Old Books, New Treasures

Old books, new treasures

While organizing my missionary books I came across a small volume (about 3” x 5”) entitled Missionary Daily Text Book, published by The Religious Tract Society. There is no author or compiler listed nor publication date, though by the looks of the binding, endpapers, and pages it was probably printed in the late 1800’s.

The book has entries for each day of the year and highlights missionary themed scriptures and quotes along with notable missionary events for each date.  I’d like to share a few entries from this week.

The Judsons

February 19 – Adoniram Judson sailed for India, 1812. Mark 10:27 With God all things are possible.

Judson and his wife Ann sailed for India, but God redirected them to Burma (modern Myanmar) where they endured privation, suspicion, false accusation, imprisonment, starvation, the death of children, and finally the death of Ann.

Bud God allowed the translation of the Scriptures to survive and eventually many Burmese were won to Christ.  Our friend pastors a church in Calgary where a number of the Karen tribe from Burma worship.  They trace their spiritual ancestry back to relatives who were won to Christ by the work of the Judsons.

Longfellow poem

February 21 – Longfellow poem (taken from Hymn for My Brother’s Ordination)
And evermore beside him on his way
The unseen Christ shall move,
That he may lean upon His arm and say
Dost Thou, dear Lord, approve?

James Gilmour and Mtesa – Answers to prayer  EmilyPrankard411px-Gilmourjames

February 22 – James Gilmour sails for China, 1870
Mtesa’s request for missionaries given through H. M. Stanley    

James Gilmour was used of God to share the gospel in China and Mongolia.  His had the blessing of ministering with Mr. and Mrs. Meech, but longed for a companion – a wife – to share in his life. Not having any prospects nearby, he asked God to clearly direct and provide a wife.  His coworkers opened their lives to him and often read letters from home to the bachelor.  After seeing a picture of Mrs. Meech’s sister, and hearing her letters read in his company, James, having never meet Emily, decided to write and ask for her hand in marriage.  She accepted and God gave them a number of years of joyful marriage and ministry together in Asia.

Mtesa was the King (or Emperor) of Uganda who was converted to Christ.  He sent a message back with H.M. Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame) to send more missionaries.  God blessed that request by calling a number of missionaries to Africa.

The view from history

Sometimes in obeying God’s leading we feel like failures or as if we are wasting our time.  Nothing is happening!  God does not seem to be answering our prayers!  We’re enduring such opposition!  These entries remind us that sometimes we don’t see immediate answers to prayer in our spiritual efforts.   It is essential that we walk with God, obey His direction for each of our lives, and leave the results with Him.  History will better display the eternal effectiveness of our Christian labors than what we are able to observe in the here and now.

photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EmilyPrankard.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gilmourjames.jpg

Reading About Gladys

Reading about Gladys

This past week I have been reading the books from my library about Gladys Aylward.  I’m working on a series of missionary stories Gladys Aylwardfor kids, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but am realizing I won’t always be able to whip out a story a week as I had hoped.  Though I am using only the books from my own personal library as source material, I have multiple books on some of the missionaries and it takes time to read or re-read these books.

So many books, so little time

I have read seven books and three articles on Gladys this past week and have two more books to go. One of the benefits of doing this concentrated reading on one subject is that you can understand the person from more than one perspective.  I love seeing how God uses such a wide diversity of people to accomplish His purposes!

Gladys loved God

So what have I learned from reading about Gladys Aylward?  I have been reminded that it is not education, station in life or natural giftedness that God is looking for.  Gladys was a terrible student and may have possibly had a learning disability.  She was from a working class family and was unremarkable in appearance and abilities.  But she loved her God and obeyed His leading. Her friends thought she was crazy, the mission board she wanted to work under rejected her, and most in her circle of acquaintances thought she was irresponsible for heading off to serve God in China with little more than her certainty that God wanted her there.

Child-like faith

Over and over again in her life Gladys demonstrated sincere child-like faith in God and His abilities.  And over and over again God proved Himself faithful to Gladys.  Her story is remarkable and I have been blessed by reading it.  And remember, her God is our God and He is the same today as He was in her lifetime.

So I will soldier on reading my Aylward books and hopefully soon write a kid’s missionary story as well as an overview of her life for adults.  Thanks for sticking with me!!

Miss Annie Soper Missionary to Peru

Dawn Beyond the Andes by Phyllis Thompson (Regions Beyond Missionary Union, London 1955) is a wonderful missionary biography about Miss Annie Soper, missionary nurse to the unreached regions of eastern Peru in the 1920’s.

Annie Soper was certain God had called her to serve Him in Peru, but health issues resulted in rejection by the sponsoring mission board.  Instead, she ventured alone to Lima and worked as a lone Protestant nurse in a Catholic hospital.  Annie showed the love of Christ by lovingly and carefully caring for her patients.  For her testimony and Christ-motivated care for her patients, Annie was shunned, resented, and eventually poisoned by someone on the hospital staff.

As Annie recovered she continued to hear about remote villages east of the Andes deemed inaccessible to westerners where no missionary had ever ventured.  Though these villages had Catholic priests, the people had never heard of the Bible or salvation through faith in Christ alone.  Medical help was scarce in these areas and Annie’s heart remained burdened for the spiritual and physical needs of these villagers.

A missionary doctor crossed paths with Annie and with great compassion told about the village of Moyobama which he felt could serve as a hub for medical and evangelistic outreaches.  “Can’t you go there, Miss Soper?” was his pleading question that the Holy Spirit used to clearly direct her to strike out to serve in faith.

First by steamer, then by train, and finally by mule, Annie and her nursing friend Rhonda Gould ventured across the Andes into the unknown.  Many near death experiences met them along the rugged path to their new calling. Yet God protected them and brought them safely to Moyobamba.

Even their essential medical efforts were resisted at first but God directed them to wrap their medicines in Gospel tracts and eventually hearts melted, superstitions were set aside, and souls were saved.  One of their first converts, Eduardo, graduated from Bible school and returned as pastor to his fellow villagers in Moyobama.

Dawn Beyond the Andes is an inspiring book about a woman who in simple faith obeyed and served God!

This book is out of print and can be found used through online booksellers such as www.Addall.com   www.AbeBooks.com  and www.amazon.ca

Reading Which Glorifies God, part 2 Missionary Biography Suggestions

Reading Which Glorifies God part 2 – Missionary Biography Suggestions 

The missionary biographies below are among my favorites. I have a list of “Fifty Favorite” missionary biographies which I have read, learned from, and recommend to others.  Some overviews are posted in the Book Blurbs section of this blog with more coming in the future.  God has taught me a great deal through reading about struggles and victories these godly men and women experienced.  Many of these books are currently available in e-book format, some of them offered without charge.  I hope you will be able to find and read these books, or others like them, to the glory of God!

To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson

To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson chronicles the life of Adoniram Judson, one of the first missionaries to leave North American in obedience to God’s call.  He and his wife left New England in the early 1800’s with no promise of ever seeing home or family ever again.  Modes of communication were limited to letters or word of mouth; a letter could take up to a year to reach its intended recipient.  The Judsons ministered over six years to the Burmese people before one professed Christ.  All of the Judson’s children died due to illness or harsh living conditions, none of them surviving to school age.  Adoniram painstakingly learned the language, wrote it down, worked on a dictionary and laboriously translated the scriptures into the Burmese language so that these people could know the truth.  He was falsely imprisoned as a spy and tortured during a war in 1812.  Adoniram, starving, ill, and completely worn was released from prison just a few short weeks before his wife died.  After a period of great despair, new avenues of ministry were opened up to him and many confessed the Lord.

The life of Adoniram Judson reminds me of the following verses: Luke 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he  cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:27 “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

How I Know God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth

How I Know God Answers Prayer is a poignant, personal account of God’s direct dealing with the Goforth family during their years of missionary service in China.  Mrs. Goforth honestly lays out her own struggles with sinful attitudes that quenched or grieved the Holy Spirit and hindered prayer.  She reverently wonders at miraculous deliverance from the hands of murderous Chinese rebels (Boxers) bent on eliminating all foreigners.  God literally stayed the hands of these murderers on several occasions as the Goforths traveled by cart in their escape from the interior of China.   Weapons aimed directly at them glanced off, leaving little more than a scratch; when attacked by the rebels, Mr. Goforth was saved from a final death blow by a horse collapsing to the ground in front of him and separating him from his attackers. Strangers offered them protection knowing they would be killed instantly if caught aiding the “foreign devils.”  God did answer prayer and brought them safely through this ordeal.

On furlough in Canada, Rosalind recounts the many provisions of food, clothing, accommodation and unexpected gifts for herself, her husband and her six children.  At the turn of the century tinned foods and store bought clothes were expensive, so clothing was generally sewn at home and fruits and vegetables home canned.  Repeatedly God laid it on the hearts of various people to give clothes to, or offer to sew for, the Goforths as well as give them fresh and canned fruit and vegetables.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Goforth were engaged as speakers in various churches.  This schedule prevented Rosalind from sewing and canning as she needed so these provisions were a specific answer to prayer for her.

A particular time of testing came for Rosalind when her husband proposed moving their work further into the interior of China. Four of their children had already died and fearful for the lives of her remaining children in an unsanitary, disease-ridden area, Rosalind refused her consent.  Her husband admonished her and reminded her that the safest place for their children was in the will of God.  When she continued in her refusal, Jonathan warned her that he feared for the children. The next day a son became seriously ill, rallied, and then another child grew ill and died.

“In the moments that followed God revealed Himself to me in such love and majesty and glory that I gave myself up to him with unspeakable joy.  Then I knew that I had been making an awful mistake, and that I could indeed safely trust my children to him wherever he might lead.  One thing only seemed plain, that I must follow where God should lead.  I saw at last that God must come first.”

They began preparations for the move right away.   From that moment on her family suffered little sickness and the lives of their other children were spared.  We read in Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”  Rosalind learned this lesson through these experiences.

Rosalind Goforth penned several other books which are well worth reading including among others:

1.  Goforth of China

2.  Climbing

3.  Miracle Lives of China

4.  Chinese Diamonds for the King of Kings

By Searching by Isobel Kuhn

By Searching opens to us the struggle of Canadian Isobel Miller as the world entices her from one direction and the Lord calls from another.  A bright intelligent girl, Isobel attempted to lead a worldly life and still have a Christian testimony. She learned through many hardships that God expects the believer to be holy and dedicated solely to Him without divided loyalties.  God brought a lovely older Christian lady into Isobel’s life.  This woman encouraged her in the things of the Lord, prayed constantly for her, gave her a godly example and kindly admonished her when necessary.  Isobel was able to attend a Bible college and had to trust the Lord to provide to pay her bills while there.  She felt this exercise in faith laid the groundwork for trusting the Lord while engaged in missionary service in China.  God called Isobel to China and later called her to marry fellow missionary candidate John Kuhn.  Isobel’s books are engaging compilations of her work among the Lisu tribe on the Chinese boarder.  Isobel learned as a young woman that “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13

Isobel’s other books include:

1.  Precious Things of the Lasting Hills

2.  Nests Above the Abyss

3.  Stones of Fire

4.  Ascent to the Tribes

5.  Green Leaf in Drought Time

6.  In the Arena

John Paton – an Autobiography

John Paton-An Autobiography is a two-volume read which allows us to look into the life of this Scottish missionary to the cannibals of the South Seas Islands.  Fervently believing God wanted him to give the gospel to those who had never heard, John Paton embarked on his missionary endeavors with great intensity.  His attempts to win the natives to the Lord were met with suspicion.  Repeatedly his life was threatened, his goods stolen, his health broken.  His first wife and son died from the tropical fevers so common in the area.  Various traders in their ships tried to stop Paton from evangelizing the islanders fearing it would affect their opportunities to trade on the islands. Yet John persevered and after a number of years many came to know the Lord.

Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor in its original form is a two-volume detailed account of the life of the founder of the China Inland Mission, James Hudson Taylor.  In a time when Europeans dressed and acted as Europeans wherever they lived in the world, Taylor’s decision to dress, eat and live as the Chinese was shocking.  Also shocking to some was his concept that God and God alone should be consulted for the means to live.  While still in medical school Hudson determined to live as ascetically as possible and to ask God only for things he needed.  He felt that he must learn to live by faith first in England or he would never be able to trust God in far-away China.  Taylor’s faith was stretched as he waited upon God to provide for him, and he found God faithful to meet every need.  From this early lesson grew the understanding that God could and would do amazing things for those who believe wholeheartedly in Him. Hudson Taylor reflected the truths found in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Other good books by or about Hudson Taylor include:

1.  Hudson Taylor and Maria by J.C. Pollock

2.  A Retrospect by J. Hudson Taylor

3.  It Is Not Death to Die by Jim Cromarty

4.  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by J. Hudson Taylor

Darlene Deibler Rose – Missionary Example in Times of Discouragement

Darlene Deibler Rose – Missionary Example in Times of Discouragement is used in conjunction with the lesson on Discouragement.

Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose is the autobiographical work of a young missionary wife imprisoned during WWII. Darlene McIntosh was only 19 years old when she married Russell Deibler, a veteran missionary and a man twelve years her senior. After six months of church meetings in North America and six months of language study in Holland, the Deiblers eagerly returned to Russell’s pioneer missionary work in the interior of New Guinea. Darlene accompanied Russell into the jungle to establish a new mission station near a previously unevangelized tribe. Darlene, the first white woman any of them had ever seen, grew to deeply love these child-like primitive people she was ministering to.

WW II reached them in January 1942 after the Deiblers had served in New Guinea for three years. The Japanese took control of the area and herded all foreigners into prisoner of war camps, interring the men in one location and the women and children in another. No communication was allowed between the two camps and Darlene never saw Russell again, learning of her husband’s death three months after his fatal illness. As a result of Russell’s death God gave Darlene a miraculous opportunity to freely witness of God’s love and salvation to the Japanese commander of the prison camp

Abuse and atrocities were inflicted on the imprisoned women and children, and many of them died as a result. Despite being so young, Darlene was a recognized leader among the women and was soon appointed as barracks leader. Her Christian testimony was clear and unwavering in the face of continual privations and troubles.

Near the end of the war Darlene was accused of being a spy for the Americans against the Japanese. She was moved from a prisoner of war camp to a death prison where she was the only female inmate. Severe malnutrition, serious illness, and discouragement engulfed her as she was tortured, deprived and humiliated in that prison. She could not sense God’s presence and was despondent until God reminded her of a verse she had learned as a child, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Still in her twenties, her hair whitened, and so ill she was unable to stand on her feet, Darlene called out to God with renewed faith.

After years of receiving only starvation rations of spoiled rice, Darlene longed for bananas. She pled with God to provide just one banana for her. She constantly dreamed about, thought about, prayed for and wished for one single banana.

In His mercy God laid it on the heart of the commander of her previous woman’s prisoner of war camp to come and visit Darlene. Shocked by her spectre-like appearance the commander left without speaking to her.  He composed himself, then returned and talked to her with kindness. When he asked what message she had for the other women prisoners, Darlene sent the message that she still trusted the Lord.

Soon after the commander left, a guard came to her cell and left her 92 bananas, a gift from the commander, who was unaware of her wish. She was absolutely humbled by God’s exceedingly abundant provision for her, and her faith was strengthened.

In reading this book I was impressed with how frequently a memorized Scripture verse or stanza of a godly hymn came to Darlene’s mind as she suffered discouraging fear and abuse. We are reminded by Darlene’s experiences of God’s presence with believers even when we may not sense it. God’s Word and God’s promised presence comfort and strengthen us in our times of discouragement.

Elizabeth Bowen Thompson – Missionary Example of Helper

Elizabeth Bowen Thompson Missionary Example of Helper is used in conjunction with the lesson on God’s Plan from Creation:  Helper.

Elizabeth Bowen Thompson is an example of a woman who used her gifts and skills to help others.  She began serving others as a single woman, and carried out her sacrificial and ambitious ministry as a married woman and later as a widow.

Young Elizabeth Maria Lloyd was a spirited girl with abundant energy and unusual organizational skills.  Born in the early 1800’s, Elizabeth, spiritually sensitive from her early childhood, was taunted by other children for her piety and was sometimes called the “little saint.”   She came to Christ as a girl and learned early that all matters were to be prayed about. Frances Ridley Havergal wrote, “Lord, prepare me for whatever thou art preparing for me”[1] This prayer quite aptly described Elizabeth Bowen Thompson’s early life.

From her childhood Elizabeth had a keen interest in ancient things, particularly in Biblical archaeology. As a young woman she intently studied the latest Eastern archaeological discoveries and soon became an authority on Egyptian and Eastern antiquities.  Miss Lloyd was offered a position working for the Syro-Egyptian Mission in Damascus where she met Dr. James Bowen Thompson, head of the British Syrian Hospital in that city. The friendship between James and Elizabeth soon blossomed into love.  The couple was married and settled near Antioch.

Elizabeth was moved by the plight of the Syrian women in Antioch and longed to help them.  She learned the language, hired other Christians to assist her, and opened a small school in her home, which she ran for eighteen months until the outbreak of the Crimean War.

When the war erupted in 1853, Dr. Bowen Thompson, an expert in Eastern diseases, quickly volunteered to go serve his country as a military doctor. Eager to be of assistance, he left for the front before his commission was issued.  Upon arriving, Dr. Bowen Thompson was stricken down with the same fever he had come to treat.  Because he was not yet a military doctor, he was refused admission to the military hospital.  At the urging of a fellow physician the hospital finally admitted him, but it was too late and Dr. Bowen Thompson died.

Grief-stricken, the young widow returned to England and lived with her sister and brother-in-law.  News reached England of the massacres in Syria in 1860 where the slaughter of thousands of males was carried out by the Turks, Druses and Kurds. These factions were brutal and merciless in their destruction, resorting to trickery to gather together and butcher all men and boys from the ages of 7 -70. Over 20,000 widows and many more children were left homeless. Widows and orphans fled to seaport towns of Syria. Elizabeth felt specially qualified in her widowhood to aid these widows, and with her years lived in Syria, she knew the language and customs of the land.  Elizabeth gave of her own means to help widows and orphans, and soon travelled to Beirut to do what she could personally.

“When tidings of these fearful events reached Europe, England sent money, food, and clothing.  Many of my friends, and the members of my family, took an active part in helping in this good work:  and, as it had pleased God that during the Crimean War I should be one of the many to become widows, it was but natural that my heart should respond to the widows’ cries.  Then, too, the happy portion of my wedded life, which I had spent in Syria, had enabled me to acquire some knowledge of the language as well as of the ignorance and desolate condition of the women.  Therefore, as a widow caring for the widow, I felt called upon to try to give help in distress, and make known to them the only balm for a broken heart – the love of the Lord Jesus.”[2]

Elizabeth Bowen Thompson discovered a great lack of Christian teaching, of ability to read, and of training in housekeeping among the widows. Suddenly widowed, these Syrian women had little education and few skills to make their own living. Elizabeth quickly formed industrial schools, instructing the women in areas such as sewing and embroidery while teaching them to read by using the Bible.  Students young and old were given the gospel. Every day the women would have Bible lessons and learn hymns, followed by school and skills classes.  As these downtrodden women heard the gospel they responded with amazement.

“No idea of ‘the Truth as it is in Christ Jesus,’ their (the widow’s) souls were filled with revenge…When, however, their Christian teachers unfolded to them the Good News of our Saviour, they would sit at their feet in rapt attention and exclaim, ‘We never heard such words.  We are women.  Does it mean for us?’ A few of them blessed God for the Word he had sent to them by us.”[3]

Strangers who heard of the new schools came from all of Syria and begged Mrs. Bowen Thompson to open schools for them. Within a few months Elizabeth established schools for the widows, schools for the orphans, and evening schools for the young men. She received help and supplies from the Syrian Relief Fund and the Anglo-American Committee.  Above all she made sure that the gospel was preached to every person associated with her schools.

“The Bible was in their hands, and the songs of Zion rose up to heaven instead of their former imprecations and idle talk.  Groups of women being taught by their children now met the eye; and in their miserable abodes the Bible was read, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit sought in prayer.”[4]

As the number of schools increased, so did the need for good workers.  When their home in England burned down, Elizabeth’s sister and brother in law, Mr. and Mrs. Mentor Mott, came to help in the work. Miss Lloyd, a younger sister, also answered the call for workers in this burgeoning ministry.

“When I began, amidst great discouragement, I had not the slightest idea how large and how rapidly the work would grow; and when I look at the schools as they stand, I own I marvel at what the Lord has wrought in little more than two months and a half.”[5]

Word of the schools continued to spread and soon the upper-class Syrians asked Mrs. Bowen Thompson to teach their children for a fee. More homes were opened for orphans and widows with the tuition from these paying students.  Parents, friends, brothers of the widows and of paying and non-paying students alike were invited to Sunday evening classes where a Christian man read verses, explained the passage, answered questions, and closed in prayer.

How to provide for all of the needs of these newly begun schools was ever on Elizabeth Bowen Thompson’s heart. By 1862 resources were stretched thin.  Elizabeth went to the Lord with her burden.

“I had no money in hand for my poor widows.  They were without food…I went up into my room and there, alone with God, I besought Him for help.  While yet in prayer my request was granted; for the Prussian Consul was downstairs with the news he had opened a soup-kitchen, and would give a meal every day to fifty of my poor women.  The Lord doth surely provide!”[6]

In answer to Elizabeth’s prayers, British sailors docked at Beirut heard of the schools and sent their laundry to be done, thus providing regular income for the widows.

By 1863 there were 18 various schools, and by 1864 over four hundred students were enrolled in the schools. Bible education as well as secular training was mandatory. This godly training helped dispel superstitious practices that many of the people had such as buying one or two square feet of heaven to ensure a place for themselves or loved ones. “To such a people, the entrance of God’s Word is as ‘the dayspring from on high.’”[7]

Some of the newly saved widows began nightly prayer meetings in their homes and were turned out by their landlords for it.  Elizabeth found them new places to live and gave them rooms at the school for their prayer meetings.

As news of the well run schools spread, Elizabeth was asked to establish her schools in an ever widening area. Schools were established at Damascus and Elizabeth was responsible to train teachers for Bishop Gobat’s school in Jerusalem, Miss Whately’s school in Cairo, plus schools in six other locations.

After several years a variety of schools were in operation:  boys’ schools, girls’ schools, infant schools, orphanages, Sunday schools, Moslem boarding schools, blind schools, a school for cripples plus a Normal Training College for teachers were all started and supplied by the influence of Elizabeth Bowen Thompson.  Much of the training of the teachers for these schools was funded by Mrs. Bowen Thompson or her family.

By 1899 Elizabeth had laboured diligently for eight years in Syria, establishing schools and training many in the Word.  Elizabeth’s health was never robust and the strain of the hard work weakened her.  Elizabeth knew the Lord was with her in her illness and she wrote, “Notwithstanding my great weakness I have never one instant lost my peace of mind or sense of the presence of Jesus, my Lord.”[8]

Hoping to improve her health, Elizabeth Bowen Thompson returned to England.  Her health deteriorated and as she lay dying she regretted she could never again see her “dear children far away”[9]

Her last days were a shining testimony of one who walked with God.  Shortly before she crossed the vale she prayed, “And now, dear Lord Jesus, let none of those who know me, and none of those who love me, ever think of me as passing through the grave and gate of death.  I am passing through the gate of glory.”[10]  Elizabeth Bowen Thompson died glorious in the Lord on November. 14,1869. This widow gave al that she had and was to bring the Gospel to the downtrodden of Syria.

With wisdom, grace, and love divinely blest,

She raised the fallen, shielded the oppressed.

The blind she led to touch the Word and see;

And healed the strife of creeds by charity.

Damascus mourns her – Hermon’s daughters weep –

Their ‘mother in the Lord’ has fall’n asleep.

Her native land has claimed her mortal part;

Jesus her soul; but Syria hath her heart.[11]

Author unknown


[1] Mrs. J. T. Gracey, Eminent Missionary Women (New York:  Eaton & Mains, 1898) p. 101.

[2] Charles F. Hayward, Women Missionaries (London:  Collins Clear-type Press, n.d.) p. 149

[3] Ibid., 150.

[4]  “Elizabeth Bowen Thompson,” Heroines of the Cross:  True Stories of Noble Women (Kilmarnock, Scotland:  John Ritchie Publishers n.d.) p. 20

[5] Ibid., pp. 21-22

[6] Hayward, p. 157

[7] Canon Dawson, Heroines of Missionary Adventure (Philadelphia:  J. P. Lippincott, 1909) p. 167

[8] Hayward, p. 167.

[9] “Elizabeth Bowen Thompson,” Heroines of the Cross:  True Stories of Noble Women, p.25.

[10] Hayward, p. 168.

[11] Mrs. E. R. Pitman, Missionary Heroines in Eastern Lands (London:  Pickering & Inglis, n.d.) p. 87.

Mary Reed – Missionary Example of Glorifying God through Hardships

Mary Reed a Missionary Example for the lesson on Hardships:  A Biblical Response to Difficulties in Life

Mary Reed, a hard-working and accomplished school teacher, responded to the call of God for missionary service and departed for India in 1884 at the age of 30.  Mary had enjoyed excellent health all her life, but that changed almost as soon as she reached India, and she was shuttled off to a quiet location to rest and recover.  Near her resting spot at a place called Chandag was the Mission to Lepers.

Mary had great pity for these lepers as she learned of their plight. Leprosy was a terrible degenerative disease which left its victims deformed and disfigured as their flesh atrophied and fell away.  Known today as Hansen’s Disease, the disease is now treatable, but at that time no cure was known.  No clear understanding of the spread of this disease was understood and lepers were almost always banished from society in isolation with other lepers for life.

Mary finished her first missionary term then left for furlough in the States 1890.  While at home she had a recurrence of her health problems.  While being treated for these she noticed a loss of feeling and a tingling in her hands. The final diagnosis: leprosy.

“Determined to spare her dear ones as far as possible, the heroic sufferer confided the nature of her illness to one sister only, and asked her mother and other members of the family to permit her to go forth without any special farewell, just as if she were coming home again the same evening. ‘We didn’t understand at that time her motive for not kissing any of us good-bye,’ said her mother, ‘and when the train pulled out of the station Mary was smiling and waved farewell, while the rest of us were in tears.’”

When a friend wept at the news of Mary’s incurable degenerative illness Mary replied: “I have not yet received my assurance of healing; perhaps I can serve my Father better thus.  I shall have the joy of ministering to a class of people who, but for the preparation which has been mine for this special work, I would have been no helper at all; and while I am called apart among these needy creatures who hunger and thirst for salvation, for comfort and for cheer, He Who has called and prepared me, promises that He Himself will be to me as a little sanctuary where I am to abide, and abiding in Him, I shall have a supply of all my need.  He has enabled me to say not with a sigh, but with a song, ‘Thy will be done.’”

Mary worked with the lepers until her death in 1943.  The Lord allowed her 58 years of missionary service, 52 of them among the lepers.  She accepted the hardship of an incurable illness and chose to faithfully minister to other lepers with the good news of God’s love and salvation.  Mary Reed serves as an example to all believers of glorifying God in the midst of her hardships.

Bibliography

Heroines of Missionary Adventure by Canon Dawson

Eminent Missionary Women by Mrs. J. T. Gracey

Mary Reed:  Missionary to the Lepers by John Jackson

Mary Reed of Chandag by E. Mackerchar

The Picket-Line of Missions by W. F. McDowell, et al

A Passion for the Impossible – Biography of Lilias Trotter

Miriam Huffman Rockness has written A Passion for the Impossible, an excellent, well-researched biography of Isabella Lilias Trotter, missionary to Algeria.  The book is full of quotations from the rich diaries of Lilias along with memories from earlier biographies by co-workers and contemporaries.  Her story is amazing and inspiring, an enlightening and encouraging book for today’s reader.

Refined and artistic, Lilias Trotter lived during heart of England’s Victorian era. This privileged young lady spent part of each year “on the continent” exploring, resting, drawing, and visiting. Selected to study under famed art critic John Ruskin, she was a gifted and insightful artist.  Lilias Trotter would not be someone we would automatically consider as an ideal missionary candidate, yet the Lord chose to use this dedicated lady as the means of getting the gospel to many Bedouin Muslims in Algeria during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Lilias grew up in a Christian home and was religiously devout as a child and a young person.  She came to a saving belief in Christ as her saviour from sin sometime after her father’s unexpected death.  Lilias and her mother attended many Keswick Christian conferences and meetings. It was after a series of these meetings that Lilias felt a specific call from God to give her life to missionary work.  But her willingness to follow that call was not without conflict.

Lilias’ talent as an artist was so remarkable that she was hailed as one of the upcoming great artists of her generation.  Lilias understood that she could not be a great artist and a dedicated missionary at the same time.  After a short time of struggle, Lilias Trotter surrendered to God’s call on her life.  Delicate health and her obvious artistic gift caused many of her friends to object to Lilias’ call to take the gospel to the Muslims of Algeria, but Lilias had no doubts concerning God’s will in this matter.

Lilias’ life was marked by patient continuance.  Beginning her ministry at age thirty five, Lilias learned Arabic, studied the culture and habits of her new countrymen, and eagerly sought ways of taking the gospel to those who had never heard of Jesus.  Because of a serious heart condition, Lilias was required to rest several months of the year.  She used these times to write and illustrate devotional books and tracts specifically designed to reach the beauty-loving Arabs.

Burdened for Bedouins in the desert regions, Lilias made treks to places no Western woman had ever visited before.  First by rail, then horse-drawn carriage and finally hired camels, Lilias and her co-worker penetrated the dry, hot desert, trekking by day and camping under the stars by night to reach Christless communities.  Lilias would paint literal and verbal pictures for the desert dwellers, hoping to get them to begin to understand the love of a God they did not know.  Few responded, but many listened eagerly to this earnest, artistic woman and readily accepted the booklets she left with them.

Lilias was deeply burdened for men to come and serve in the fledgling mission. The first few men who answered the call were turned back by illness, death, or governmental restrictions.  Distrust of these westerners and their new ways increased as political unrest grew in Northern Africa. It wasn’t until years later that Lilias’ mission had men as well as women serving in Algeria.

God allowed many disappointments and discouragements throughout the years, but Lilias kept her heart fixed on the Lord.  She embraced the seemingly impossible task of reaching Muslims for Christ and took as her verse of promise, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27) Though the outward results of her ministry were not abundant, Lilias walked with the God of the impossible and trusted in Him throughout her life.

Rockness, Miriam Huffman.  A Passion for the Impossible. Grand Rapids:  Discovery House, 2011.   346 pp

It Is Not Death to Die: A New Biography of Hudson Taylor

Many biographies have been written about Hudson Taylor, including the excellent two-volume bio written by Taylor’s son and daughter-in-law and first published about 100 years ago.  Hudson’s great-nephew, A. J. Broomhall, later wrote a comprehensive 7 volume work on Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission. Others have written about Hudson Taylor and his first wife, Maria, about the CIM, and about the CIM martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion.  There have literally been thousands of pages written about the remarkable life and ministry of James Hudson Taylor.

It Is Not Death to Die:  A New Biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty is a very good updated biography of Hudson Taylor, missionary to China from the mid 1800’s  to the early 1900’s, and founder of the China Inland Mission.  At 481 pages of text plus end notes, bibliography, and indices, the book is not a quick read.  Cromarty does do a very good job of synthesizing his research and information from previous published works into an easy to understand chronology of Taylor’s life.

As a young man Taylor studied to be a doctor in preparation for his ministry in China.  He lived an exceptionally frugal life to prepare himself for the privations he expected to face in China.  Taylor was convinced that he must learn to trust God while still in his homeland or he would struggle to trust the Lord once he got to China.  A man who walked with God, Hudson Taylor prayed about everything, and trusted that God would literally supply his daily needs.  He decided never to ask any man for financial support, but to cast himself solely upon God to meet all his needs. You will be blessed and amazed at God’s very specific provision for his servant when you read this book.

A British citizen, Taylor grew up in a time when British ways were held dear, even when her citizens lived abroad.  British subjects worldwide dressed, ate, and conducted themselves as much as possible as if they were still in the homeland. After arriving in China, Hudson Taylor quickly saw that the gospel of Christ would not easily move forward since the Chinese feared and avoided foreigners due to their strange appearance and conduct.  He made the controversial decision to live and dress just like the people he was ministering to.  Initially he was mocked, shunned and ridiculed for this choice – not by the Chinese, but by his own countrymen.  Almost immediately after he started dressing and quietly living like the Chinese people he found greater acceptance and increased freedom to preach the gospel.

There are several things I like about this book.  First, Cromarty quotes extensively from the original writings of Hudson Taylor, his family members, and those associated with the China Inland Mission.  To read in his own words the joys, struggles, and challenges of daily living in an unfamiliar culture helps the reader feel a sympathetic connection with this humble missionary.

Second, I like biographies that portray the whole person, weaknesses as well as strengths.  Though written from a sympathetic viewpoint, the book still shows us the frustrations, disappointments, character flaws, and troubles that were part of Hudson Taylor’s life.  Bottom line:  He was an imperfect man who loved God wholeheartedly and whom God chose to use.  This gives every one of us hope!

Third, I like the way Cromarty arranged the chapters so that the reader better understands how intricately the CIM and Hudson Taylor were woven together.  Taylor understood the necessity of face to face encouragement of missionaries on the field and frequently spent his own time, resources, and energy traveling to help, encourage, and mediate for CIM missionaries. He also traveled extensively around the world to represent the mission and ask people to pray for more missionaries for China.  In a sense Hudson Taylor was the CIM (or at least the face of it!) and the CIM was Hudson Taylor.

Fourth, I appreciated the child-like dependence on God that Hudson Taylor displayed. The CIM was a faith mission and Hudson Taylor never once asked for donations or took up an offering at a public gathering.  He asked God directly to provide and trusted that God Himself would move individuals and groups to supply the needs of the missionaries.  Hudson Taylor drew deeply from a close fellowship with the Lord.  By the end of his life Taylor had read through his Bible over 40 times.  He was always quick to pray about matters that concerned him and was equally as quick to offer praise for answers to prayer.

Finally, I was deeply moved by the sacrifices and challenges the missionaries and Chinese believers faced in order to preach the gospel to China’s millions.  Loneliness, deprivations, illness, persecution, abuses, lack of privacy, unsanitary conditions, interpersonal struggles, death, and even martyrdom faced many.  Yet they set aside personal comforts and preferences for the cause of Christ.  Hudson Taylor’s burning desire, and the desire of those who volunteered for missionary service in China, was to reach every inland province and every Chinese person with the good news that Christ died and rose again to save us from our sins.  For some that meant death, but these devoted missionaries believed as Henri Cesar Malan’s poem states, “It is not death to die.” (See hymn text at the end of this blog.)

James Hudson Taylor lived in close communion with the Lord he loved and served faithfully for over 40 years.  Most of his adult life was spent establishing, working in, and overseeing the China Inland Mission.  Reading this book will inspire and challenge believers in their walk with God.

Cromarty, Jim.  It Is Not Death to Die:  A New Biography of Hudson Taylor. Fearn, UK:  Christian Focus Publications, 2008.

It Is Not Death to Die
by H. A. Cesar Malan, 1787-1864
translated by George W. Bethune, 1805-1862

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road,
And midst the brotherhood on high
To be at home with God.

It is not death to close
The eye long dimmed by tears
And wake in glorious repose
To spend eternal years.

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust
And rise, on strong, exulting wing,
To live among the just.

Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die;
Like Thee, they conquer in the strife
To reign with Thee on high.

Isobel Kuhn and Rosalind Goforth

Isobel Kuhn

God has permitted the writings of two well know Canadian women missionaries to remain in print for our benefit today.  Not only were these women deeply involved in Christian ministry, they were both gifted in their ability to record the lessons God taught them along the way. 

 

Rosalind Goforth, born in England, raised in Montreal, and saved as a child, was attracted to her future husband, Jonathan, because of his spiritual mindedness. God granted them almost fifty years of missionary service together in China. In Mrs. Goforth’s easy to read conversational style we discover the joys as well as the trials of missionary service.  Rosalind Goforth is poignantly forthright in admitting her own struggles and spiritual rebellion and the consequences of her attitudes. 

 

Isobel Kuhn grew up in Vancouver and was saved through God’s clear and dramatic working in her life as a young adult.   Isobel Miller and John Kuhn both left for China after attending Bible college. After their marriage they began their life work of ministry in Asia.  Separation, serious illness, war, disappointment, privation and death were an almost continual part of their lives.  Through these difficulties Isobel Kuhn saw the Lord’s guiding hand of love and blessing.  Her books reflect a heart that works through trials and sees a loving Father ordering all things.  Though her life was cut short by cancer, Isobel’s legacy of writing remained to encourage us.

 

Available from online booksellers:

By Rosalind Goforth:

            Goforth of China      

            Climbing

            How I Know God Answers Prayer

Out of print, but occasionally found at used bookstores:

            Chinese Diamonds for the King of Kings

            Miracle Lives of China        

By Isobel Kuhn:

            Ascent to the Tribes

            By Searching   (Her personal testimony)

            Children of the Hills

            Green Leaf in Drought

            In the Arena

            Nests above the Abyss

            Stones of Fire

Rosalind Goforth