I recently came across a quote from Mary Slessor, a missionary to Nigeria in the early 1900s, that refuses to be filed away in my Evernote system.
“Where are the men? Are there no heroes in the making among us? No hearts beating high with the enthusiasm of the gospel? Men smile nowadays at the old-fashioned idea of sin and hell and broken law and a perishing world, but these ideas made men, men of purpose, of power, and achievement, and self-denying devotion to the highest ideals earth has known.” (Quoted from John G. Paton: Missionary to the Cannibals of the South Seas by Paul Schlehlein p. 92)
Mary lamented when she heard about an event on global missions in 1910 in Scotland. This meeting, it was hoped, would stir global efforts to engage the least-reached with the gospel even more than had been in previous years through the efforts of giants like John Paton and others. But the meeting did nothing of the sort.
Her lament keeps churning in my soul.
"Where are the men?" has gripped me. Bothered me. Prodded me. I long to answer Mary, "Here, Mary! Here are the men you long for and women like yourself." I firmly believe some of you reading this blog could be the answer to her heart's cry.
Low ambitions for the gospel in Mary's day had a source: liberalism. It wasn't the modern political slant on that word that had hollowed out their souls. This liberalism crept into the camp and the convictions that drove the high ambitions of missionaries like John Paton had been replaced with more modern views. The fundamentals that fueled missionary zeal had been pushed to the periphery. The grief over a perishing world and the grit to get the gospel to them no matter what the cost had been replaced by a indifferent "smile". Fervency had cooled in the lukewarm waters of liberal thinking.
It can happen to us as well. Fuzzy thinking will never empower big, broad souls willing to take on the world that desperately needs Christ. That sense of desperation is diluted by the assumption that the nations will be okay without hearing the good news of the saving Christ. I think we, too, need to be re-gripped by the "old-fashioned" ideas of the core convictions that made the sacrifices of global missions reasonable and necessary.
This is a list of the sobering beliefs that must get into our bloodstream if our hearts are going to beat "high with enthusiasm of the gospel":
Jesus will receive worldwide adoration and He is worthy of it all (Revelation 5:8-10, 7:9-10, Isaiah 52:12-53:12, Romans 1:5, 16:25-27).
God’s purpose of grace cannot be derailed or frustrated. God will secure his people He set apart for his own glory and grace (Ephesians 1:3-14, 2 Timothy 1:8-12, 2:9-10, John 17).
Heaven and hell are real, eternal destinations for every individual. Judgment day is coming when everyone must stand before God and give account. No one is innocent as everyone has sinned in the likeness of Adam (Revelation 14:9-12, Romans 3:9-20, Acts 10:42, Matthew 25:31-34, Romans 5:12-21).
Death and sin have only one remedy in Jesus Christ. The only way to heaven is through faith in Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
The gospel message is powerful to save everyone who believes (Romans 1:16-17, 1 Cor. 1:21).
- God designed the gospel to save as it is heard and believed upon (2 Cor. 4:1-6, Ephesians 1:13, 1 Cor. 1:18, Rom. 10:9-11).
As these truths grip you, consider this global reality: nearly 3 billion people still live outside the reach of the gospel. We call these the "least-reached" peoples of the world.
To summarize their situation through the lens of these statements would go something like this: These nations have yet to see the all-satisyfing glory of Jesus. They go about their everyday lives either under the illusion that they can earn their salvation or under the oppression of despair. They know nothing of God's plan of grace. They cannot bypass the coming judgment. They live under the reign of sin and death. Their ears have yet to hear the good news. They still live without God and without hope in the world. (Eph. 2:12)
Think on that. The nations are anything but okay without Christ.
What if we were to take a day this week and pray over these six statements, Scriptures, and truths? What if these convictions were to lodge deep within us, stretching our ambitions to match the grandness of Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations?
As you pray and your heart begins beating "high with the enthusiasm of the gospel", here are some next steps to engage the nations through The Church at Brook Hills:
Open your eyes around your campus and city - the nations have come to Birmingham and we can engage them now. There are even opportunities to be friends and engage them now.
Pray earnestly for the progress of the gospel around the globe. Connect with Global team about good resources available on prayer.
Steward your built-in breaks well. Spring breaks and summer breaks are great opportunities to go short-term or mid-term. We, as a church, engage with partners that are focused on getting the gospel to the least-reached.
Enter the global equipping pipeline. Global Team has 4 modules it will be doing each month in the Spring on topics pertinent to global missions to equip those whom are being sent. Anyone can join these. Contact Alison for more information.
Consider what it will take to go long-term. It could affect your decision on a major or what languages you might take while you are in school. Start a conversation with us by emailing Andrew W.
By God's mercy, there is still time to get the news to them.