Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Something to Think About

Parents, imagine receiving a letter in the mail from a potential "suitor" for one of your beloved daughters that reads something like this:

"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter
early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from the heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?"

That was a letter written by the young missionary Adoniram Judson, taken from the biography of his life, To the Golden Shore" by Courtney Anderson. The father, John Hasseltine, left the decision to his daughter Nancy (also known as Ann), giving her his blessing. She would later die on the field of Burma, making this letter a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This was back in the 1800's, and a lot has changed in missions since then, but dying on the field isn't necessarily out of the question, as we have seen missionaries killed in such fields as the Philippines, Mexico, and South America.

Back at a missionary conference at our home church in New York, I surrendered all of my children to the mission field, if that is what the Lord would see fit to do in their lives. After all, their entire upbringing centered around world missions, first in Mexico, then in Rochester NY as they saw their father work tirelessly in the jail to preach the gospel, and then as he surrendered to return to the foreign mission field later in life. Our children always had world missions in front of them, whether attending mission conferences, or serving as missionaries themselves, holding backyard Bible clubs, taking mission trips, and sacrificing financially to support missionaries abroad. It was as if it was in their blood, and what drove our family and gave us purpose.

I am reminded of the late Jim Elliot, who gave his life trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador, who wrote in his diary:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Also, the words of Jesus Christ himself, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16: 25,26

So as Christian parents, it is not wise to hinder your children in pursuing God's will for their life. If you think being a missionary is too difficult, too dangerous, too much suffering, remember, the safest place for anyone is in the center of God's will.


Rosebud said...

I've read that book--it is such a good one; and that letter gives one a lot to think about!

chip said...

We really don't give up as much in our present day as did those of the past...good to remember when we are feeling lonely for them. I thank God for planes and webcams, he is so merciful!

Carolee's Corner Canary Islands said...

I agree with you chip. They even put their young children on a ship, sending them back to the states so they would have a chance to grow to adulthood. I don't think I could have done that. I am thankful for the path they pioneered for the rest of us.