In 1912 William Borden, a graduate of Yale University, left one of America's greatest
family fortunes to be a missionary to China. He got as far as Egypt and died of cerebral
meningitis. He died--and was only in his 20s--but there was "no reserve, no retreat,
no regrets" in his consecration to God.
But, for me personally, being anything but a missionary would be second best. Perhaps a story I recall hearing years ago
explains it best. It seems the old Standard Oil Company offered an enormous sum of money to a missionary in China to work for
them, to help with the development of Standard Oil in China. The missionary turned them down. So they doubled the salary offer.
He turned them down again. They said, "What do you want? We can't give more money than
that.: He said, "The money doesn't have anything to do with it. The job is too small."
In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders writes, "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain
attempts to escape from the persistent ache...The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than
Sanders goes on the emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry
Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about.
Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he
was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding
fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow."
After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed,
"Lord, let me burn out for You." In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three
difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing "shadows."
Our Daily Bread, January 21, 1994.
John G. Paton, a missionary to the South Sea Islands, often lived in danger as he worked among the hostile aborigines who had
never heard the gospel. At one time three witch doctors, claiming to have the power to cause death, publicly declared
their intentions to kill Paton with their sorcery before the next
Sunday. To carry out their threat, they said they needed some food he had partially eaten. Paton asked for three plums. He
took a bite out of each and then gave them to the men who were plotting his death.
On Sunday, the missionary entered the village with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. The
people looked at each other in amazement, thinking it couldn't possibly be Paton. Their "sacred men" admitted that they had
tried by all their incantations to kill him. When asked why they
had failed, they replied that the missionary was a sacred man like themselves, but that his God was stronger than theirs. From
then on Paton's influence grew, and soon he had the joy of leading some of the villagers to the Lord.
Sometimes marriage to a great leader comes with a special price for his wife. Such was the case for Mary Moffatt
Livingstone, wife of Dr. David Livingstone, perhaps the most celebrated missionary in the Western world. Mary was born in Africa as the
daughter of Robert Moffatt, the missionary who inspired
Livingstone to go to Africa. The Livingstones were married in Africa in 1845, but the years that followed were difficult for
Mary. Finally, she and their six children returned to England so she could recuperate as Livingstone plunged deeper into the
African interior. Unfortunately, even in England Mary lived in
near poverty. The hardships and long separations took their toll on Mrs.
Livingstone, who died when she was just forty-two.
Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 12.
Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled
in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the
water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at
the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she
stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six
month old baby to his watery death.
Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the
Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably
and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was
Through her sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins
are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born
son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently
began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven.
She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied
through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my
child would not have had to die."
Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the
River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away.
For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there
aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field.
Christianity Today, 1993.