I was reading the lives of missionaries in the previous centuries through my studies in Perspectives class. It encouraged me a lot. God spoke into me comfort, and lovingly lifted me up with their writings.
I saw that God evolved His movements around the leaders He raised at particular periods in history, and He raised anyone who devoted their lives for advancing His Kingdom with a laser focus. Their clear conscience and the mind devoted to thinking God’s matter encouraged me. I personally very much wanted to go back to the old days, where it was a time-space with much lesser noises and distractions as in the city life nowadays. They wrote with their whole hearts, prayed with their whole hearts and then worked for God unreservedly with their whole hearts.
Hudson Taylor’s piece of writing strikes the chord deep in my heart the most while he described his yearning to just do something, albeit trivial to God. His description of that unspeakable awe and joy after dedicating himself to the Lord was exactly the gift God gives to those close to Him – which drove them further to pursue greater things for Him. His honest sharing of his difficulty in the writing helped me and surely many others to walk the narrow road of God.
I am also encouraged by his waiting in the Lord with faith, he taught me how to wait in faith as I am going through a period of waiting myself. He demonstrated that amidst of waiting is God’s wonderful plan, and waiting often means something very difficult will come in the future. It is an essential time of preparation for that hardship. Taylor made use of the time to live under a lesser than comfort condition, devoted himself in studying the Word of God and praying for the fields. He mentioned the Hope of the coming of the Lord was the strongest motive for consecration and service, i.e. the Hope of the heavenly new Kingdom on Earth and the joy of heaven, which happened to be the same for our dear Lord Christ Jesus (Heb.12:2).
That is a true thing that we have to make a real choice between mammon and God, when our heart is focused so intensely on God, we are willing to let go of our material possessions and comfort for the joy of being closer to Him.
He also talked about the absolute faith that God will answer prayers, and his unbelief hindered God’s plan. Fervent prayers is the key to all missionary movements as missions are God’s own work but not work of our strength. I happened to read of the story of Dr Juan Carlos Finlay at the same time. He stood strong for 20 years in his belief that mosquitoes are the carrier of yellow fever transmission when all people tried to ridicule his claim. Often times in cultivating a big movement of God, He asked our previous pioneers to do the same – persistent and long-term praying standing strong in faith. I think this is the test of faith God is giving this generation, which is so used to the tangible things that can be seen, felt and experienced. If we can mobilize more people devoting in sincere prayers, God will prepare workers Himself instead of us trying to equip them in our own plans.
”Yet, what was I to do? The feeling of blood-guiltiness became more and more intense. Simply because I refused to ask for them, the laborers did not come forward – did not go out to China – and every day tens of thousands were passing away to Christless graves! Perishing China so filled my heart and mind that there was no rest by day, and little sleep by night, till health broke down.”-H.Taylor.
Taylor had that crystal clear conscience which he could hear God and repent from unbelief from time to time. The way He felt guilt was driven by His intense love for God and His beloved people, which touched the deepest of my heart. Yearning for partners of the same sentiment, he encouraged me to keep praying for His plan and preparation in this waiting before He send me out into a field of His will.
Apart from Taylor’s testimony, going through the history enabled me to see the biggest picture of God’s movement across centuries since Christ ascended to heaven. I also learnt a lot about the strategies and principles that the missionaries were inspired to use throughout the history – how they combat in cross-cultural challenges and how important it is to help the indigenous churches to thrive. Decline can be seen if the gospel is not carefully planted in one place, or if the churches are not revisited periodically. It happened in the same way in Apostle Paul’s days. Definitely workers are needed to stay in those young churches to help them thrive until they became an ‘adult’ church who can take care of her own, otherwise if false doctrines are developed it is hard to eradicate afterwards and it can spread like wild fire that can hinder further gospel work. God also helped me see the importance of translation of Bible to local churches.
I am grateful to see the witnesses of the faithful servant’s testimonies and God’s movement throughout the entire history in such a detailed account with many wholehearted writings. His plan is so clear. The command He gave us in Matt 28:18-21 that we need to go to the ends of the earth with His gospel, has been manifested in a gigantic movement till in Mandryk’s survey, only 28% of people are unreached. He’s definitely moving among the people – a pounding evidence of His presence for our heathen friends or the agnostics. Even not with this seeable merciful evidence, just with the faith as described in Hebrews 11, let us continue to bring this same Hope to the remaining the most difficult places on earth.
I am truly blessed by the cloud of witnesses that God surrounded me in mercy.