Cross Points - Bright as the Promise of God

Bright as the Promise of God

Is the Christian life an easy one?  American Christians have been very spoiled for many years but are starting to experience what has been true through much of history, that the Christian way can be difficult and filled with turmoil as we live with purpose and for a cause that is “good news” and yet rejected by many vehemently since they do not want this commitment and lifestyle.  The tough life of a Christian can be especially true for those called as missionaries in foreign lands.

Take as an example Adoniram and Ann Judson, who were missionaries to Burma in the early 1800’s.  At first there was no mission agency to send them, so they formed one.  Shortly after their marriage they sailed for Calcutta but were turned away by the East India Company not wanting missionaries to stir up the Indians they did business with.  They boarded a tattered ship on its way to Burma.  Ann hired a Portuguese speaking companion since a few spoke that language there, and this companion dropped dead while they sailed.  Then the ship sailed into a typhoon.  Ann was distressed and now became sick, almost dying herself during the trip.  Finally, they found themselves in Rangoon, conditions noisy and squalid.  It was so bad with the heat, the stench, the pests, and they were immediately ostracized, so bad they both hoped for a speedy death, thinking they had failed.

Five years went by.  There was almost no progress as they tried to minister within the culture.  
Supporters back home became concerned.  The mission board will write asking what the prospects are of seeing any positive results.  Adoniram’s faith has been strengthened by all he has lived through and despite almost no progress thus far, he writes them back, saying,
“The prospects are as bright as the promise of God!”  Soon after this he baptizes their first convert.  

In 1824 he will be imprisoned, and Ann will jeopardize her health while trying to save him.  Their young daughter, Maria, becomes sick and dies.  Ann will die shortly after this.  “God, where are you?” Adoniram might have prayed.  But he continues his work.  Is the Christian life an easy life?  Hardly.  But the Christian life holds hope for eternity, with rewards that we do not experience in this life.

The truth is, during Adoniram’s lifetime, there are some successes, but generally not what he would hope, not what he had certainly prayed for.  But seeds were being planted all along this path.  God’s timing is often not our timing, as he sees the big picture and works providentially with our efforts.

100 years after the Judson’s went to Burma, the sacrifices of this family will become the seeds that finally take root, and hundreds of thousands of Christians in both Burma and Thailand will trace their spiritual heritage to the unswerving dedication and efforts of Adoniram and Ann Judson!  

A similar story could be told about many missionaries in China, which seemed unfruitful for many years, but then the seeds took root when the missionaries were expelled during Communism, and the faithful natives started an evangelistic work that resulted in millions coming to Christ.  

Do you get frustrated with a lack of result when lovingly sharing the good news of Jesus with others?  Do what you can as God leads you and know that God can and will bring a harvest.  
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