“I will open Africa up to the gospel or die trying.”
– Rowland Bingham (1872-1942), founder of SIM
“I want to remind the committee that within six months they will probably hear that one of us is dead. But when that news comes, do not be cast down, but send someone else immediately to take the vacant place.”
– Alexander Mackay (1849 –1890) missionary to Uganda
“Though many missionaries may fall in the fight, yet the survivors will pass over the slain into the trenches and take this great African fortress for the Lord.”
– Johan Krapf, missionary to East Africa, lost his wife and two children within months of arriving in Africa.
“The way I see it, we ought to be willing to die. In the military, we were taught that to obtain our objectives we had to be willing to be expendable. Missionaries must face that same expendability.”
– Nate Saint, missionary pilot, martyred along with four others evangelizing the Huaorani of Ecuador.
“We died before we came here.” — J. James Calvert (Said James to the ship captain dropping him off on Fiji, as he warned; “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.”)
“Look at the heathen without Christ and you will find an altar …and may God help you to be the sacrifice.” – Warren Chastain
“The light that shines the furthest, shines the brightest at home.” – Fred Donnelson
An effective missionary needs to be a person who diligently studies the Bible to discover God’s Will and who is determined to obey it. Obedience is the best commentary on the Bible. As Martin Luther said, “I rather obey than work miracles!”
From this foundation of prayerful study of God’s Word needs to develop true Christian character. This cannot be hastily done. Steadfast Christian character is the product of years of prayer and Bible study and the cultivated habit of responding to God’s Word in repentance, faith and obedience.
It involves a teachable heart and a willingness to accept rebuke and discipline. This is absolutely essential in missionary service because of the difficult tasks required, in the often harsh climates and inhospitable terrains, with the inevitable cross-cultural confusions and misunderstandings – mistakes and failures are inevitable. Resolving inter-personal disputes, overcoming obstacles and enduring criticisms are all part of the job description.
The measure of a person’s real character is how he works when no-one is watching. If you choose an act, you create a habit, if you create a habit, you shape a character. If you shape a character, You determine a destiny. As D L Moody said: “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
And one of the marks of Christian character is integrity – the unshakeable commitment to be true to one’s word. This is important because missions are built upon relationships of trust. We have a sacred trust to honour – with God, the churches and supporters who send us out and those to whom we are sent. There must never be any doubt that you as a Christian missionary will be true to your word, keep your promises and fulfill all your obligations.
Finally, willingness to go. Gladys Aylward, missionary to China, expressed it this way:
“I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China . . . I don’t know who it was . . . It must have been a man . . . a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he wasn’t willing . . . And God looked down . . . and saw Gladys Aylward . . . And God said – ‘Well, she’s willing!’”
And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written: “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”