Meanwhile, Saul continued to oppose the Lord's followers. He said they would be put to death. He went to the high priest.
He asked the priest for letters to the synagogues in Damascus. He wanted to find men and women who belonged to the Way of Jesus. The letters would allow him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
He fell to the ground. He heard a voice speak to him. "Saul! Saul!" the voice said. "Why are you opposing me?"
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus," he replied. "I am the one you are opposing.
Now get up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do."
The men traveling with Saul stood there. They weren't able to speak. They had heard the sound. But they didn't see anyone.
Saul got up from the ground. He opened his eyes, but he couldn't see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
For three days he was blind. He didn't eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a believer named Ananias. The Lord called out to him in a vision. "Ananias!" he said. "Yes, Lord," he answered.
The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. Ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying.
In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias. The man has come and placed his hands on him. Now he will be able to see again."
"Lord," Ananias answered, "I've heard many reports about this man. They say he has done great harm to God's people in Jerusalem.
Now he has come here to arrest all those who worship you. The chief priests have given him authority to do this."
But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! I have chosen this man to work for me. He will carry my name to those who aren't Jews and to their kings. He will bring my name to the people of Israel.
I will show him how much he must suffer for me."
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. He placed his hands on Saul. "Brother Saul," he said, "you saw the Lord Jesus. He appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He has sent me so that you will be able to see again. You will be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Right away something like scales fell from Saul's eyes. And he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
After eating some food, he got his strength back. Saul spent several days with the believers in Damascus.
At once he began to preach in the synagogues. He taught that Jesus is the Son of God.
All who heard him were amazed. They asked, "Isn't he the man who caused great trouble in Jerusalem for those who worship Jesus? Hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
But Saul grew more and more powerful. The Jews living in Damascus couldn't believe what was happening. Saul proved to them that Jesus is the Christ.
After many days, the Jews had a meeting. They planned to kill Saul.
But he learned about their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates closely in order to kill him.
But his followers helped him escape by night. They lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
When Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the believers. But they were all afraid of him. They didn't believe he was really one of Jesus' followers.
But Barnabas took him to the apostles. He told them about Saul's journey. He said that Saul had seen the Lord. He told how the Lord had spoken to Saul. Barnabas also said that Saul had preached without fear in Jesus' name in Damascus.
So Saul stayed with the believers. He moved about freely in Jerusalem. He spoke boldly in the Lord's name.
He talked and argued with Jews who followed Greek practices. But they tried to kill him.
The other believers heard about this. They took Saul down to Caesarea. From there they sent him off to Tarsus.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. The Holy Spirit gave the church strength and boldness. So they grew in numbers. And they worshiped the Lord.