Let us run

We just finished reading Missionary Stories from Around the World with our kids.
It was eye-opening and inspiring for all of us!

It’s easy to assume those pioneer missionaries didn’t struggle– That they had some superpower-faith to take on the world, and were never discouraged. That each day was filled with such significant kingdom work, there’s NO WAY they ever washed dishes or laundry, changed diapers or mopped. That they left such an impact, because they were the “strong ones.” Honestly, I forget they were real. people!! Real people whose surrendered lives birthed extraordinary movements. But, how much of their days were filled with a million ordinary, mundane, and sometimes, intensely difficult moments

** Jim & Elisabeth Elliot: Jim was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Jim didn’t even make it into the tribe. After his murder, Elisabeth spent 2 years in the tribe. But, God used it all to reach this savage people group, and inspire countless others to missions.

We can read the books to learn what it must have been like for his wife– widowed mother of a small child. It’s not an easy task to learn another language, whole ‘nother way of doing things. Let alone to reach the very people who murdered your husband! Their lives exemplified their words– “he is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
How many times were they told what they were doing was “foolish”… Did they ever second-guess if it was or not? 

** William Carey: “father of modern missions”– served in India for 41 years (without furlough!), translated the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages.

Abandoned his pregnant wife and two little children to go to India. Eventually she joined him, but her unhappiness there eventually turned bitter resentment. Poverty, illness, and loneliness took its toll. She suffered from delusions, and eventually died. He sent his kids back to England and kept going in India. Whether or not we agree with the toll his ambition took on his home life, there is NO doubt the Lord used William Carey.
But, I wonder how many days he was tempted to give up…

** David Brainerd: missionary to the Native Americans– his journal, edited and published by Jonathan Edwards, has inspired countless over the years (including William Carey and Jim Elliot).

His diary reveals how hard his ministry was, especially suffering from tuberculosis. But also, he dealt with many other discomforts– sleeping on straw, living in a wigwam, and riding full days through the rain. Which I imagine was even more so difficult after growing up in a prominent, wealthy family. He struggled with depression and loneliness. Though he had made friends among the Indians, he longed for a soul mate. He shares repeatedly his longing for death as a way to escape his depression. At the young age of 29, he died of tuberculosis. His mission only lasted 3 years. 3 years, you guys!!! In fact, if he had given up after 2 years, it’s said that he may not have had such a great impact, because it wasn’t until his 3rd year that his ministry showed much fruit.
How many nights did the disappointments of this life weigh heavily on his mind, with no one to share them with?

** Adoniram Judson1st missionary sent out from the US. The church wasn’t theologically convinced that they were to be sending missionaries– Judson paved the way, served in Burma for almost 40 years, translated the whole Bible into Burmese and established a number of churches.

When he entered Burma in 1813, it was a completely hostile, unreached country– ALL the previous missionaries there had died or left. William Carey even told Judson NOT to go there. Adoniram and Ann went through many hard times in Burma– Ann suffered from smallpox and spinal meningitis, two of their babies died, and they both were imprisoned (not to mention the poor food and unbearable heat). Took him 12 years to see his first converts! But when he died, there were 7,000 baptized believers, 63 Christian congregations and 163 missionaries in Burma!!
Do you think he ever watched his wife suffer and just wanted to quit and go home?

** J. Hudson Taylorfounder of the China Inland Mission. He changed our thinking about missions– that we should become like them rather than “them” needing to become like us. He wasn’t trying to “civilize” the heathens, but deliver the Gospel message in their context.

His 1st journey to China took half a year, by boat. At first, he was not accepted by many Chinese who viewed him with suspicion as a foreigner. {Hence, adopting Chinese clothing and hairstyles.} The Taylors had their share of hardships as well– 5 of their 9 children died, his medical supplies were destroyed in a fire, and was robbed of nearly everything he had. At one point, due to his own health problems, he returned to England to rest and recover. Taylor battled severe depression all his life. He says, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” His 51 years of serving in China may be done, but missions was forever impacted by his faithfulness, despite the frustrations.
He gave his all to follow God; in the midst of all those hardships, did he ever think “why me?”

** Amy Carmichael: opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur– served in India for 55 years and wrote many books.

She suffered from neuralgia, a disease that stimulates the nerves to feel pain and caused her to have to spend entire weeks in bed. Perhaps even harder than her physical suffering was her overwhelming grief and sorrow when she would lose a child she thought she had rescued. Despite the difficulties of her life, the books Amy has written have been such an inspiration, a callig to deeper love and communion with our Savior.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
But what about the times when the isolation, the loneliness, the pain was more than she could bear?

We love the legacy they left, but we forget the cost.
I wish it hadn’t been so hard for them. But I find such comfort in their stories, courage in their example. Because reality is… missions is hard!! Ask any missionary– isolation, troubles, weariness, loneliness, anxiety, sickness, rejection, temptations, discouragement, transition, unknowns– come and go.

But, this!!!!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
{Hebrews 12:1-3}

Fix your eyes on Jesus, come what may…

Isolated… Fix your eyes on the One who never leaves.
{Hebrews 13:5-6}
Troubled… Fix your eyes on the One who overcame.
{John 16:33}
Weary… Fix your eyes on the One who will give you rest.
{Matthew 11:28}
Lonely… Fix your eyes on the One who, surely, is with you always.
{Matthew 28:20}
Anxious… Fix your eyes on the One who cares.
{1 Peter 5:7}
Sick… Fix your eyes on the One who heals.
{Malachi 4:2}
Rejected… Fix your eyes on the One who will never forsake.
{Psalm 94:14}
Tempted… Fix your eyes on the One who was too.
{Hebrews 4:15}
Discouraged… Fix your eyes on the One whose love makes us more than conquerors. {Romans 8:37}
Transitioning… Fix your eyes on the One who is our refuge.
{Psalm 62:8}
Unknowns… Fix your eyes on the One who knows.
{Psalm 32:8}

SO THAT you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We don’t know what the future holds. Some paths have more bumps and bends than others. Ours certainly has!! SO, I’m thankful for the reminder that it’s not about comparing our paths with others’, but about fixing our eyes on the One who marked out our race.

ALSO, never underestimate those ordinary, mundane, and sometimes, intensely difficult moments… because the God we serve doesn’t necessarily operate as we would imagine. We see “just” 5 loaves and 2 fish. But Jesus multiplies that simple offering to feed the masses, all because a boy was willing to step forward and offer what he had.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.

{1 Corinthians 2:9}

So, let us run!

 

There’s NO way I could remember all the deets of those stories, so props to these guys:

  1. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-36/william-carey-gallery-of-missionary-pioneers.html
  2. https://urbana.org/blog/21-missionaries-you-should-know
  3. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-few-there-are-who-die-so-hard
  4. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-90/man-who-gave-bible-to-burmese.html
  5. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-52/hudson-taylor-missions-to-china-did-you-know.html
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