eople are interested in people and like to hear their stories. The lives of great people are worth remembering, researching and retelling. Hence, biographies have flourished both in historical and literary forms throughout the past. Thomas Carlyle, the renowned Scottish historian and essayist of the 19th century, states, “History is the essence of innumerable biographies.” While the mid-18th century is remarked as the golden age of biography and the early 19th century as the age of personality, the fascination with individual lives has continued into the early 21st century, providing material for discussion and study. In the history of Christianity, there is often an admiration for missionary biographies. The stories of men and women who gave their lives for missionary work in some foreign land seldom fail to invigorate Christians. Ruth A Tucker, the famous missionary biographer, writes, “Biography and missions go hand in hand— especially in the modern era of inter-cultural mission outreach. The writing of missionary biography and autobiography is more than simply the writing of a life. It is the story of what God has done through a life—and just any life. It is a life of an individual who more often than not was swimming against the current and taking risks and enduring hardships—but most of all, encountering adventure.”
My personal interest in biographies goes back to my childhood days. One of the first non-textual books I read was a short biography of David Livingston, the great missionary to Africa. Since then, I have always been intrigued by the lives of missionaries. In this issue of soul connect, we present you some selected stories from the past with the hope that they may inspire us to serve Jesus Christ and his mission with a renewed zeal.
Sam K John Editor-in-Chief email@example.com
This magazine exists to inspire its
readers to live for Christ and His kingdom. It seeks to apply the Word of God to contemporary issues Christians face in their day-to-day life. Also, it aims at instilling a passion for world missions. Contents copyright©2015 by Kingdom Friends Network. All information is published in good faith. The publisher and the editors are not liable for inaccuracies. Publishing of any item does not reflect the official stand of the magazine.
Kingdom Friends Network #7 Shalom, Eden Rock Layout Byrathy, Doddagubbi Post Bangalore 560077 www.kingdomfriends.net firstname.lastname@example.org
How to receive the magazine:
SOUL CONNECT is published quarterly. If you would like to receive a printed copy by post, please send us your postal address. For the online version, please visit our website. This magazine is financially sustained by freewill contributions. If you would like to contribute, please write to us. email@example.com
Sam K John Sakthivel Sundaresan Shibu K Mathew Ashwin Ramani Nalini Parmar Sheeba Sam Images:
Design & Layout: Joshua Sikhamani
Will you be one like them?
Aquila & Priscilla
Sam K John
Sam Jones Cherian
Sam K John
Missionary Chronicles from the past
The Story of the Bible
The Mastermind of Modern India
Over my dead body
Why should I fear?
Read Christian Biography
Let there be India!
The heavens declare it
Shibu K Mathew
Book Review by Shobana Nelson
History Makers blog
History Makers blog
Will you be one like them? Sam K John
“What’s your ambition in life?” I’m sure all of us have faced this question at least once in our lifetime, perhaps during childhood or teenage. It doesn’t matter what you answered then; it is a question worth pondering over any day of your life. What do you live for? What do you hope for? The sad reality is that many of us do not even have a purpose to live for. We just exist. Life just goes on. The Apostle Paul was a man with a mission. He had a definite understanding of what he was called to do in life by God. And he pursued his life’s purpose with passion and perseverance till the end. In his moving farewell speech to the elders of the Ephesian church, Paul reveals his one and only aim in life. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, esv)
The Power of the Gospel Paul was very well aware of the power of “the gospel of the grace of God” to transform the lives of people (1Cor. 1:18). His own life was a testimony to this life-changing power of God’s grace (1Tim.1:13–16). Hence, he firmly believed that the gospel is what the world needs for transformation. Likewise, Paul knew that he had been
entrusted with this gospel and God was counting on him to pass on this grace to others (1Tim.1:11–12). No wonder he cried, “Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel” (1Cor. 9:16). What can we learn from Paul? 1 The gospel has the power to transform individuals, communities and nations. 2 All those who have been transformed by the power of the gospel have a solemn responsibility to share it with others who need it. The world needs to hear the good news of the grace of God. There are people all around us living under bondage, superstition, exploitation, utter poverty, fear, injustice, so on and so forth... waiting for the gospel to deliver them. And they are crying out, “Come over and help us.” Do we hear those cries? Paul heard it and immediately responded (Acts 16:9). The question is, do we hold back the good news to ourselves or release it? (2Kings 7:3–9) A veteran missionary once stood before the general assembly of the Scottish Presbyterian Church to make an appeal for missionary work in India. But there was no response. In the midst of his appeal he fainted and was carried away by a doctor. When he opened his eyes, he cried, “Where am I? Where am I?” The doctor said, “Lie still. You just had a heart attack.” The missionary shot back, “I haven’t finished my
appeal. Take me back. Take me back. I must finish my appeal.” In spite of the advice of the doctor and organisers, the missionary wanted to speak to the crowd. So, with the help of two people, one on each side, he stood on the platform and renewed his appeal. He said, “When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers to India, hundreds of young men respond, but when King Jesus calls, no one goes.” Then he paused. There was silence. Again he said, “Is it true that the fathers and mothers of Scotland have no more sons to give for India?” Again he paused. An uneasy silence continued in the hall. Then the missionary concluded, “Very well then, aged though I am, I will go back to India. I can lie down on the banks of the Ganges and I can die and thereby I can let the people of India know that there was one man in Scotland who loved them enough to give his life for them.” At this moment, the silence gave way to the cries of many young people who said, “I will go! I will go!” The veteran missionary was none other than Dr Alexander Duff (1806–1878) who was mainly instrumental in ushering English education to India. India received the gospel light through men and women like Duff who gave themselves up. Dear friend, do not forget the fact that you indeed heard this good news because of someone who was willing to share it with you; someone who willingly spared his/her time for you, someone who took the pain to leave his/her comforts to reach out to you. Would you not share the good news with someone who needs it?
The Mission Need of the Hour Paul was clearly aware of God’s agenda for the world. He did not think, “Let me do ‘something’ for God.” Instead, he understood what God was doing in the world and re-aligned his life according to God’s divine purposes. Getting to know the big picture of God’s mission is important. Let me just show you three crucial verses in this regard (Eph.1:9–11, 2Cor. 5:18–19, Rev. 7:9–10). In history, here and now, God is reconciling the world unto Himself through Jesus Christ. And one day in the future, history will reach its
culmination. Rev. 7:9 gives a glimpse of the grand finale of world missions, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” It is important to understand this agenda of God when we get involved in missions. What is God’s ultimate agenda for the world? To redeem a people for Himself from every nation, tribe, and language who will worship Him as King forever and ever. Making this possible is the goal of missions. I believe Paul was conscious of this mission agenda of God. He knew, in God’s redemption plan, his role was to take the gospel to the gentiles, to break new frontiers, to take it to the unreached (Acts 26:16–18, Phil. 3:12, 2Cor. 5:20), so he kept moving from place to place as a missionary pioneer winning peoples for Christ. Therefore, his ambition was always, “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.” (Rom. 15:20). Likewise, we can see urgency in Paul’s work—from day one—“if I may only finish the task.” In Acts 20 we see him speeding up to Jerusalem as he wanted to be there before Pentecost so that he may share the gospel to the Jewish diaspora. There are millions around the world and in our nation who have never heard the gospel. That must be then our first priority in missions. An Indian mission leader said, “A tiny group of believers who have the gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story.” Oswald J Smith echoed the same when he remarked, “We talk of the second coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” Frontier missions or unreached people groups must be our focus if Rev. 7:9 ought to become a reality. That’s the urgent mission need of the hour. We all love to stay together. There is warmth in Christian fellowship and we just love it. But this has never been God’s agenda in missions. God wants us to be on the move. Robert Savage of Latin American Mission says, “The
command has been to ‘go,’ but we have stayed—in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth... but 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland.” Unless a significant number of people in the Church today are willing to move out of their comfort zones to pioneering situations, world evangelization will remain an impossible task for centuries to come. Student Volunteer Movement (svm) was one of the greatest missionary movements God raised during the second half of the 19th century. In 1886, it was formed when a group of students were gripped with a spirit for world missions at one of the annual Bible study meetings conducted by D L Moody in the USA. They were gripped by urgency. They committed themselves stating, “Unless the Lord prevents us, we will all go as foreign missionaries.” Their motto was: “Evangelization of the world in our generation.” In sixty years, svm sent 20,500 young people to foreign lands while around 80,000 actively prayed and supported them from home. Sherwood Eddy, one of the svm missionaries wrote, “I was one of the first of sixteen thousand student volunteers who were swept into what seemed to us nothing less than a missionary crusade. We were considered fanatical by some. Many sacrificed early plans and ambitions for wealth, power, prestige or pleasure, to go to some distant country about which they knew little save its abysmal need. We felt that we were in one team, working for one world, under one captain.” No wonder the late 19th and early 20th century is called the greatest era is mission history.
The Cost of Commitment Paul realized that in order to attain his one aim, he must be willing to sacrifice his life. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself ” (Acts 20:24). Paul was willing to sacrifice his wealth, reputation, status, health, and even his life for the sake of fulfilling the task God had entrusted him (Acts 20:23, Phil. 1:20, 2Cor. 11:26–28). Paul’s perspective about his
life was a radical one (Phil. 3:8, 2Cor. 5:14–15). His life is a demonstration of Christian discipleship (Luke 9:23–26). Paul’s life reminds us that only those who deny their self can impact the world with the gospel of Christ and fulfil the world mission mandate. Perhaps, many in the church today have an interest in missions. They understand the importance of world missions, know God’s heart-cry; even want to give themselves for the Lord’s work. But self stands in their way. Career ambitions, personal desires, family pride, worldly pursuits, desire for comfort, status, prominence, easy lifestyle, and so on hold them back. In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Travelling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high-paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there, he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month at the age of 26. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible, underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets! I believe people like Paul, Alexander Duff, Sherwood Eddy and William Borden are the ones badly needed in missions today. Will you be one like them? Sam K John is an itinerant Bible teacher based out of Bangalore.
1Thessalonians Sam Jones Cherian
Behind the scenes In Acts 17, Paul and his friends embark on their second missionary journey to the city of Thessalonica. Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and it is on Egnatian Way, the Roman highway to the East. Paul and Silas, after their persecution and release from the jail in Philippi, took this famous Roman military road. The city of Thessalonica was a southern strategic location because of its fine harbor and seaport for the rich agricultural plains of Macedonia. Even though most of the Thessalonians were Greeks, a sizeable enough number of Jews lived there to start a synagogue (Acts 17:1). According to his customs, Paul spent three Sabbath days in the synagogue and reasoned with them from the Scripture by ‘explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said’ (Acts 17:3).
(i) Theme of Paul’s message
In his message, Paul did not focus his attention on issues concerning this world, nor did he enter into a debate with the local people. He always put forth his gospel message in a clear and lucid manner: “Jesus is Christ (Messiah) who suffered and rose from the dead for our sins” (1Cor. 15:3–4). Christ’s suffering and resurrection are the main pillars of the gospel. It is important for believers to focus on Jesus Christ alone and avoid things that distract us from preaching ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’. Few Jews and God-fearing proselytes to Judaism responded to this message in a positive way (Acts 17:4) along with a few prominent women of the city. Thus the Thessalonian church was born!
(ii) Persecution follows
Persecution and God’s saving power are two sides of the same coin. Wherever the gospel is preached, opposition surely arises. This was true, when some of the unbelieving Jews heard about the proselytes’ conversions, they formed a gang and started a riot in the city. They failed to find Paul and company at Jason’s residence. Instead, they attacked the house of Jason and dragged him and some of the brothers before the city authorities. They took notice of this serious charge but they let Jason and the rest go on bail. (Acts 17:5–9) When persecution began in the city, Paul and Silas wisely followed Jesus’ instruction, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next” (Matt. 10:23). Paul and Silas slipped away quietly to Berea with the help of brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. Paul was distressed to leave a newlyformed church in Thessalonica in that stage, so he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica from Athens to be an agent of comfort in the midst of their persecution. Timothy came back to Paul in Corinth with a good and encouraging report about their spiritual health. This epistle was written to Thessalonian believers from the city of Corinth during Paul’s second missionary journey in ad 51. (1Thess. 1:7–9; Acts 18:5,11)
Purpose of the epistle Timothy gave reports on the present conditions in the Thessalonian church, which eventually led Paul to write this epistle. The approach of this epistle is very pastoral and personal like the book of 2Corinthians. Internal evidence suggests that he had many
motives in mind while writing this letter. First of all, he wants to express his appreciation on their spiritual progress and give encouragement to the Thessalonian believers. Secondly, Paul gives a strong defense against the attacks by their Jewish opponents. Thirdly, he exhorts them to stand firm in the midst of persecution from Gentiles as well as Jews. Fourthly, he deals with the issues regarding the parousia or coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some believers were mistaken into thinking that Jesus would return immediately, and they even gave up their daily jobs and walked in an improper manner before outsiders (4:11,12). Some believers were anxious about their loved ones who died before the Lord’s return. Thus the need arose to clarify about the state of their departed loved ones. Thereby Paul presents the first literary evidence for the the use of parousia. It is noteworthy that in every chapter, Paul mentions about the Lord’s return primarily to comfort and encourage the believers who face suffering for His name’s sake. Therefore, this epistle connects the glorious hope of the Lord’s return with a believer’s present experience and walk with Christ.
Exposition In his opening statement (1:1), Paul identifies himself and his two coworkers. It is notable that he often recognized his ministry-companions in his letters. This throws light into his humble attitude and his interest in appreciating the work of other saints, especially young people like Timothy and Silas. It is believed that ‘Silavanus’ was the Roman form of the name which Paul preferred over ‘Silas’. Paul makes no
mention of his apostleship in the two epistles to Thessalonian believers because they already knew who he was and they never questioned his apostleship. The word ‘Church’ does not mean a building structure but refers to a group of people, who are called out to lead a life separated unto God. The Greek word ekklesia can allude to any type of gathering, including social, political and religious. Paul uses this same term to address the believers and also differentiates this assembly from the Jewish synagogue. These believers who were called out of darkness into God’s amazing light, were in “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Their transformed life is firmly established in the first and second person of the Holy Trinity. Thus a believer can have full access to God, the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ as they are inseparable and indivisibly one. “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1John 2:23) Paul’s salutation includes “Grace to you and peace” for the believer in Christ. The word grace is a common Greek greeting which means ‘rejoice’ in the Greek world and the word peace is a Greek equivalent to the Hebrew Shalom, which means ‘well-being’ or ‘prosperity’. Notice the word-order here. Grace comes before peace. Grace, which is the undeserved blessing of God in saving sinners, results in the fruit named peace. The grace of God always leads us into His peace. Paul highlights the theme of grace throughout his epistles as it is the crux of our Christian living, which emanates peace through Him that is beyond human comprehension.
Sam Jones Cherian recently completed his Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, US. Currently, he is teaching at Madurai Bible College and is also involved in the local assembly as a youth worker and Bible teacher. Sam is married to Sheeba and they are based in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
to be continued in the following issues
Aquila & Priscilla Family On a Mission Sam K John
n Joshua 24:15 we see Joshua’s
bold declaration towards the end of his life. “... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I think this must be every sincere believer’s desire—to serve God as a family. I have come across husbands/wives who have shared their pain of not being able to serve the Lord as a family because their partners do not share the same vision. Having the same vision and commitment is a wonderful privilege.
When we think of godly couples who served the Lord together in the nt, the name of Aquilla and Priscilla just stand out. When Luke compiled the history of the early church, he mentions this couple three times. In the same way, Apostle Paul writes about them in three of his epistles. They were certainly a couple known for serving God in the first century church (Romans 16:4). Let’s try to learn some lessons for our family lives from this godly couple, Aquila and Priscilla. Who were these people? Luke gives a very brief introduction in Acts 18: 1–3. Aquila was a Jew and Priscilla probably was a Roman citizen (her name was common among Roman aristocratic families). After marriage they lived in Rome. They were tent makers. They had to leave Rome in 49ad when all the Jews and Jewish Christians were expelled by Roman Emperor Claudius. So they moved to Corinth, a flourishing business centre, and probably started business there. The Bible does not tell us how they came to know the Lord. When Paul moved from Athens to Corinth, in Acts 18:2, we read that Paul went to see them. It could be that Paul joined with them because of two reasons: they were
followers of Christ and people of same trade like him. Traditional accounts also tell us that Aquila and Priscilla were believers even before they moved to Corinth. I want to highlight three aspects of this godly couple: 1 They were known for their togetherness. Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in the nt and all the six times they are mentioned together. They were an inseparable couple. No one even dared to mention their names alone. They were bonded by a divine love. Nothing in life could affect their family life. Their life was not an easy one. Think about these:
•• They both were from different
cultures—it was a mixed marriage. Sure enough, there would have been differences of opinion between them.
•• Four times out of six, the name of
Priscilla is mentioned first. This is unusual in male-dominated first century culture. (Adam and Eve, Ananias and Saphirra). Perhaps, between the two, Priscilla may have been the more outspoken and gifted.
•• They faced troublesome times in
their life—they were always on the run... forcefully packed out of Rome—then had to relocate to Corinth—moved to Ephesus and then moved back to Rome— again expelled from Rome during Nero’s persecution—finally back to Ephesus. A life full of uncertainties!
•• Both of them had to work as tent makers to make a living. Tent making was hard work.
In spite of all the above mentioned difficulties which had the potential to destroy their marriage, they bonded together so well. What was their secret? What was the secret of the inseparable love-bond between them? The Bible does not explicitly talk about it. But one thing is for sure—they were people who were filled by the love of Christ in their hearts. The love that united
them is not human love, but a divine love that only God can give. (Romans 5:5) “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The Triune God was residing in their hearts. (John 14:23) “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” What is the secret of a loving marriage? The love of Christ indwelling in the hearts of both husband and wife. How a spouse relates with God individually is going to affect one’s family life. Our vertical relationship with God helps us maintain all our horizontal relationships, including our marriage. 2 They were known for their knowledge of God’s Word. In Acts 18:24–26, we see this couple explaining God’s Word to a preacher called Apollos. Who is this Apollos? He was a powerful preacher and a person knowledgeable in ot scriptures. He had both knowledge and zeal but there was something lacking in his messages. He only knew the baptism of John. Perhaps he was introduced to Christianity through one of John, the Baptist’s disciples. (In Acts 19 also we see such disciples in Ephesus). They knew Jesus but there was something lacking in their understanding. When Aquilla and Priscilla heard him in the synagogue they took him into their house—they explained the Word of God more accurately. Note two words in the passage—‘firmly’ and ‘explaining’. They were competent enough to explain the Scripture to a competent preacher. Apollos was not an ordinary person. He was from Alexandria where the world’s largest library of the times existed (7,00,000 volumes). How did Aquilla and Priscilla become such competent people in the Scriptures? In spite of the busy schedules and hard work, they had time for worship, Bible reading and discussions. Their association with Paul over eighteen months at Corinth also helped them. They had a spirit of learning.
How much do we know God’s Word? How well do we know God’s Word? What efforts do we take to study God’s Word? How much time and money is spent on increasing your knowledge of God’s Word? Apollos later became a powerful instrument in God’s hand (Acts 18:28, 1Cor.1:12). Aquilla and Priscilla, though a small part, undoubtedly had a powerful influence on Apollos’ preaching ministry. 3 They were known for their investments in building God’s kingdom. Aquilla and Priscilla were people who were willing to spend and to be spent for God (2 Cor.12:15). They realised they were God’s fellow-workers (Rom. 16:3). They were tent makers but tent making was only their occupation not their preoccupation. They were on a mission for God. Their goal in life was not to be the best tent makers where they lived or to earn lots of money or quickly settle down in life. They were so single-minded. Everything about their lives revolved around one purpose—to build the kingdom of God. Wherever they went, whether it was Rome or Corinth or Ephesus, it didn’t matter for Aquilla and Prsiscilla; they were on a mission for God. Think of the following contexts:
•• They were expelled from Rome
two times (by Claudius and Nero) but nothing could stop them from building God’s kingdom. They didn’t go into a shell. They were like Apostle Paul. Even Paul’s imprisonment only became an opportunity to share the gospel and expand the kingdom (Phil. 1:12). Difficulties did not stop them in their service for the Lord.
•• When Paul moved from Corinth
to Ephesus, they too moved from that prospering business centre to Ephesus, which was a dangerous place for Christians. All for one thing—for the advancement of the gospel.
They were tent makers but tent making was only their occupation not their preoccupation. They were on a mission for God. Their goal in life was not to be the best tent makers where they lived or to earn lots of money or quickly settle down in life. They were so single-minded. Everything about their lives revolved around one purpose— to build the kingdom of God.
•• They were willing to make sacrifices (Rom. 16:3–4). They were willing to take risks for God’s sake.
•• They were willing to open their
houses for building God’s kingdom—the church met in their home at least in three places—Corinth, Ephesus and even in Rome (1Cor. 16:19). It was not an easy task; physical adjustments were to be made, hospitality must be ensured and it also involved huge risk as Christians were considered an illegal religious group during the time.
•• They also opened their homes for
God’s people—for Paul, Apollos and many others. Paul in his last letter could not forget mentioning his friends (2Tim. 4:19).
Aquilla and Priscilla spent their time, money and gifts for the extension of God’s kingdom. How much of your time, money and talents are being spent for the sake of eternity? We do not remember Aquila and Priscilla for the tents they made or for any other worldly achievements. We remember them because of what they invested for God’s kingdom.
Missionary Chronicles from the past John Wesley
“Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice if they were all in missions...”
Samuel Wesley, the father of the founder of Methodism, was thoroughly imbued with the missionary spirit. At the opening of the century he submitted to the English prelate the plan of a mission in India, and made an offer of his own services. Wesley’s mother was like-minded with her husband. The home of the Wesleys, therefore, was no stranger to an interest in the non-Christian world. The mother prayed and laboured that her sons might prove blessings to mankind, and she did not go without her reward. There is one beautiful little incident in that family history, which reflects equal credit upon mother and son. When John Wesley was invited to go out upon the mission to the Indians in North America, he at once and firmly declined. On being pressed for a statement of his objections, he referred
to his recently widowed mother, and his own relation to her, in these touching words: “I am the ‘staff ’ of her age, her chief support and comfort.” But what would be his decision were his mother agreeable, and even anxious that he entered upon that mission? Not thinking of such a sacrifice as coming within the range of probability, he at once replied, that if his mother did cheerfully agree in the proposal, he would certainly view and act upon it as a call from God. John Wesley’s mother, on being consulted, gave this memorable reply: “Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice if they were all so employed (in missions), though I should never see them more.” The decision of the mother carried in it the decision of the son, and furnished an able and devoted labourer for the mission field. John Wesley became a missionary in Georgia, and took the world as his parish. He shortly afterward established a fund for missionary purposes, and in many ways he wrought for the spread of the gospel at home and abroad. Mr Wesley lived to see thirty-three missionaries in the Moravian Isles, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the West Indies, and up-wards of five thousand members. The missionary organization of the Wesleyans was completed in 1817, and the agents of the Society were then preaching the gospel of Jesus in nearly forty languages by the 1850s. These are some of the results of the mother’s decision to give her son to the holy cause. John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican theologian who, with his brother Charles Wesley and fellow cleric George Whitefield, is credited with the foundation of the evangelical movement known as Methodism. He was one of the best revival preachers of his time in England.
The cloak is taken up!
Alexander Duff, when he attended the University of St. Andrew’s (Scotland), had as his fellow-student, John Urquhart, who devoted himself to the missionary cause. The two were ever conversing on the subject, and were much of one mind. Session after session, as Duff returned from the winter’s study to his home, John Urquhart had always been first in his talk. Duff ’s father was struck with admiration at Urquhart’s determination to be a missionary to India. In 1827, the usual budget of intelligence was produced, but as the parents hung on their son’s revelations now with tears, now with smiles, and ever with thankfulness and pride the loved name of his friend was not once mentioned. “But what of your friend Urquhart?” at last asked Duff ’s father. “Urquhart is no more,” said Duff, with a stern abruptness of self-restraint, and then slowly, wistfully added, “What if your
son should take his cloak? You approved the motive that directed the choice of Urquhart, you commended his high purpose—the cloak is taken up.” Both mother and father were awed into silence by this declaration—the first breaking to them or to man of the vow that had already been made to God. Though at first overwhelmed, they, on reflection, consented to the announcement of the young evangelist and the will of God.
Farewell to India!
Dr Alexander Duff spent upwards of thirty years of his life in missionary work in India, and in July 1864, he was laid low by disease and had to abandon the field. Before he left India he was presented with many addresses, among which was one from a society which represented all educated non-Christian Bengal. The spirit of the old soldier of the Cross is seen in his reply. He eloquently pointed out that, strong as were the claims of science and philosophy, nothing but Christianity could account for missionary enterprise. He painted his bright hopes of India’s future, and concluded by saying, “Wherever I wander, wherever I roam, wherever I labour, wherever I rest, my heart will still be in India. So long as I am in this tabernacle of clay I shall never cease, if permitted by a gracious Providence, to labour for the good of India ; my latest breath will be sent in imploring blessings on India and its people. And when at last this frail mortal body is consigned to the silent tomb, while I myself think that the only befitting epitaph for my tombstone would be, ‘Here lies Alexander Duff, by nature and practice a sinful guilty creature, but saved by grace through faith in the blood and righteousness of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ Were it by others thought desirable that any addition should be made to this sentence, I would reckon it my highest earthly honour, should I be deemed worthy of appropriating the grandly generous words, already suggested by the exuberant kindness of one of my oldest native friends, in some such form as follows: ‘By profession a missionary; by his life and labours, a true and constant friend of India.’ Pardon my weakness; nature is
overcome; the gush of feeling is beyond control; amid tears of sadness I must now bid you all a solemn farewell.” Alexander Duff (1806 – 1878) played a large part in the development of higher education in India. He was the first overseas missionary of the Church of Scotland to India. He also played a part in establishing the University of Calcutta.
John G Paton
A spectator who offered himself for missions
The reformed Church of Scotland advertised for another missionary to join the Rev. John Inglis, who was doing a grand work in the New Hebrides. For two years their efforts failed. At length the Synod, after much prayer and consultation, felt the claim of the natives so urgently pressed upon them by the Lord’s repeated calls, that they resolved to cast lots, to discover whether God would thus select any minister to be relieved from his home charge, and be designated as a missionary to the South Seas. Each member of the Synod agreed to hand in, after solemn appeal to God, the names of the three best qualified in his estimation for such a work, and he who had the clear majority was to be loosed from his local congregation and to proceed to the mission field, on the first and second highest, if two could be secured.
It was a solemn time for all present, and a strained silence held the assembly while the scrutinizers retired to examine the papers. When they returned and announced that the result was so indecisive that it was clear the Lord had not in that way provided a missionary, a cloud of sadness appeared to fall over all the Synod. John G Paton, then a student, was present at this meeting as a spectator, and was deeply moved by what he heard and saw. He says the Lord kept saying within him, “Since none better qualified can be got, rise and offer yourself.” Almost overpowering was the impulse he felt to answer aloud, “Here am I, send me.” He felt as if God had sent him a special call, and he went to the Rev. Dr Bates, the Convener of the Committee, and offered himself for the New Hebrides Mission, who heard the words with tears of joy. Paton then returned to his lodging with a light heart, and said to his fellow-student, Joseph Copeland, who shared his apartment with him, “I have been away signing my banishment. I have offered myself as a missionary for the New Hebrides.” After a long and silent meditation, in which he seemed lost in far-wandering thoughts, Joseph’s answer was, “If they will accept of me, I also am resolved to go!” “Will you write the Convener to that effect?” asked Mr Paton, “or let me do so.” “You may,” Joseph replied. A few minutes later his letter of offer was in the post-office. Next morning Dr Bates called upon the two students early, and after a long conversation commended them and their future work to the Lord God in fervent prayer. That this call came from Him was abundantly made evident by the future career of these young men, who were thus brought into the field in answer to earnest and effectual prayer.
“You will be eaten by cannibals”
Paton, was a city missionary in Glasgow, when the call came to him to leave his native land and go to the heathen, to make known to them the gospel of the grace of God. Almost all his friends were opposed to his plan, and reasoned with him to stay where he was so much
beloved and doing so much good. Even his Professor and Pastor, Dr Symington, brought his influence upon him to make him forego his resolution. It was urged he was leaving certainty for uncertainty; work where he was useful, to what might be useless. Among those who sought to deter him was a dear old Christian friend, whose crowning argument always was “the cannibals, you will be eaten by the cannibals!” To this Paton at last replied, “Mr Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you that if I can live and die, serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me, whether I am eaten by cannibals, or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.” On hearing this reply, the old gentleman, raising his hands in a depreciating attitude, left the room, exclaiming, “After that I have nothing more to say.” Paton was not shaken in his resolution, which his after-life proved to be, not of man but of God. John G. Paton (1824-1907) was a Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides. Before sailing there with his newly wed wife in 1858, he was a city missionary in Glasgow for ten years. Began work on Tanna, an island inhabited by savage cannibals; later worked on the island of Aniwa. He gave to the Aniwan people the first hymnbook in their own language and translated the New Testament into their language.
Who will go down the gold mine in India?
William Carey had much to do with originating the Baptist Missionary Society, and giving an impetus to the missionary cause all over the world. He was of humble parentage and slender education, and was not, as he said himself, even a shoemaker, but only a cobbler. Whilst maintaining himself at his trade, and afterwards doing the drudgery of a village school, he was considering the cause of Christian Missions, and carefully studied as well as constructed, maps of various countries, that he might realise the abounding spirit of destitution. In the year 1784, the Nottingham association, to which he belonged, resolved upon holding monthly concerts for prayer. Mr Carey’s one topic at these meetings was the state of the unreached mission fields; but few entered sympathetically into his views. Seven years later, and after his removal to Leicester, Carey introduced his favourite theme, and pressed upon the friendly clerical assembly, “whether it was not practicable, and our bounden duty, to attempt somewhat towards spreading the gospel in the unreached world?” Two sermons were preached by the venerable Mr Sutcliffe, and the famous Andrew Fuller, which confirmed Mr Carey in his views, and strengthened his resolution to attempt giving them a practical shape. At the May anniver-
sary of the Nottingham Association, in 1792, Mr Carey preached his evermemorable sermon from Isaiah 54: 2–3, and under two divisions—Expect great things from God, and, Attempt great things for God. The impression produced by this discourse was so deep and universal, that the Association resolved upon instituting a mission to the unreached at their October conference. On the second day of October the Society was formed, and although the collection on the occasion only amounted to £13 2s 6d, ample funds speedily flowed in, and from many quarters. The great question now was about where to go? Which field? Mr Carey had thought long and anxiously about the South Seas, and held himself in readiness to proceed thither, if he could be promised support for even one year. Almost simultaneously with the formation of the Baptist Mission, Mr John Thomas crossed his path and changed his views regarding the first field. Mr Thomas was collecting funds for a mission in Bengal (India), for which he had acquired a great liking, and in which he had personally laboured, whilst in the East, as a naval surgeon. Satisfied with the Christian deportment and missionary zeal and fitness of Mr Thomas, the Society offered him engagement as an agent, which he joyfully accepted. The next difficulty was a companion for Mr Thomas. Andrew Fuller, interested in the report given by Mr Thomas of Bengal, uttered his thrilling and oft repeated statement: “There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the centre of the earth; who will venture to explore it?” William Carey answered the challenge of his friend, and in these memorable words: “I will go down, but remember that you must hold the ropes.” The scene was solemn and the engagement was sacred. Born in England, William Carey (17611834) was a Baptist missionary to India. A pastor before going to the mission field, he spent an active forty-one years serving the Lord in India, including translating the Scriptures. Carey never returned to England, living and working in India for nearly 41 years.
From Cambridge to Tirunelveli
Thomas Walker’s interest in missions perhaps had its beginning during his Cambridge days as he used to attend regularly the prayer meetings conducted by the Church Missionary Union. At one time during this period, it is believed that Walker offered himself to the Church Missionary Society (cms) for overseas missionary service but delayed his decision because he was not sure of the divine call. Nevertheless, he kept his missionary burden glowing. For instance, while ministering at St James, Walker organized Mpwapwa Missionary Band. The band consisted of a limited number of young men who met weekly in Walker’s rooms for mutual instruction and conference, and each of them undertook to give a missionary address in a Sunday school or a local meeting of some kind when called upon. In 1885, Walker’s growing missionary interest coincided with the need of missionaries in the cms mission stations in Asia and Africa. The cms report of 1884 states, “The expansion of the Missions in the preceding two years had resulted in an urgent need for more men; and as the annual day of intercession approached, a stirring appeal was issued that God would graciously call out His servants to supply that need.” Hence, the cms organized mission awareness programmes for university graduates
periodically in London. One such meeting was the Exeter Hall meeting of March 24, 1885. The highlight of the meeting was a stirring speech by Rev. Handley Moule. He spoke of complete surrender to a large audience of university students. Walker was stirred within his heart to commit himself wholly unto God on that day. He recalls, “It was at a meeting at Exeter hall. Moule was speaking; he asked us to put both our hands quite within the Master’s hands. And that meant doing anything, going anywhere, and so I am here (India).” Subsequently, Walker offered himself to the cms for missionary service. The cms report of 1885 notes, “It was especially a cause of thanksgiving to God that men came forward who needed no training, but were ready to go out at once. Among these were Rev. T Walker, H Sykes and E Corfield, all Cambridge men, the first named being Mr Stuart’s curate at Holloway...” Walker, though he was attracted to ‘the romantic surroundings of some modern mission fields like China,’ he was open for any place. During this period, he once wrote to his mother, “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence. Wherever it is, the everlasting arms are underneath...We must just leave all in God’s hands.” At the end of 1885, Walker was sent to the mission station in Tirunelveli, South India. Thomas Walker served in South India from 1885 to 1912. He was a much sought-after revival preacher. He spoke in Maramon Convention (Kerala) for over 13 years before sudden death in 1912. He was also Amy Carmichael’s spiritual mentor.
Joseph Jackson Fuller
“Are you going to put me in an empty grave when I die?”
Mr J J Fuller was a native of America, and followed his father in a mission on the west coast of Africa. He landed in the Gulf of Guinea and the Bight of Biafra. This was in 1845. He found neither Bible nor book, not even a written language; none of the people had ever heard of Jesus, etc., He lived to see all this changed, their language into written form, the whole of the Bible was translated for them, and they have churches, schools and teachers of their own. Mr Fuller tells of his going into the Cameroons, and how in the morning, looking across the river, he saw many canoes with people dressed up in all their war dresses, and their spears and swords were brandished in the sun. They had their war caps upon their heads. He took his glass and looked, and found that the decoration on the bows of all those canoes were nothing else but human heads. He went up to the chief and said to him, “What do you do such cruel deeds for?” He looked very much astonished that any one should ask him such a question, and said, “What deeds?” Pointing across the river, Mr Fuller said, “Look yonder. What about that row of human heads on your canoe? Why do you do such cruel things? They are not right.” The Chief replied, “You people come into this country and live here, and
you claim to be a good people, and that is true enough; but do you tell me that when I die my sons are going to put me into an empty grave alone with nobody.” When Mr Fuller replied, “Yes,” the chief looked at him and said, “You are a fool.” Then all his sons came up directly and said, “What is the matter, father?” And he repeated what he had said to Mr Fuller: “This man who has come to live in this country says that when I die, you boys will put me into an empty grave, with no one.” And they looked at Mr Fuller and grinned their savage grin, and then turned away and said, “Father, do you believe him? He is a fool, and he is a foreigner. What does he know? Let him alone.” And yet, mark it! That same Chief lived on until the old custom of burying living people with the dead was completely abolished. In that town, about fifty yards from the chief ’s own house, stood a little chapel, and the preacher in that chapel was none other one of his sons, who was now preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph Jackson Fuller (1825-1908), Jamaican missionary in Cameroon for over thirty years.
The great pioneer missionaries all had ‘inverted homesickness’ this passion to call that country their home which was most in need of the Gospel. In this passion all other passions died; before this vision all other visions faded; this call drowned all other voices. They were the pioneers of the Kingdom, the forelopers of God, eager to cross the border-marches and discover new lands or win new empires. Samuel Zwemer
She will go with me anywhere!
John Hunt was a Wesleyan Methodist and was a student at Hoxton, London. He had set his heart on going to Africa, but as a preacher was needed for Fiji the lot fell unexpectedly on him. He was originally a plough-boy, and was led to devote himself to the ministry by a sermon of a Methodist minister. He made rapid progress in his studies, and in 1831 was summoned to the Mission House, and asked whether he would go to Fiji. The question startled him, and he asked time to consider it. Returning to Hoxton, he burst into the room of a fellow-student, and in quick, excited tones, told him of the unexpected proposal. His friend, thinking only of the hardships and peril of such a mission, began to sympathize with him. But he had not read the secret of Hunt’s deep emotion. “Oh, that’s not it,” exclaimed Hunt, “I will tell you what it is: that poor girl in Lincolnshire will never go with me to Fiji; her mother will never consent to it.” The truth was, that that strong noble heart of his had been linked in love, for the last six years, to Hannah Summers, and he, whom neither cannibalism nor paganism could frighten, felt dismayed at the possibility of being parted from her forever. At his friend’s suggestion he sat down instantly and wrote her a loving and straightforward letter, every line of which made it plain that, if he had doubts about others he had none
about her. Still his heart was distressed, and he moved in and out amongst his fellow-students with an anxious and dejected air. But as quickly as posts could travel in those days came back the reply of that noble girl, and Hunt burst once more into his friend’s chamber, and with beaming face and cheery voice, exclaimed, “It’s all right. She’ll go with me anywhere.” So they went and did a great and glorious work. He died at the age of thirtysix, with his armour on, and entered heaven with the note of triumph on his lips—Hallelujah. John Hunt was a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Island. He died, just 33 years old. Within fifty years of his landing, there was not a single person in the islands who openly professed the old heathen religion.
A dying mother’s wish
There was grief in the comfortable and well-to-do home of Father Schwartz of Sonnenburg, Germany. His wife lay dying. By her side was a little child who had been born to her in 1726, only a year or two before. At the bedside stood her Lutheran pastor and her sorrowing husband; and it came to pass that as her soul was departing, she gathered up all her remaining strength, and, pointing to the babe, said in the
spirit of the words of Hannah, the old Testament saint, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him; therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. Take him,” said the dying woman, “I have dedicated him to the Lord; and, if he shows any aptitude for the Christian ministry, I charge you to foster it. This is my wish.” From his earliest years Father Schwartz habituated the child to habits of selfdenial and simplicity; told him the story of his consecration, and trained him in the principles of the Lutheran faith. At the age of eight he was sent to the grammar school at Sonnenburg, where masters of varying temperament seem to have first excited and then chilled his religious emotions. He made good use of his time; acquired a fair knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and, at the age of sixteen, was removed to a higher school at Custrin. Here he was away from his father’s eye and influence, and, left to him, was drawn into the dissipations of student life, though happily preserved from open sin. To have seen him at this time, no one would have thought that he could ever become what eventually he became. But Divinity was shaping his ends, however much he might rough-hew them. A daughter of one of the syndics took an interest in the lad. It was not a romantic love affair, or a sentimental attachment of any kind, but simply the desire of an earnest Christian girl to save a young life from frivolity—which is often only another word for ruin. She introduced him to Dr. Francke, the excellent and eminent professor at Halle—the man who, it will be remembered, recommended Ziegenbalg and Plutschau for the mission work at Tranquebar, India. The syndic’s daughter lent young Schwartz a history of Francke’s famous Orphan Houses, and so interested did he become in the perusal that he determined to finish his studies at Halle. The kind-hearted Francke took him in hand at once, lodged the lad at his new Orphan House, gave him a Latin class to teach, and evening devotions of the household to superintend. But, more than
this, he introduced him to the veteran Schultze, who, after twenty years of labour in India, was at Halle superintending the printing of the Tamil version of the Bible, which Ziegenbalg and he had translated. No one could be brought under the influence of Schultze, and remain unimpressed with the fervour of his Christian zeal. Young Schwartz caught the enthusiasm of the old hero of the Cross, and before long there was borne in upon his mind the conviction that for him, too, India was the appointed field of service. At length he went back to Sonnenburg, laid the matter before his father, and told him what had then become the great desire of his heart. The good old man asked for three days to consider, and spent those days alone in prayer; then he tranquilly bade his son, “Go forth with a father’s blessing, and win many souls for Christ in the far-off land to which God had called you.” The son went forth and became the founder of the Tanjore Mission, and wielded an influence which extended far and wide, and was ever exercised on behalf of Christian faith and the well-being of man. Christian Frederick Schwartz (1726–1798) was a German Lutheran Protestant missionary to India. He worked in Tanjore. He was known for his political statesmanship by the local rulers and British govt.
People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted. Nate Saint
A portrait of a missionary wife
When Dr and Mrs Judson were doing mission work in Burma, a war was being carried on between England and the king of that part of India. The natives looked upon all white people, and especially the missionaries, as spies, and treated them accordingly. When news arrived that Rangoon was in the hands of the British, Dr Judson was arrested. Whilst preparing for dinner an armed company entered his house, threw him on the floor, tied his arms behind his back and led him off. Mrs Judson was left in charge of ten officers, who had orders to guard her closely; but she heard through a faithful servant that her husband had been taken to the condemned prison. The governor of the city was softened by a present from Mrs Judson on the third day, and allowed an interview when she explained that the missionaries were Americans, and had nothing to do with the war. The governor could not release them from prison, or even from their chains, but promised to reduce their rigours as far as possible, but at the same time hinted that certain favours in money and cloth would be acceptable. The money was given and Mrs Judson gained admission to the door of the prison, when her husband crawled forth with his chains and had a brief and affecting interview. For seven months she appeared daily at the house of some member of the
government to make an appeal through her sisterhood to the queen, but without result. For about eighteen months that heroine walked forth in Burma dress, to avoid the public scorn and fury, and walked to and from prison at eventide, a weary, sad, and dangerous travel of about four miles. The wife wrote on a flat cake which was buried in a bowl of rice; and the husband’s answer was found on a wetted tile, which when dry revealed the writing. Dr Judson was removed to Oungpen-la, and thither his devoted wife followed to find him in a roofless and wretched prison, lying in chains, and more dead than alive from suffering and fatigue. Betwixt weary watching and incessant anxiety Mrs. Judson became thoroughly prostrated, had no medicine, and could procure none. She was by and by seized with spotted fever and was for a time delirious. Later, Dr Judson was set free. Nevertheless, Mrs Judson’s thoughts of her husband, her child, the converts, and the mission brought forth from her enfeebled mind, but loving heart, many pious and affectionate exclamations. On the twenty fourth of October, 1826, this genuine heroine and martyr passed to her reward, and was joined by her only surviving child about six months afterwards. On his return Dr Judson went to the spot on which they had last kneeled in prayer. Speaking of her many sorrows, the bereaved husband with deep emotion said “Can I wish they had been less? Can I sacrilegiously wish to rob her crown of a single gem? True she has been torn from her husband’s bleeding heart, and from her darling babe; but infinite wisdom and love have presided, as ever, in this most afflicting dispensation. Faith decides that it is all right, and the decision of faith, eternity will confirm.” The secret of all such doing and suffering for the Gospel is found in the consciousness of the love of Christ which constraineth those who believe in his name. Ann Judson (1789-1826) was the first American woman missionary to go overseas. She sailed with her husband, Adoniram, for Calcutta, India, in 1812. Ordered to leave India, they began
their missionary work in Rangoon, Burma in 1813. Ann learned the Burmese and Siamese languages, did translation work, taught Burmese girls, managed her household and cared for her husband during his 18-month imprisonment in 1824-25.
J Williams’ wife Thy will be done
If missionaries have to undergo severe trials in prosecuting their mission, many of their wives have been called upon to share in their difficulties, and to endure sufferings all their own. This was the experience of the wife of the Rev. Joseph Williams, who went to Kaffirland, South Africa and began his labours in the Kat river district, but in less than two years was smitten down by death, leaving his wife a lonely widow with his children, a stranger in a strange land. This bereavement occurred under circumstances peculiarly painful and afflictive. Far beyond the colonial boundary, and with no other mission station or friendly aid near, Mrs Williams watched over her beloved husband in his last moments, in a certain sense entirely alone, for her only companions were the half enlightened heathen natives, who had expressed their sympathy as best they could. When she had seen life passing away and had closed the eyes of her dearest earthly friend and partner in her joys and sorrows, she had to undertake the necessary preparations for the burial. She had to get wood and then teach the unlearned Kaffirs how to make the coffin, and how to dig the grave. When all was ready the brave Christian woman with her infant in her arms followed those who bore the earthly house of the servant of Christ to its long home. “When dust had returned to the dust, with a throbbing heart and emotions no language could fully describe, she knelt in prayer asking God to enable her to say— “Thy will be done.” Mrs Williams implored the protection and blessing of God on her fatherless children, on the seed sown by the
departed, and on the sable sons of Africa, who had come to mourn with her. Having seen the grave filled, and covered with large stones to secure it from the ravages of beasts, she returned to the colony where she had already done and suffered much for the gospel, and where she was required to do further work for her Redeemer. Women are never weak in the hours of affliction and in cases of this kind, demonstrate once more that their mission in this world is largely to love and to suffer.
The Story of the Bible Shibu K Mathew
e often think the main actor in the story of the Bible is man, but it is God. He initiates and is working out His plan and purpose in the world. The Bible is not a book of many stories but one story. It is better to look at the Bible as one book with 66 chapters than 66 books. The whole story of the Bible can be summarised in three parts. Introduction: Genesis 1–11 Body of the story: Genesis 12–Jude Conclusion of the story: Revelation Let’s start from the beginning of the Bible to rediscover the whole story of the Bible from the beginning to the end.
Introduction I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ. Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf
The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia
Genesis 1–11 forms the introduction to the entire story, containing four main events and beginning with creation and ending with the fall. God created everything in five days, and then He created man on the sixth day. God created everything with a purpose. Man was created with a purpose. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 rsv) The fall of man is in Gen. 3–5. The villain of the story, Satan, enters the scene in the form of a serpent. Man disobeyed God, heeding the false promise of Satan, who started a rebellion against God’s kingdom. Though it seems the plan of God was foiled, God reveals the future plot of the story: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring 5 and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15)
Finally, man was sent out from the presence of God. Man continued to multiply in numbers rebelling against His holiness. In Gen. 6–9 God judged man through the flood. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:5–9) But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord, so God saved Noah and his family. God made a covenant with Noah that He would not destroy all of mankind through the flood. Then God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Genesis chapter 10 records the families of the sons of Noah, who were scattered across the face of the earth. Gen. 11:1 says that the whole earth had one language and the same words. However, God wanted Noah and his sons to scatter and fill the earth, but they decided not to scatter. Instead, they wanted to build a city and a tower to make a “name” for themselves. Man was again working against God. Now God confused their language and dispersed them over the face of all the earth. Gen. 11:1–9. So from one language and one nation, they were divided into more than 70 nations and different language groups. God divided mankind in order to redeem them one by one.
Body of the Story The body of the story starts from Genesis 12 onwards when God called Abram from one of these 70 nations to make him a great nation. God revealed his purpose to Abraham through a promise. “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1–4) God was telling Abram that He would not be their tribal God, but He would be the God of all the families of the earth. God chose Abraham and his descendants to be a channel to share the blessings. In this way, Israel would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. God’s future plan of redeeming all of the nations was foretold as a promise to Abram. This promise was reaffirmed to Abram again in different forms (Gen. 15: 5–21, Gen. 17:4–8, Gen 18:18–19, Gen. 22:17–18). Then God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, meaning, “Father of Many Nations”, and He changed Sarai to Sarah, meaning, “Mother of many Nations”. God promised that He would make Abraham the father of many nations through his descendants. The same promise was repeated again to Issac (Gen. 26:4) and Jacob (Gen. 28:14). According to the promise of God, the descendants of Abraham increased greatly in Egypt. continued on page 24
“Over my dead body!” cried her mother
The Mastermind of Modern India Shobana Nelson Ravi Zacharias says “All it takes is one man or a woman to step on the scene and change the course of history.” Sheer hard work, impeachable integrity elevated this penniless accountant to the position of ‘the Chairman of the East India Company’. Not clinging to the advantages of the status, setting aside the privileges that welcomed him, he paired with the greatest Christian politician that ever lived, Sir William Wilberforce, and became one of the main influences that changed the course of Indian history for good!
Who was this man? What did he do? Charles Grant, a young English touched the Indian shores in the year 1768 to join the East Indian Company as an accountant. The death of his two young children drew his attention to the questions of eternity. Coming to the conclusion that “if we are moral beings who will have to give an account of our lives to our Creator, then, nothing, absolutely nothing, can be more foolish than to be unprepared to stand before the Judge of our eternal destiny” he and his wife became Christians. The Bible, His scriptures, became Grant’s handbook of life. The more he pored over the Scriptures, the more zealous he became to carry out the commands of our Lord. The grand universal plan of God to bless all nations which God has scripted in the whole of Scriptures became his passion. For Grant, it meant “to bless India” the country he has set his foot
in. Therefore he identified himself with the plan of God, understood its urgency, and involved with all his heart and soul in the task. It is this Christian conviction of Grant that set the ball in motion to empower, emancipate and modernize India! The India that Grant saw in 1768 was greatly appalling. There was a rising animosity between the Hindus and the Muslims. The East India Company rose in military power but were less or had no concern about the demands it made on the Indian people. Hence the Europeans became a stench among the Indians . Also there was gross corruption in the administration of justice within the EIC and disorder and misrule were strewn everywhere. Added to it was the Great Bengal famine in 1770 that swallowed about 10 million people in Bengal! This hideous state of the country he lived, made Grant to live out his Christian conviction. For Grant was convinced that “At its best the state can produce only just laws and regulations. It cannot produce good men without whom nothing will work. Gospel was the reason behind the English reformation. If Gospel could change a country like England, it can change India too! ‘What has happened in England can happen in India also’! England should share the greatest blessing ever received – the Gospel to India because Gospel alone brings temporal and eternal blessings. In short Bible and Biblical worldview should be given to India to transform the Indian mind and culture”. Grant soon began to work. He gave himself to battle for the downtrodden in India and a mission to uplift India. So, he met the PM of Britian, the
leaders of the East India company and the English Christians and appealed them to seek India’s welfare. He joined Joined the ‘Clapham sect’ which cared more for morality that British economy and campaigned a proposal for missions in India in 1787. He authored a book ‘observations on the state of society among the asiatic subjects…’ that changed the course of Indian history. He Introduced the English language to read Scriptures and to acquire scientific and technological skills that will pave for development and rise intellectual men to give a democratic rule in India. He inculcated christianity as the heart of the missionary enterprise against secular humanism.
Did the ball roll? Yes, in full swing! The 1813 charter of the East India company, greatly influenced by Charles Grant and Sir Wilberforce granted licence for the entry of British missionaries in India when no British missionaries were allowed in the 18th century. Education revolution broke out as Alexander Duff was ably supported by Grant when the EIC was against education. Undercover missionaries such as the intellectual Henry Martyn were recruited as chaplains in the EIC. The 1813 charter, rolled into the very crucial 1853 charter that gave immense significance to the making of modern India and led to its freedom. Certain features were the abolition of the system of recruitment to the Civil Service ‘through political patronage and influence’. This made it possible for Indians to enter the Civil Service and learn to administer India. This charter also led to the famous educational
I despatch that mushroomed the University revolution in India which produced great men like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Swami Vivekananda. And it set up a legislature in India that started off the participation of Indian nationals in governing India. By 1858, the Christian spirit shaped the policy in India! That means even before the 1857 revolt, letting the Indians to govern India conceived in the Christian minds!! ‘Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…’ admonishes Scripture. Grant was such a man who lived out a Christian mind. It would be unwise if we don’t portray him as ‘The Master mind of Modern India’. He joins the vintage that ‘combined courage with compassion and conviction to take a stand in the best possible way to make a difference in life undergirding it all with the message of Jesus Christ’. (Italics – Ravi Zacharias) . May we possess this mind of Christ that seeks to bless the country we live in. May we intentionally choose to be channels of God’s outworking in all the nations and see the fruit of our labour as co-workers of God in the grand spectacular panorama that would usher in colourful people from all nations, tribe, language and people group before the throne of God . “…But we have the mind of Christ”! (1 Cor 2.16) Excerpts from the book Letters to a postmodern Hindu By Vishal Mangalwadi. Shobana and her husband, Nelson, are IEM missionaries based in Puducherry.
was moved as she listened to J O Fraser’s plea for workers to come and share the gospel with the Lisu people of China. She sat attentively as she learned of the Lisu who had not heard of the living God who loved them and Jesus who could save them from the judgment of their sin. In fact, the Lisu didn’t even have a word for forgiveness, mercy, repent, compassion, or justice in their language. On the other hand, there were hundreds of words to describe the most efficient way to skin a person alive. Living in fear of spirits, the Lisu were extremely superstitious, using mediums to contact the spirits and practicing witchcraft to appease them. Brokenhearted for these people she had never met, she told the Lord, “I’m not a man—but I’d go! Oh, I’d go!” Only a few years prior, Isobel Miller (often called Belle) would never have dreamed of leaving the comforts of home to share Christ with those who had not heard. It was the Roaring Twenties, and Belle was enjoying every minute of it. A sweet and popular honour student at the University of British Colombia, she was making a name for herself both in the theater and through dance. Belle was born on December 17, 1901 in Toronto Canada. Although both her parents were Christians, her dad even being a lay Presbyterian preacher, Belle was a self-declared agnostic after being patronized publicly by one of her professors for believing the creation story. After an emotional breakup with a young man whom she had once hoped to marry, Belle began to spiral into depression and recognize that the world could not bring her joy. One night, Belle contemplated suicide, but instead cried out to God to give her peace. It was through this that she began to turn back to the Christian faith and came to know Jesus as her Lord and mature in her faith. Now, in 1924, her encounter with Fraser had left her unable to return to the ordinary. She explained to her parents her desire to reach the Lisu, only to have them regard this desire as fanatical, and even selfish. “Over my dead body!” cried her mother. Her mother, the president of the Women’s Missionary Society for many years, was not opposed to missionaries—just opposed to her daughter being a missionary. Her parents had done all they could to give their daughter the finest education and provide her with the greatest comforts, and yet now she was throwing it all away. Not only did they view this as ungrateful, but Belle was currently the only breadwinner for the family, her brother being unemployed and her dad having lost his life-savings in a bad business venture. Unexpectedly Belle lost her mother during an operation, but learned that the night before her death; her mother had told a friend that Belle had “chosen the best way.” Belle continued in obedience to what she knew God had called her. She packed her bags and headed to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. While she was there, a young man named John Kuhn caught her attention. They were opposites to be certain. Belle was passionate and impulsive, and John was prudent and full of common sense. Yet they both had the same vision and heart for China. In 1926, John left for China with China Inland Mission (cim), but they
continued to write each other for two years while Belle stayed in Canada as God prepared her for the foreign field. In 1928, after cim’s requested two years of new missionaries staying single, Belle headed to China to be married to John. After arriving in China, John and Belle first settled down in Chengchiang for the first couple years of their marriage, although “settling” may not be the appropriate word. Belle probably would have described them as quite uncomfortable. The Lord taught Belle just what dying to herself looked like. Unaccustomed to the diet, the customs, the lack of personal space, and all the while adjusting to the life of a newlywed, Belle was faced with the cost of leaving the comforts of home. She was elated that she was able to share the gospel with the first visitors into her home, but sat horrified when one of the Chinese women blew her nose onto Belle’s nice quilt, while another allowed her child to spit up all over her nice rug. After choking down her frustration, she immediately realized that her valued belongs needed to go, or else she was tempted to value her possessions over the people themselves. Although constantly struggling to die to self, as Belle and John would travel in the villages and preach, she would watch the Chinese hearing the gospel for the first time and remember it was all worth it. The Kuhns then moved to Tali, Yunnan from 1930–1932 and then to Yongping, Yunnan from 1932–1934 under the mentorship of J O Fraser. They continued to do itinerary work sharing the gospel as well as training new missionaries to go into un-evangelized areas. In 1934, the Kuhns finally arrived in Lisuland— ten years after Belle first had her heart set to go to the Lisu. They learned that during the rainy season, the Lisu villages practically came to a standstill. Belle took advantage of this time and set up the Rainy Season Bible School, teaching the gospel and the very basics of Christianity to the Lisu. As people began coming to know Christ, she trained them and sent them out to surrounding Lisu villages that had not yet heard the gospel. Thanks to the Rainy Season Bible School, the Lisu Christians were also missions-minded, crossing into other tribes with which they had once warred in order to share the gospel. Although there were certainly difficult times, Isobel saw incredible fruit amongst the Lisu people. In 1950, during the communist takeover of China, Belle and her family were forced to flee over the snowy mountainous pass into Burma. At the time of their escape, sixteen years after the Kuhns began working among the Lisu, 3,400 of the 18,000 Lisu were believers and seven other tribes had been evangelized directly by Lisu missionaries. Today, there are 2,00,000 Lisu Christians—part of the legacy left by Isobel and other missionaries labouring among the Lisu. After leaving China at the age of 50, Isobel had a decision to make—whether or not to continue to work among the Lisu that were living in Northern Thailand. As she wrestled with the decision, she cried out “Lord, I’m tired! I’m 50. In the past twenty years I’ve seen wars, I’ve been separate for months and even years from my husband and children, I’ve been sick to the point of death. Going to Thailand would mean learning a new language and a new place and a new culture. I want to sit in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere and rest!” She felt the Lord gently respond, “Belle, do you really choose ease?” That was enough to get Isobel back to the Lisu, where she laboured the rest of her life. Isobel’s life is a reminder that God has proven Himself sufficient for those who have gone before us in reaching the nations with the gospel of Christ. Isobel was used by the Lord not because she was flawless or better trained or less apt to selfishness, but because she considered Him worthy of her life and responded in precious obedience.
Courtesy History Makers blog
Why Should I Fear? I’m on a Royal Mission! B
orn in 1848 in Scotland, Mary Mitchell Slessor was the second of seven children. She attributed much of her godly character to her upbringing. “I owe a great debt of gratitude to my sainted mother,” said Mary. Her father was an alcoholic, which resulted in a family life of poverty and strife. When she was eleven years old, Mary started working to help provide for her family. Her wages were soon the primary source of income, working ten -hour days to make ends meet. Her life was one long act of self-denial. All her own interests were laid aside for the sake of the family. She was content with bare necessaries as long as they were provided for. Mary was extremely close to her mother as they prayed continually for God’s provision and protection. Mary became a Christian at a young age. She enjoyed going to church; it was a wonderful outlet from her miserable home life. She was not well-educated, but loved to read, and would stay up late soaking up any book she could find. She loved reading the Bible most of all, studying Jesus and his life in the gospels. Mary dreamed of doing pioneer work in the remote interior of Africa. At the time, missions work was mainly for men, so she was encouraged to get involved with home missions. It was her older brother who was planning to go as a missionary, but when Mary was 25 years old, he died. She wondered if maybe she could go in his place. Early in 1874 the news of the death of David Livingstone stirred the church and created a great wave of missionary excitement. Mary was then determined to go!
In 1875, Mary was accepted to go with the Calabar Mission. So, at age 27, she sailed for Calabar (located within present day Nigeria). She was stationed in Duke Town as a school teacher. Her living conditions seemed too nice for a missionary, and she was discouraged at how routine her job was. She learned Efik, the local language quickly, and enjoyed teaching to some degree, but her heart was set on doing pioneer work. After three years, she was sent home on furlough because of malaria. When she returned, she was given a new task in Old Town, where she had the freedom to work by herself and live as she pleased. Mary decided to live with the local people as they lived. Her childhood of poverty made this lifestyle seem fairly normal. And, this way, she was able to save part of her missionary salary to send back to her family in Scotland. Mary began to learn more and more about the culture of the local tribes. Witchcraft, spiritism and cruel tribal customs were hard to fight against. One custom that broke her heart was ‘twin-murder’. The tribes thought that twins were a result of a curse caused by an evil spirit who fathered one of the children. Both babies were brutally murdered and the mother was shunned from society. Overwhelmed and depressed, she knelt and prayed, “Lord, the task is impossible for me but not for Thee. Lead the way and I will follow.” Rising, she said, “Why should I fear? I am on a Royal Mission. I am in the service of the King of kings.” Mary rescued many twins and ministered to their mothers. She was continuously fighting against this evil practice, often risking her life to stop the leaders from killing twins. The Lord gave her favor with the tribesmen, and Mary eventually gained a respect unheard of for a woman.
After only three more years, Mary was sent home on yet another furlough because she was extremely sick. As she returned home, she took Janie, a 6-month-old twin girl she’d rescued. She was home for over three years, staying to look after her mother and sister, who were ill. While home, she would speak to churches and share stories from Africa. Everyone loved Janie and the story of her rescue, it was a powerful testimony. She then returned to Africa again, more determined than ever to pioneer into the interior. She was bold in her ministry and fearless as she traveled from village to village. Mary rescued hundreds of twin babies thrown out into the forest, prevented many wars, stopped the practice of trying to determine guilt by making them drink poison, healed the sick, and told the people about the great God of love whose Son came to earth to die on the cross that sinful men might have eternal life. While in Africa, she received word that her mother and sister had died. Now Mary had no one close to her. She was overcome with loneliness. She wrote, “There is no one to write and tell my stories and troubles and nonsense to.” But she also found a sense of freedom, writing, “Heaven is now nearer to me than Britain, and no one will be anxious about me if I go upcountry.” So, in August of 1888, Mary went north to Okoyong the ‘up-country’ of West Africa. It was an area that had claimed the lives of missionaries in the past, but Mary was sure that pioneer work was best accomplished by women, who were less threatening to unreached tribes than men. For fifteen years she stayed with the Okoyongs, teaching them, nursing them and being a peacemaker, they eventually made her a judge for the whole region.
During one of her sick leaves, she met Charles Morrison. He was a young missionary teacher serving in Duke Town. Although he was 18 years younger than her, they soon fell in love. Mary accepted his marriage proposal, but only after he assured her that he would work with her in Okoyong. Sadly, the marriage never happened. His health did not even allow him to stay in Duke Town, and, for Mary, missionary service came before personal relationships. She was destined to live alone with her adopted children. Mary’s lifestyle consisted of a mud hut (infested with roaches, rats, and ants), an irregular daily schedule (normal in African culture), and simple cotton clothing (instead of the thick petticoats and dresses worn by most European women at the time). The other missionaries were unable to relate to her life. Mary didn’t focus on health precautions or cleanliness much. Although she did suffer from malaria occasionally, she outlived most of her missionary coworkers. She was 55 when she moved on from Okoyong with her seven children to do pioneer work in Itu and other remote areas. She had much fruit with the Ibo people. Janie, her oldest adopted daughter, was a valuable asset in the work. So, for the last ten years of her life, Mary continued doing pioneer work while others came in behind her. Their ministry was made much easier because of her efforts. In 1915, nearly 40 years after coming to Africa, she died at the age of 66 in her mud hut. Mary Slessor has become an inspiration to all who hear her story. She was not only a pioneer missionary, but also a pioneer for women in missions. Courtesy History Makers blog
Brothers, Read Christian Biography John Piper
ebrews 11 is a divine mandate to read Christian biography. The unmistakable implication of the chapter is that, if we hear about the faith of our forefathers (and mothers), we will “lay aside every weight and sin” and “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (12:1). If we asked the author, “How shall we stir one another up to love and good works?” (10:24), his answer would be: “Through encouragement from the living (10:25) and the dead” (chap. 11). Christian biography is the means by which “body life” cuts across the generations.
Why Pastors/Leaders Specifically Need Christian Biography This fellowship of the living and the dead is especially crucial for pastors. As leaders in the church, we are supposed to have vision for the future. We are supposed to declare prophetically where our church should be going. We are supposed to inspire people with great possibilities. Not that God can’t give vision and direction and inspiration. But he also uses human agents to stir up his people. So the question for us pastors/ leaders is: Through what human agents does God give us vision and direction and inspiration? For me, one of the most important answers has been great men and women of faith who, though dead, are yet speaking. Christian biography, well chosen, combines all sorts of things pastors/ leaders need but have so little time to pursue. Good biography is history and guards us against chronological
snobbery (as C S Lewis calls it). It is also theology—the most powerful kind—because it burst forth from the lives of people like us. It is also adventure and suspense, for which we have a natural hunger. It is psychology and personal experience, which deepen our understanding of human nature (especially ourselves). Good biographies of great Christians make for remarkably efficient reading.
My Journey With Christian Biography Since biography is its own best witness, let me tell a little of my own biographical encounter with biographies. Biographies have served as much as any other human force in my life to overcome the inertia of mediocrity. Without them I tend to forget what joy there is in relentless labour and aspiration. I have devoted more time to the life of Jonathan Edwards (good biography of O Winslow) than to any other nonbiblical person. Before he was 20 years old Edwards wrote 70 resolutions which for years have fired my work. Number 6 was: “To live with all my might, while I do live.” Number 11: “When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.” Number 28: “To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.” When I came to be pastor of Bethlehem I began to hunger for biographies to charge my pastoral batteries and give me guidance and encouragement.
Since I believe very much in the pastor-theologian, I recalled not only Edwards but, of course, John Calvin (T H L Parker has a small Portrait and a major biography). How Calvin could work! After 1549 his special charge in Geneva was to preach twice on Sunday and once every day of alternate weeks. On Sunday, August 25, 1549, Calvin began to preach on Acts and continued weekly in that book until March 1554. On weekdays during this time, he preached through eight of the minor prophets as well as Daniel, Lamentations, and Ezekiel. But what amazes me is that between 1550 and 1559 he took 270 weddings. That’s one every other week! He also baptized (about once a month), visited the sick, carried on extensive correspondence and sustained heavy organizational responsibilities.
Men Who Encourage Me When I look at Calvin and Edwards and their output, it is hard for me to feel self-pity at my few burdens. They inspire me to break out of mediocre plodding. T H L Parker (who, by the way, has spent most of his 40 years’ ministry in country parishes) published a short study of Karl Barth in 1970 which I devoured in my middle year in seminary. It had a tremendous impact on me because of two simple sentences. One was: “That evening Barth began [writing] a pamphlet which he finished the next day, a Sunday [13,000 words in a day!].” I responded, “If neo-orthodoxy merits such phenomenal labour, how much more orthodoxy!” The other sentence was, “Barth retired from his chair in Basel in March 1962 and so
lost the stimulus provided by the need to give lectures.” I wrote in the flap of the book, “Has greatness emerged from anything but pressure? If greatness is to be the servant of all, must we not be under authority, under demand, pushed, pressed?”
God’s Various Gifts Recently I have been greatly encouraged in my own pastoral work by Warren Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants and Listening to the Giants. The main reason these mini-biographies have been helpful is seeing the sheer diversity of pastoral styles God has chosen to bless. There have been great and fruitful pastors whose preaching patterns, visitation habits, and personalities were so different that all of us may take courage. One humorous example: Over against the austere Edwards, who measured his food intake so as to maximize his alertness for study, you can put Spurgeon, who weighed more than 300 pounds and smoked cigars. Both men won more converts to Christ than any ten of us will. Spurgeon said to a Methodist critic, “If I ever find myself smoking to excess, I promise I shall quit entirely.” “What would you call smoking to excess?” the man asked. “Why, smoking two cigars at the same time!” was the answer.
sustained him 40 years. “I began to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning... searching into every verse for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found almost invariably is this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation; yet, it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.” I have found Mueller’s way absolutely crucial in my own life: be with the Lord before I am with anyone else and let him speak to me first. One other thing impressed itself on me from Mueller’s life. He prayed with astonishing confidence for supplies for his orphanage. But when his wife became ill with rheumatic fever, he prayed, “Yes, my Father, the times of my darling wife are in Thy hands. Thou wilt do the very best thing for her and for me, whether life or death. If it may be, raise up yet again my precious wife—Thou art able to do it, though she is so ill; but howsoever Thou dealest with me, only help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Thy holy will.” His wife died, and Mueller preached her funeral sermon from Psalm 119:68: “Thou art good and doest good.”
An Example of Powerful Prayer
A More Tragic Example
George Mueller has for years been a pacesetter for me in prayer. His autobiography is a veritable orchard of faith-building fruit. In one section he tells us, after 40 years of trials, “how to be constantly happy in God.” He said, “I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord.” For ten years, he explained, he went at this backward. “Formerly, when I rose I began to pray as soon as possible and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer.” The result: “Often after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.” So Mueller changed his pattern and made a discovery which
What a world of difference between this view of God and the one I found when I read William Barclay’s spiritual autobiography. Barclay lost a daughter at sea, but his response was not that of Mueller: “I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75). Instead Barclay said, “I believe that pain and suffering are never the will of God for His children” (in spite of 1Peter 3:17!). To call a fatal accident an “act of God,” he says, is blasphemous. Barclay’s autobiography is the more depressing when I think how many pastors feed on Barclay for every sermon. He scorns a view of the atonement in which the death of Christ propitiates the wrath of God. And he says, “I am a convinced universalist.” I can’t help wondering whether the
theological weakness of many pulpits is owing to the facile dependence on the anemic theology of commentators like Barclay. I would rather stake my life on the theology of Sarah Edwards. When she heard that her husband Jonathan had died of a smallpox vaccination at the age of 54, she wrote to her daughter: “What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore His goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and He has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us. We are all given to God; and there I am and love to be.”
Grateful for the Living I close with a word of appreciation for a living autobiography—Carl Lundquist, who completes his 28-year presidency of Bethel College and Seminary this month. I was in the middle of Augustus Strong’s autobiography when the opportunity came last May to write Dr Lundquist a letter of appreciation. Strong, who was president of Rochester Seminary for 40 years, gave me the words I needed (which shows the value of biography for sermon illustrations). He wrote, “I have always thought that there must be a future life for canal horses, washerwomen and college presidents; since they do not get their deserts in this life, there must be another life, to justify the ways of God.” Living theology. Flawed and encouraging saints. Stories of grace. Deep inspiration. The best entertainment. Brothers, it is worth your precious hours. Remember Hebrews 11. And read Christian biography. John Piper. ©2015 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org
BOOK REVIEW continued from page 17 “All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” (Exo. 1:4–5) As Israel increased in numbers, the new king of Egypt tormented them with difficult work. Yet, they multiplied more, so they were given more arduous jobs, which they couldn’t bear. They cried out to God, and He sent Moses to deliver them from the bondage. God delivered Israel out of Egypt through mighty acts and deeds. Thus, God demonstrated His power and might to the Egyptians and Israel. After bringing them out, God revealed through Moses the reason for the separation of Israel from all the nations. “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19: 5–6) Israel was to fulfil three purposes: 1 a peculiar people, 2 a kingdom of priests, 3 a Holy Nation. God reminded them of this purpose again many times through prophets like Isaiah. The purpose of Israel was not only the restoration of its own Jewish people, but also they should be a light to the Gentiles by bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. (Isa. 49:6) Though God’s desire for Israel was that they would be a blessing to other nations, they were not willing. God used a reluctant messenger like Jonah who portrayed the attitude of the Israelites. Jonah thought that God should only bless “them” and punish “others”. God showed that He is concerned about “nations” as well. Though Israel failed in reaching out to the nations, God’s purposes never fail. So the prophet Habakkuk declared, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14 nkjv)
400 years later, the New Testament starts with the “seed of Abraham”, Jesus Christ, who would fulfil what Israel failed to do. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1 kjv) Jesus often emphasised that He came to seek the lost, both Jews and Gentiles. After seeing the faith of a Gentile centurion he said, “And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11–12 asv) Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah when He ministered to both the Jews and Gentiles. Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish in a Jewish area (Matt. 14:13–20), and He fed four thousand at Decapolis, a Gentile area. Though Jesus taught and demonstrated His concern for all peoples to His disciples, they were often slow to learn God’s purpose of reaching all nations. We see the frustration of the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus. They said, “We hoped that he would redeem Israel.” Jesus again reminded them of what He had taught them. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24: 44–48) Jesus summarizes the whole story of the Old Testament (Law of Moses, Prophets and the Psalms) into two parts and two important things that should happen. First: Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. Second: Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His
name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. So when Jesus gave the great commission, He was re-emphasizing the promise of God, which was made to Abraham. After the resurrection Jesus commanded them “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ) When more Gentile people were added to the early Church, some Jewish believers argued that the Gentiles should not only believe in Jesus, but also, they should be circumcised as a seal of righteousness. However, Paul says that God justified Abraham before circumcision through faith; thus, Abraham became the father of many nations of those who are circumcised, and those who are not circumcised but believe in Jesus Christ. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all His offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:16–17) So, what is our purpose? As spiritual descendents of Abraham, Peter reminds us that the Church has the same purpose as Israel. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1Peter 2:9 rsv) The purpose of the church is “that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”.
As we come to conclusion of the story in Revelation, we see how God will fulfil His purpose by gathering back all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth;
in him (Eph. 1:10), God gave John the vision of how the end of the story will look. Revelation 5:9—And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation...” Revelation 7:9–10— “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’’ John records the final scenes in Revelation 21—“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 21: 5–6)
Let there be India! Impact of the Bible on Nation-Building
What is done? In the chapters before Revelation, God was done with all the enemies and now the bride is ready for the marriage. The bride is His Church, which consists of all people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Hallelujah. “God will dwell with His people and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them as their God, eternally.” (Rev 21:1–4) Our God is the God of Purpose. We saw how He plans it, carries it out, and completes it. Interestingly, God wants to accomplish it through us, who are Abraham’s descendants. God blessed us to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Even today, many people groups have not received this blessing, which He has prepared for them. So let us ask of the nations, which is His inheritance (Psalms 2:7,8) and go out to make known His salvation among all peoples (Psalms 67:2). This article is based on the articles in Perspectives Course Reader. Shibu K Mathew is a mission educator and mobilizer based in Bangalore.
A historic and contemporary research on the pioneering contribution of Christian missions and Bible translators in making India a modern nation by transforming Indian languages, literature, linguistics, education, printing, journalism and culture. Author: Dr Babu K Verghese Pages: 750 Price: `1400/Publishers: WoC Chennai and Media Concerns, Mumbai Contact Address: 6 Bethel, Prabhat Colony, Road No. 6, Santacruz (E), Mumbai 400055 Phone: 022-26180192 / 09819037122 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Did Christians Develop or Destroy India? Gospel Workers in India, a new doctoral research under a secular university has provided irrefutable data proving that it was the Bible that created modern India. It is now published as a book titled, Let there be India! Impact of Bible on Nation Building by Dr Babu K Verghese.
BOOK REVIEW The book is a gripping research
on the contribution of Christian missionaries and Bible translators to the development of Indian languages, literature, linguistics, education, printing, journalism and culture. For instance, did we know that most Indian languages were developed by the early Christian Missionaries—from alphabet to grammar to phonetics, dictionaries, everything. Did we know that these very people helped eradicate inhuman evils like sati, child marriage, infanticide and others, and even worked in laying down our nation’s constitution? The education system, journalism, printing... they were the ones who developed it all. With names, dates and other relevant evidence within its covers, Let there be India! details out the not-tobe-forgotten contribution of Bible missionaries and Christian missions towards the building of our beloved nation, India. They paid with their sweat, blood, tears and lives so that today, we could be reading this. As Christians, we have been privy to such information for centuries. And we have silently gloated over these realities within the cozy confines of our homes and churches. Unconsciously, we have buried these facts and allowed the world outside to propagate the lie that Christians are foreigners and that Christian missionaries have destroyed the Indian culture. Our silence has been our consent. This book breaks that silence. It begins with the history of Indians emigrating from the Middle East land of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah who survived the Great Flood. ‘Nation’ being the idea of God (Genesis10:32), India was in the mind of God, says the author. Being a melting pot of many races, Indians mainly come from six ethnic groups: Negrito, Austrics, Mongoloids, Dravidian, Western Brachyphals and Nordic Aryans. Moreover, the current Indian population includes many more foreign races.
Tracing the route of how the Gospel of Jesus arrived into India, the book records the various historic references claiming that Christianity came to India between ad 50 and 60, brought by disciples of Jesus in the beginning and later by Bible missionaries. The book breaks the notion that it was the British and other western foreign invaders who introduced Christianity to India. For example, till 1813, no Christian missionary was allowed to enter India by the British Government. That is why when William Carey arrived in Calcutta in 1793, he was forbidden to land. The book clearly distinguishes between the foreign empires which looted India and the Bible missionaries who sacrificed their lives for the prosperity of India. Based on his analysis of over 100 Indian languages, the author has proved that Bible missionaries as pioneers developed 85 dictionaries, 116 grammar books and 45 newspapers in these languages between 150 and 200 years ago when India had nothing of these. Also, modernization of the script in most of these languages was the work of these Bible translators. In the field of literature, in most Indian languages, there was no prose. By publishing Bible portions in vernacular as pioneers, these missionaries introduced prose to India. Also, in many Indian languages, the first novel, drama, travelogue or biography was published by these missionaries. The author has produced details of these from 22 scheduled languages of India. In the area of linguistics, details on the historical development of the science of language and translation principles are given in the book, with pioneering contribution by Bible translators. In education, the contribution of Christian missions to India is most acknowledged, from kindergarten to Universities. Details from most regions of the country are given in the book. For example, the first university in India was established in Serampore in 1818
by the Serampore missionaries, William Carey, William Ward and Joshua Marshman. Also the first schools for girls, slaves, the blind and deaf were also missionary ventures. In printing, the first press was established by missionaries in 1556 in Goa, followed by units in Tranquebar in 1700 and Serampore in 1800, spreading the network of printing presses throughout India. In journalism, the first vernacular news-paper was published in Bengali and Hindi by Serampore missionaries in 1818, besides an English journal, Friend of India. In most of other Indian languages also, it was the missionaries who produced the first newspaper or journal. With all these pioneering development efforts, the missionaries effected major socioeconomic transformation in India. The book gives scores of stories of social transformation all over India. The author’s claim that it was the Bible that created modern India is well-substantiated. The research is on the history of these changes and some of the agents of change in India—the makers, movers, builders and reformers of our nation; those who triggered national renaissance, engineered social revolution, and enlightened, empowered and transformed fellow men and women. This is a brief sketch of India’s journey from traditions to modernity, insular to global, national to international. The story of blood, sweat, and tears.
70 Great Christians has become a publishing phenomenon! It is a consistent best seller in Christian Bookshops and has found markets all around the World. The Story of the Church is a story of people moved by God to achieve things for his glory. Some are from privileged back-grounds but the majority started out as ordinary people just like you. God says that he will ‘choose the foolish things of this world to confound the wise’ and so here we find people who are prepared to stand up to the spirit of the age and become fools for Christ’s sake. This is a useful resource book for pastors, teachers and schools. More than that it is a well written and comprehensive collection of biographies of those people who have given all (some-times mistakenly) for the God they sought to serve. Title: Author: Edition: Publisher: ISBN: Pages:
70 Great Christians: The Story of the Christian Church Geoffrey Hanks 2, illustrated, reprinted Christian Focus, 1992 1871 6768 00 9781 8716 7680 8 368
This is history at its best. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya is readable, informative, gripping, and above all honest. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya helps readers understand the life and role of a missionary through real life examples of missionaries throughout history. We see these men and women as fallible and human in their failures as well as their successes. These great leaders of missions are presented as real people, and not super-saints. This second edition covers all 2,000 years of mission history with a special emphasis on the modern era, including chapters focused on the Muslim world, Third World missions, and a comparison of missions in Korea and Japan. It also contains both a general and an “illustration” index where readers can easily locate particular missionaries, stories, or incidents. New design graphics, photographs, and maps help make this a compelling book. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya is as informative and intriguing as it is inspiring— an invaluable resource for missionaries, mission agencies, students, and all who are concerned about the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. Title: From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biograohical History of Christian Missions Author: Ruth A Tucker Publisher: Zondervan, 2011 ISBN: 0310 8306 21 9780 3108 3062 7 Pages: 528
The heavens declare it Joshua Sikhamani
n recent months, many in the scientific community have been keenly following the ‘awakening’ of spacecraft Rosetta from its 12-year slumber, followed by its unprecedented rendezvous with the comet Churyamov-Gerasimenko. For the first time, scientists have managed to land a craft on a comet. One purpose for this $2billion endeavour, according to scientists, is to study what comets are composed of, thereby shedding light on the origin of the universe, and the mystery of how life began on earth. It is material from a comet “millions of years ago” that supposedly led to the origin and evolution of life on our planet. We, as believers in the true Creator, know for a fact how absurd that is. Not only is that an astronomical (pun intended) sum of money to answer a redundant question, but it is amazing how people will refuse to accept the obvious in favour of the most impossible theory, as long as it does not involve the acknowledgement of the existence of God. Driving back home some weeks ago, I couldn’t help but stare at the bright full moon in all its splendour, hanging there in nothingness, looking absolutely beautiful. It was just so mesmerizing to watch that glowing ball of light just suspended there in space.
The psalmist, in Psalm 19 begins by saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork...” and then goes on to explain how they speak, without saying a word, of their great Maker, day after day, night after night. The poet, Joseph Addison, echoed these very thoughts 300 years ago in a beautifully-written hymn, when he wrote: The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heavens, a shining frame Their great Original proclaim. Th’unwearied sun, from day to day, Does his Creator’s powers display, And publishes to every land The work of an almighty hand. Soon as the evening shades prevail The moon takes up the wondrous tale, And nightly to the listening earth Repeats the story of her birth;... We sometimes tend to think of God and Science as opposite ends of our spectrum of belief... we can either believe in God or in science, but not both. The truth, however, is that every law that nature follows was put in place by the Creator Himself. And when we come to the realization that all that we see around us, every rule that governs the universe, every instinct that guides every animal and every creature that dis-
plays the miracle of life, was ordained by Him, the all-powerful Almighty God, the study of science takes on a whole new meaning. The Psalmist, David, understood God’s hand in his own creation, when he declared in Psalm 139:14: “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Would to God that our souls might know right well what He alone has done—that we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). And may we not ever fail to acknowledge each day of our lives, the glory, splendour and majesty of the God who made it all. Joshua Sikhamani is a freelance Graphic Designer based in Bangalore.