‘More Barneys Needed!’
was my Sunday focus headline. This confused the owner of a cat called Barney, who strongly believes ONE Barney is quite enough, thank you very much!

However, Barnabas was a key character and hero in the early Christian Church. His real name was Joseph, but his nickname Barney stuck. ‘Barnabas’ means ‘Son of Encouragement’, and this man’s attitude and approach to God and People is inspirational. Barney was ‘Generous’, noted for selling a field and gifting all its proceeds to God’s Work. He was ‘Including’, the one who overcame fear of imprisonment and martyrdom to welcome Saul (Paul) into the church family. He was ‘Involving’, travelling to Tarsus to bring Paul ‘back into the game’ to help grow the church in Antioch. And fourthly Barney was ‘Forgiving’, despite Paul falling out with him in a sharp disagreement about the reliability of John Mark, Barney was ever ready to reconcile with Paul and help him to see how valuable Mark was in their missionary work together.

‘Sons and daughters of encouragement’ are much needed today to grow generous, including, involving, and forgiving communities of faith, hope, and love. Will you open your heart and step-up to play your role in uniting and prospering people with servant hearted care, concern, and service? The way the (Irvine, 3 Towns, & Kilmarnock) Christians Against Poverty (CAP) team are including and involving others in their outreach work is marvellous! The way some people go out of their way to get alongside and encourage others in our churches, community centres, and other welcoming groups is tremendous!

You never know the ‘mark’ you will leave on those you encourage. Traditionally this ‘Mark’, who Barney never gave up on, is credited as author of the earliest Gospel in our Bibles! In fact, much of our New Testament comes from the pens of St Paul & St Mark, so we owe a lot to blessed Barney! Further, his example of humility, open heartedness, and readiness to follow Jesus’ Lead and Holy Spirit empowerment, continues to ‘encourage’ us today.

You’ve heard of Billy Graham, an evangelist who shared the Good News of Jesus with more than any other person in history, but do you know of his friend ‘Albert McMakin’, who invited Billy to the rally at which Billy committed his life to Christ? “Why don’t you come out and hear our fighting preacher and I’ll let you drive the truck to the meetings?” asked Albert, and the rest is history, with Billy converted and going onto introduce many more to the transforming love of Christ, including Queen Elizabeth II.

Yes, more Barneys please!