In Acts 8:26-39, we find the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. As the story goes, “there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure” who “had come to Jerusalem to worship.” As a eunuch, he would have been excluded from temple worship according to the law (Deuteronomy 23:1), but even so he had come to Jerusalem for the purpose of worshiping.
On his return trip to Ethiopia, he continued his studies, reading from the book of Isaiah, when Philip appeared and explained the passage and shared the good news with him. The eunuch, on seeing water along the way, asks, “What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip baptizes him and disappears by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Ethiopian eunuch continues on his way, rejoicing, presumably bringing the message of Christ to Ethiopia, which adopted Christianity as it’s official religion only 300 years later.
The Ethiopian Eunuch offers a unique example of perseverance. He was seeking God and had made his way to Jerusalem (a journey of more than 2,100 miles and several weeks) to worship where according to the law he would be denied access (as a Gentile and as a eunuch). As he returns home to Ethiopia, he continues his pursuit of God, reading the prophecy of the Messiah in the book of Isaiah (which would have cost him a small fortune), though he had no one to explain it to him. Philip appears, explains, and baptizes him before disappearing again, and yet, rather than doubt, the eunuch is joyful and carries God’s message back to his people.
In spite of obstacles, he persevered and for 1,800 years the Christian Church thrived in his country. May we persevere, like the Ethiopian eunuch, in our pursuit of Christ and the sharing of our faith, as we are encouraged to do in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”