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The Price of Global Missions

October 21, 2011

This Sunday concludes Westgate Church’s fall missions conference.  I’ve heard this quote several times, and each time I am struck by how selfish I am and how small my value for God is.

Here is what Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma in the 1800’s, wrote to the father of the woman he loved and wanted to marry as he was preparing to leave for the mission field:

“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 to a heathen land, 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 a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

–Cited in John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 158.

If family (or career, comfort, security, or any variation on the American Dream) is all our hope, the greatest, most precious treasure to us in the world, then Judson’s desire to bring a wife overseas with him was selfish, reckless, and unloving.

But if Jesus is our treasure, the greatest, most precious thing this world affords, and if eternity in hell is a genuine threat to millions upon millions who in their rebellion refuse to give their worship and allegiance to God (cf. Isa. 42:8; Rom. 1:18-32), then Judson not only loved the Lord, he loved people, and was helping others to love the Lord and people even more by inviting them to lay their lives down for the gospel. Such is the call of missions; such is the pattern of Christ.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

HT: Ray Ortlund

NOTE: Click here to read or listen to a biographical sketch of Judson’s life.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. CJ Godfrey permalink
    October 21, 2011 4:25 pm

    Great post…except the thought of receiving a letter from a would-be son-in-law sent me into apoplexy!

  2. RIch and Sue permalink
    October 22, 2011 2:36 am

    We have, in fact, received two of those types of letters (although not written) and wouldn’t trade the blessings they have been to us for all the comfort of being together on this earth more often. The safest and most blessed place to be is in the center of God’s will. God’s belssings on the conference this week! Rich and Sue Forsen

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