DESERTION AT PERGA (ACTS 13:13). When the ministry on Cyprus was finished, the missionary party set sail to Pamphylia in Asia Minor. When they reached the city of Perga, John Mark abandoned the party and returned home. No reason is given although many have been suggested. Whether it was due to homesickness, resentment of Paul’s elevation over his relative Barnabas, or disagreement over the policy of Gentile evangelization, cannot be determined. Paul himself regarded it as serious (Acts 15:38-39).
God’s work would be much simpler if it did not involve people. Howbeit, He chose weak, human, foolish, sinful, self-centered and fearful men and women to do it. Possibly, young Mark lacked the hunger for a deeper walk with God, the conviction of his faith, ministry skills, personal boldness, concern for others, a clear vision, a calling by God, a servant heart, or a spirit of cooperation. No matter what the reason, he missed the opportunity of a lifetime for on-the-job training and the missionary duo suffered its first setback.
Ironically, Paul imprisoned and deserted by all but Luke, near the end of his life, asked for Mark to come (2 Timothy 4:11). Years of living in God’s grace changed both men.
Paul and Barnabas functioned as a team. They were united in heart, vision, and purpose. The OT teaches: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1). Teamwork includes at least six elements exhibited by Paul and Barnabas:
1. An accepted leader
2. A common objective
3. A basic agreement on activities
4. A strong, God-given love and loyalty among team members
5. A certain division of labor within the team
6. A trust in one another