I just got my Indian visa renewed for another year. After 41 years in the country that should have become easier, but – it hasn’t. But neither has my love for this country nor my commitment to it abated.
If you ask me, “Why do you love this country?” as some of my Indian friends do, I am hard-pressed to explain it. It certainly is not a mushy, romantic love; a walk through a slum or some backward villages or seeing how some people live in the big cities will disabuse you of such a kind of love. I think it is a love bent on the good for people. It is sort of like the Bible says of God, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” This certainly is not a mushy, romantic love. Whatever, I believe it is a love the Holy Spirit poured into my heart. I am immensely privileged.
When some people talk about going to work in another country, their commitment is summed up in, “Let’s wait and see what it is like.” The old cliché “Missionaries are not those who cross the sea but those who see the cross,” certainly cannot be applied to them. The cross speaks of supreme sacrifice and sacrifice is certainly not in vogue with the “Let’s wait and see what it is like” types.
It contrasts strangely with the commitment of missionaries of old. Below are but a few of the many that though unknown to the world or the church laid their lives on the line for their Savior and by doing so heard the Savior’s “well done thou good and faithful servant.”
William Carey died 9 June, 1834 (aged 72) in Serampore, India
Hudson Taylor died 3 June, 1905 (aged 73) Changsha, Hunan, China
Adoniram Judson died 12 April, 1850 (aged 61) at sea in the Bay of Bengal
Amy Carmichael died 18 January, 1951 (aged 83) Dohnavur, Tam, India
Ida Scudder died, aged 89, at her bungalow at Kodaikanal
Mark Buntain died 1981, in Calcutta, India.
Another beautiful story of commitment is that of Father Damien de Veuster. He began ministering to leprosy patients on the remote Kalaupapa Peninsula of Molokai Island, where some 8,000 people had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850’s. The priest eventually contracted the disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, and died in 1889 at age 49.
“He went there (to Hawaii) knowing that he could never return,” “He suffered a lot, but he stayed.”
Admittedly the visa restrictions in many countries make things difficult and uncertain, but at least we should come with the attitude, “Here I will stay till the Government does us part — and not an unpleasant situation”. The latter you will meet in abundance and so “legitimate” reasons to quit – if you want to quit.
Enshrine in your heart the admonition of St. Paul in Galatians 6:9,
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Place these lines on the wall of whatever dwelling place you will inhabit:
“I wanted to commune with God
I went upon the highest steeple.
God said to me,
‘Go down again, I live among the people.’”
Times will come (and I am an expert on the following) when you want to run away from people, away from hearing the constant pleas for help. But you will only still their voices in your ear, not still their need, not their pain.
Jesus in the high priestly prayer in John 17 prayed, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18.
When we figure out why God sent his Son into the world and under what conditions he lived and ministered and finally died, we can figure out what it means for us to be sent into the world.
If anybody is not prepared to meet these conditions then what a church officer said to D. L. Moody, when he applied for church membership, could very well apply to you:
“Young man (or young woman), you can serve God better by keeping still.”