One afternoon a good man, Cornelius, knelt in prayer in his room. Although he was not Jewish, he believed in God and prayed often. Suddenly an angel stood in back of him. Cornelius was frightened. “What do you want?” he whispered.
“God has heard your prayers,” the angel said kindly. “And God wants you to send some men to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. Ask him to come and visit you.” Then the angel disappeared. Cornelius immediately obeyed.
The next day, as Cornelius’s servants neared Joppa, Peter climbed to the flat rooftop of the house where he was staying. Peter was hungry. He decided to pray until it was time to eat. While Peter was praying, he had a vision. He saw a big sheet coming down from heaven, filled with all kinds of animals and birds. A voice said, “Kill the animals and eat them, Peter.”
“I can’t do that, Lord!” Peter exclaimed. “I have never eaten unclean food.”
Peter heard the voice again. “God has made these things clean. Don’t call them unclean.”
Peter saw the same vision two more times, and he was puzzled. Then the Holy Spirit interrupted his thoughts. “Three men are downstairs looking for you. Go with them. I have sent them to you.”
Peter went right downstairs and met Cornelius’s three messengers. “I am the man you want,” he said.
So the next day Peter, some friends, and the messengers journeyed to Cornelius’s house. As he walked, Peter thought about his vision. He finally understood what it meant.
When they arrived, they found a house full of people. Peter said to Cornelius, “God has shown me that He loves all people. And He has sent me to tell you the good news about Jesus.”
Peter then taught the people everything he knew about Jesus. And they believed. As Peter was talking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all the people, and they began to praise God loudly. Cornelius, his family, and his friends were soon baptized.
Peter had learned something very important: God loves everybody, no matter what language they speak or what color their skin is or where they live. And that is what God wants us to know and do too.