ferocious enemy and persecutor of the early church, a man named Saul, has had a rather dramatic conversion experience.That’s an understatement! Now, he’s speaking out and preaching about the Risen Lord Jesus, the Messiah! Not against, but for. Not an enemy, but a brother in Christ? What, are you crazy? Talk about the ultimate con trick. Infiltrating our small group of believers from the inside to finish us off. We must be so careful. We were warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. And now Saul is one of us? Yeah, right! He wants to reduce us to maybe one! And now the report is that he’s in Jerusalem looking to join us, to be one of us. Oh, the fear and trembling going on. Lord, deliver us from the likes of this Saul of Tarsus. Help…help…help! We just can’t believe it. Can we blame these early Christians? No, certainly not. I’m sure I’d be with them. But one of them, a man of courage, good old Barnabas, steps forward, trusting in the Lord no matter what, and goes to Saul. The Bible says that Barnabas brought Saul to the Apostles telling them all about that dramatic encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus, where Saul was blinded and actually talked with the Risen Lord Jesus, who told Saul all about the godly plans Jesus had for him in the future, and how Saul, the persecutor was now Saul the preacher. And how Saul’s life was now in danger from the very people he was one of just a short time ago. Did you notice something about Barnabas? Something special? A quality in him, this Son of Encouragement? How did he know all this about Saul? No e-mails or tweets or snail-mail in those days. No, Barnabas actually listened to Saul. He was interested in what had happened to him. He was genuine, he cared, he desperately wanted to know all about this man Saul and what had happened to him on that Road to Damascus. Barnabas listened… and what an encouragement that can be. What a gift you can give someone today. Just to listen, just to care, just to hear their hearts and minds. Doesn’t happen very often in life does it? Could happen today and it could happen from you and me, to be an encouragement to some one today! Hear their story…hold back yours. That was Barnabas…but there’s more!