By Rev. Adauto Rezende
In the Scriptures, God changed the names of many individuals, including Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Paul, among others. The primary reason for this was to reveal His purpose in the lives of His servants, as well as to confirm His call and anointing upon them. For instance, when Abram and Sarai were old, they received new names in order to become fertile and give birth to their son Isaac. Similarly, when God wanted to address Jacob's character, He gave him a new name, Israel, which means "the one who wrestles with God." In the case of Saul of Tarsus, God changed his name to Paul, which was derived from the Roman family name Paulus and meant "small" or "humble" in Latin.
Sometimes the Scriptures reveal someone's character through their name. About sixteen years ago, I met a missionary in Canada who had spent most of her life in my country. She served Christ in Brazil for fifty years, becoming a mother to dozens of boys from dysfunctional families, raising five children of her own, and being a blessing to her husband and pastor, Andy Lawrance. We became great friends and a couple whom we deeply respect for their Christ-like character. In the past six years, the Lord called her to a new mission field, a retirement home. Every time we visited her, we could see that she knew exactly why God sent her there. The first reason was to intercede. She would see and hear the pain, sorrow, struggles, and challenges of the staff and residents, taking them to heart and then bringing them to the Lord in prayer as part of her daily routine. Before our mission trips, I used to share my concerns and plans with her and her husband, and they always provided a word of knowledge and the assurance that my wife and I could count on their intercessions. I remember once visiting her when a young man came into her room to do some work. She stopped our conversation and, with a beautiful smile, told the fellow, "You have such a nice shirt. It is just perfect for you." Her gracious words built up the man's self-esteem, and after thanking her for the compliment, he left the room with a glowing face. At that moment, I knew she had made his day! She would perform such acts of kindness out of compassion and respect for people, no matter who they were.
Sometime later, our friend got a new roommate - a cheerful, skinny lady who didn't speak any English but always made an effort to communicate with us. At first, I thought she was Albanian, but then I heard someone say she was Syrian. To this day, I still don't know her nationality. As time went on, this woman grew fond of our friend, despite the language barrier. During one of my visits, the lady saw me in the hallway and exclaimed, "Sophia, Sophia!" I didn't understand what she meant, so I greeted her and went to see my friend. Eventually, every time I visited, this sweet woman would greet me with the same words, "Sophia, Sophia!" I asked the missionary why her roommate kept repeating that name, but she didn't know either. Finally, during another visit, she looked at my friend and said, "Sophia good! Sophia good!" That's when I realized that Sophia was my friend. It was always a wonderful blessing for my wife and me to see that little woman running up to us to say just those two words.
"Without saying a word, our missionary friend demonstrated God's love to that foreign elderly lady. On April 24th, 2020, after completing her mission on this earth, the Lord called our friend Sylvia Lawrance home. It was a significant loss for all of us, including her foreign roommate.
A few days ago, during my morning devotions, the woman's words came to mind. I wondered why she would call my friend by that name. I concluded that it was the Lord who used that lady to reveal the character of His servant. Why? Let's examine the definition of the term Sophia. It is the Greek word for wisdom, from which we have the word Philosophy that means "love of wisdom." In Jewish literature, the word Sophia was used to refer to the Wisdom of God. Here are some examples of the word in the Bible:"
Jesus as a teenager grew in σοφίᾳ Sophia
• “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2: 52
The scripture also refers to Steve, the first Christian martyr, as a man who possessed σοφία (sophia).
• “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” Acts 6: 10
James shared the characteristics of divine Σοφία Sophia:
• “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3: 17
Our friend Sylvia truly showed us, why God gave her the new name, Sophia. She was peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
My great friend Andy Lawrance, family and friends, rejoice for Sophia had finished the race and is in glory!
To Jesus all the glory!