The Apostle Paul is one of the key figures in the growth of Christianity from simply a splinter-Jewish group to the largest religion in the world today. How could one man make such a difference?
What's even more bizarre is that Paul was a Hellenistic Jew (named Saul), trained as a Pharisee, who hated the Christians and even led the early assaults in Jerusalem against them. He was a witness to the murder of St. Stephen and was considered one of the biggest anti-Christian's in Israel. Not satisfied with his "threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" in Jerusalem, he attainted letters from the High Priests to go to the synagogues in Damascus to search for any members of the Way (Christians). On the road to Damascus he had a personal interaction with Jesus that changed his life forever.
Acts 9:3-9:9 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" He asked, "Who are you Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
First we need to understand that the original persecution following the stoning of St. Stephen was according to God's plan. The Christians of Jerusalem had to be broken up to spread into the rest of the middle east. The communal life style of their first few years was set up to await His coming, and did not really go forth to preach the Good News to all the Earth. The persecution led by Paul caused many Christians to spread into Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and soon the rest of the Roman Empire.
Second, we need to know that Saul was a Godly man, who was devout in his Hebraic studies, and lived as a Pharisee. He was attacking the Christians because he believed they had blasphemed the Lord of Abraham, and the laws of Moses. God knew his heart, and that is why he chose Saul to become his instrument on Earth to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles and to help start the early Church.
Third, as devoted as he was as a Pharisee, he was just as devoted to the Lord following his conversion, if not more so.
Time and again in the Bible we learn that God chooses those whom we would not. Moses suffered from a speech impediment, David from Lust, and Saul the Christian hating Pharisee!
He can use anyone! He can use you!
Will you answer the call?
Will you stand for Jesus?