In our study of Acts chapter eight, we see how God uses the persecution of His people to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Many times we may ask why God allows awful things to happen to His people. Here, we are reminded that God works in all things (even the persecution of His people) and He is still in control.
"And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison." NIV translation
We are told here that, on the day that Stephen was stoned, great persecution broke out against the church. We may ask ourselves why this happened but I believe that we can find the answer in the "churches" of today. You see, in many "churches" today, Christians have become comfortable and very few people are being told about Jesus. It is a natural tendency for us, as humans, in that we want to be in a place where we are liked and accepted. The same was true of the early Christians.
Without persecution, the early church would not have reached out to areas outside of Jerusalem. The people would have stayed where they could be surrounded by other Christians. God knows the heart of all of us and He knew that as well. If you look at the world today, the areas where the Kingdom is expanding at the fastest rate are the areas where the rate of persecution is also the highest.
"Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." NIV translation
You may have asked yourself why did God allow Saul to persecute the Christians in Jerusalem and drive them out. We get the answer in the verse above. You see, we as people can get comfortable in our surroundings and I am sure that it happened with the disciples in the early church. But God allowed them to be scattered and in so doing, the gospel was spread rapidly. We, like those early disciples, are called to preach the word wherever we go as well.