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Sermon Central Staff
PAUL BRAND'S MISSIONARY MOTHER
Dr. Paul Brand, a well known doctor and author, was raised in India. His parents were missionaries there. In his book, titled "In His Image," he writes about his mother. It is one of the most touching stories Iíve ever read.
He writes that when his mother was 75 years old, she was still walking miles every day, visiting the villages in the southern part of India, teaching the people about Jesus.
One day, at age 75, she was traveling alone and fell and broke her hip. After two days of just lying there in pain, some workers found her and put her on a makeshift cot and loaded her into their jeep and drove 150 miles over deep rutted roads to find a doctor who could set the broken bones. But the very bumpy ride damaged her bones so badly that her hip never completely healed.
He said, "I visited my mother in her mud covered hut several weeks after all of this happened. I watched as she took two bamboo crutches that she had made herself, and moved from one place to another with her feet just dragging behind because she had lost all feeling in them."
He said, "At age 75, with a broken hip, unable to stand on her own two legs, I thought that I made a pretty intelligent suggestion. I suggested that she retire. She turned around and looked at me and said, "Of what value is that? If we try to preserve this body just a few more years and it is not being used for God, of what value is that?"
So she kept on working. She kept on riding her donkey to villages until she was 93 years old. At age 93 she couldnít stay on her donkey anymore. She kept falling off. But she didnít stop teaching. Indian men would carry her in hammocks from one village to another. And she continued to tell people about Jesus until she died at age 95.
Paul writes, "My most vivid memory of my mother is of her propped up against a stone wall as people are coming to her from their homes, schools, and places of work. I can still see the wrinkles in her face, and her skin so tanned by the weather and the heat.
"I saw her speaking to those people. I looked at them and saw the sparkle in their eyes, and the smiles on their faces. And I saw them deeply moved by the message of Godís love, spoken by this old woman. I knew what they saw was not an old woman who had passed her prime, but a beautiful person bringing tidings of love straight from heaven."
"Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people.Ē
(From a sermon by Melvin Newland, Dealing with Adversity, 11/24/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
GOD VS. VOODOO
Pastor Mike Breaux tells the story below when his daughter Jodie answered God's call to go into missions work:
During her junior year of high school, Jodie struggled to find a faith of her own. She wanted to know in her heart that all of what she'd been taught to believe was true and that Jesus Christ was real. Honestly, she was headed down a dark road. But God pursued her down that road. She eventually found a faith of her own, and when she graduated from high school, she said, "I don't think God wants me to go to college right now. I want to take a year to go to Haiti, and I want to serve people in a medical mission down there."
I said, "Are you sure you want to do this? Jodie, it's 3,000 miles away from home. It's AIDS-infested and the poorest country in the western hemisphere. And do you know it's controlled by the voodoo religion?"
"I know all that," she said. "But I feel like God wants me to go and help those people."
I said, "Okay. If that's what you want to do, we'll make it happen."
One of the hardest days of my life was putting my little girl on an airplane and watching it lift off, not knowing whether I'd ever communicate with her again.
One night I got an e-mail from Jodie. She wrote: "Dad, tonight has been the most remarkable night of my life. I got called out to this hut to deliver a baby. Dad, I've only delivered one, and that was with somebody. I'd never done this by myself, but I was the only one around. They called me, and I get to this hut, and there's this naked, screaming lady on the dirt floor. I got a flashlight, and I'm thinking, Here I am, 18 years old, and I'm in a hut in a third-world country with a naked, screaming, pregnant lady. I have a flashlight, and I don't know what I'm doing--but I'm here.
"To make matters worse, this lady from the voodoo religion walked into the hut, dressed in her red and blue voodoo garb, and began to chant some voodoo incantation in Creole. She put some kind of oil on the lady's head, and when she started to walk away from me and the woman, she stopped at the woman's belly, put some other kind of salve there, and walked the opposite direction--all while chanting this Creole spell. I didn't know what to do. She stood at the head of this woman and stared a hole through me. When I was getting ready to deliver this baby, I just looked back at her, and I started singing. I knew she didn't understand English, but I just started singing: 'Our God is an awesome God, he reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God.'"
Jodie said that the voodoo lady became completely unglued. She grabbed all of her stuff and ran out of the hut. Jodie wrote, "That night I knew that that baby was going to be born with the blessing of God and not the curse of Satan."
As I read Jodie's e-mail, my fatherly side thought, You get on a plane tomorrow! What are you doing in a hut with a voodoo woman in the first place? But then my heart beat so fast for her as her brother in Christ. I thought, Way to go, Jodie! Way to make a difference with your life! Way to stop floating around accidental-like! Way to put your life in the hands of the destiny-maker! Way to make a splash! Who knows who that little baby she delivered that night is going to grow up to touch and who that person is going to touch--all because of one courageous girl who said, "Okay, God, I want to put my life in your hands; I want to make a difference."
In Mark 8:35 Jesus said if you insist on saving your life--if you insist on the comfort of playing it safe--you're going to lose your opportunity for life! Only those who give away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it really means to really, really live.
(From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, The Way to Life, 5/16/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
THEY'RE NOT READY FOR HEAVEN
The movie The End of the Spear tells the true story of five missionaries who gave their lives to reach the violent Waodoni tribe in the jungles of Ecuador in the 1950s. Led by Nate Saint, the missionaries were eager to reach the Waodoni people before they all died off from their intertribal warfare and vicious revenge killings.
As Nate prepares for his adventure, his family gathers around him on the dirt airstrip in front of their house. As he kisses his wife goodbye, his son, Steve, looks at the gear in the plane and notices a rifle. Obviously worried, he turns to his father and asks, ďIf the Waodoni attack, will you use your guns? Will you defend yourselves?Ē
Nate looks his boy dead in the eye and responds, ďSon, we canít shoot the Waodoni. Theyíre not ready for heaven. We are.Ē (End of the Spear, 00:32:30ó00:33:48, Every Tribe Entertainment, 2006, directed by Jim Hanon, written by Bill Ewing and Bart Gavigan)
Nate Saint understood the fate of the unbeliever as compared to his own fate. He knew he could withstand some temporary pain, but he didnít want the Waodoni people to experience the eternal pain of hell, at least not before they had a chance to hear the gospel.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, In the Fire! 7/30/2011)
BLOOD FLOWS IN THE BOMOKANDE
In November 1964, anarchy broke out in the Belgian Congo. Assemblies of God missionary J. W. Tucker knew he was at risk, but he stayed where God had placed him. One day, a mob attacked and killed him with sticks, clubs, fists, and broken bottles. They took his body, threw it in the back of a truck, drove a good distance, and then tossed his corpse to the crocodiles in the Bomokande River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
J. W. Tucker had risked everything, yet he seemingly had nothing to show for it. But 30 years later, John Weidman, a close friend of Tuckerís, was in the country (by then known as Zaire) and learned how God used that missionaryís sacrifice.
The Bomokande River flows through the middle of the Mangbeto tribe, a people virtually without the gospel. During a time of civil war, the Mangbeto king became distressed with the violence and appealed to the central government in Kinshasa for help. The central government responded by sending a man called the Brigadier, a well-known policeman of strong stature and reputation who came from the region of Isiro. J. W. Tucker had won the Brigadier to the Lord just two months before he was killed.
The Brigadier determined to reach the Mangbetos with the gospel, the only way to peace. Being a relatively new Christian, he did his best to witness, but he was met with no response. Then one day he heard of a Mangbeto tradition that said: "If the blood of any man flows in the Bomokande River, you must listen to his message." This saying had been with the Mangbetos for as long as anyone could remember.
The Brigadier called for the king and all the village elders. They gathered in full assembly to hear his address. "Some time ago a man was killed, and his body was thrown into your Bomokande River," the Brigadier began. "The crocodiles in this river ate him up. His blood flowed in your river. But before he died, he left me a message.
"This message concerns Godís Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save people who were sinners. He died for the sins of the world; He died for my sins. I rece...
Sermon Central Staff
THE MISSION OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE
The modern missionary movement really got started about 150 years ago with people who were concerned about the continent of Africa. There was a Scottish preacher by the name of Robert Moffatt who was serving in South Africa. He returned to Scotland to try to enlist more missionaries. On a cold, rainy night, he went into a little church in Scotland. To his dismay, the only people in the service that night were women. Back in those days, women didn't go alone to the mission field. He started to cancel his message, because there were no prospective missionaries there, but instead he preached to them about the need for the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers. He made this statement, "Every morning when I get up and look at the horizon, I see the smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard."
Robert Moffatt didn't know there was a teenager in that service. He was hidden up in the organ loft where his job was to pump the bellows for the pipe organ. This teenage boy, standing up in the organ chamber, heard every word he said, and he was haunted by that phrase, "The smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard." So this young man decided he would become a missionary. His name, by the way, was David Livingstone.
He became a medical doctor and went to Africa. He was not content to stay in South Africa, where there were few native Africans; instead he explored the inner continent. He was a great missionary and a great explorer. He was the first white man to traverse the continent of Africa from east to west. He discovered Victoria Falls. He traveled over 29,000 miles and mapped one million square miles of previously uncharted territory.
When David Livingstone first began his ministry there, some of the native tribes opposed him. One particular warlike tribe said they were going to kill him and everyone in his party. One afternoon as they were setting up camp, word was out that these warriors had been tracking him all day, and they were outside the camp and they were going to attack and kill everyone when it got dark. I have the words David Livingstone wrote in his journal that night on January 14, 1856.
"It is evening. I feel much turmoil and fear in the prospect of having all of my plans knocked on the head by savages who are just now outside the camp." Those who studied his handwriting said you could even see the fear in the way he wrote the letters. He wrote, "But Jesus said, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and earth, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.'" Livingstone wrote, "This is the word of a gentleman of most strict and sacred honor, so that's the end of my fear. I feel quiet and calm now." Even his letters are straight now.
They didn't attack that night. Later the tribe was brought to faith in Christ. A couple of years later, David Livingstone asked the chief of the tribe, "Do you remember the night you were tracking my party?"
"We had heard rumors you were going to attack us."
The chief said, "That's right, we were ready to attack the camp that night and kill you and everyone else."
David Livingstone asked, "Why didn't you attack?"
The chief said, "When we got close to the camp, we looked and saw 47 warriors surrounding your camp with swords in their hands."
David Livingstone was baffled. They didn't have any guards, any warriors.
Later when he was on furlough in Scotland, he shared this story at a church that was supporting him. A man came up to him afterwards with his prayer journal. He said, "Look, I wrote it down, January 14, 1856, was that the night?" David Livingstone said, "Yes." The man said, "That night a group of men came to pray for you. We prayed for your protection. I wrote it down. There were 47 men praying that night for you."
David Livingstone got so immersed into the Dark Continent most people thought he was dead because they had not heard from him for years. The New York Times hired Henry Stanley, an explorer, to search out Africa and find him. Finally Henry Stanley ventured in on this one camp, and there was the only white man for miles and miles around. In that classic statement, he walked up to David Livingstone and said, "Mr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Henry Stanley was a journalist, not a Christian, but he developed a friendship with Livingstone and was led to Christ. I love what Stanley said about Livingstone. "He converted me to Christ, and he wasn't even trying to do so." What a mark of a Christian man.
Stanley tried to get Livingstone to return back to civilization to receive medical treatment, but he refused. He wrote, "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had only one son, and he was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation of him I am, or wish to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die."
Some of you, have been to London, England and perhaps have toured Westminster Cathedral. There in the floor David Livingstone, this great missionary explorer, is buried. What few people know is that that's just his body. His heart is not buried there, because not long after Stanley left, when Livingstone was 60 years old, the people in his camp heard a noise in his tent and went in at 3 a.m. There was Livingstone on his knees in prayer, dead. According to his wishes and his written instructions, his heart was removed from his body, and his heart was buried in Africa. Because, he said, "My heart has always been here, and this is where I want my heart to stay." They shipped his body back, and it is buried in Westminster Cathedral, but his heart will always be buried in Africa.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Putting Your Heart Where Your Money Is, 8/4/2011)
For a while people have believed that our problems exist because we are too civilized. If we would just get back to nature and throw away all of the modern conveniences and the ideas found in the Christian religion, then we would be like the noble savages of old.
A good example of this is the Native Americans, the Indians. If we were to go back in time and observe the life of the Indians before the appearance of the Europeans, before the influence of Christianity, I don't think we would find them to be noble savages. In regard to the Aztecs, we would find a warlike people who sacrificed their fellow savages to their gods. This doesn't sound very noble to me.
Charles Dickens said of this idea: "My position is, that if we have anything to learn from the Noble Savage, it is what to avoid. His virtues are a fable; his happiness is a delusion; his nobility, nonsense. We have no justification for being cruel to him; but he passes away before an immeasurably better and higher power [i.e., that of Christianity] than ever ran wild in any earthly woods, and the world will be all the better when this place knows him no more."
LET THE RIVER FLOW
Marylandís Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam on the Susquehanna River is a great architectural feat. We can drive across the Dam and see the high water on one side and the lower level rapids and flow of water on the other. This dam was not built to contain a raging river and dam up the flowing river, it cannot fully stop the flow of water. Instead, it was built to harness the might of the river and produce electricity. Electricity is used by thousands of people around that river for power and light.
We can learn from this. We have a RIVER OF LIFE that comes down from heaven. We canít stop that river, instead, we are to harness it, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and be the light to our community. Let the RIVER FLOW.
THE LAST LETTER OF KAREN WATSON
Our International Mission Board is working on a project called "The Last Letter." Itís actually an old tradition of soldiers and missionaries who as they boarded a ship, wrote their family and friends a letter that they think might be their final communication.
Karen Watson was one of our missionaries who wrote a letter like that. She was one of four IMB workers who were killed on March 15th of 2004. The vehicle they were riding in was ambushed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Karen was 38, and had been a Christian for about 8 years. She loved the Word of God and the work of God with a great passion.
Here is Karen Watsonís Last Letter:
You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death. When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasnít called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward...
The missionary heart:
Cares more than some think is wise
Risks more than some think is safe
Dreams more than some think is practical
Expects more than some think is possible
I was called not to comfort or to success but to obedience...
THANK YOU, SENSEI DON
Dr. Don Sisk, the former president of the mission board I'm with, BIMI, tells of winning an old "papa-sahn" to Christ, the father of one of the ladies in his church. He had such a grateful spirit for Dr. Sisk, whom they referred to as "Sensei Don" which means "Teacher Don." He lived way up on a mountain and couldn't come as often as he wished to church, but when he did, he would position himself at the front door of the church, and when Dr. Sisk arrived, he'd bow in respect for Dr. Sisk....By the way, in Japan the person who stops bowing first is the least polite, so bowing sessions can go on for awhile.... After several bows, he'd look at Dr. Sisk with tear-stained cheeks, a public emotional display unusual in Japan, and he'd say, "Sensei Don, thank you for leaving your land and coming to Japan to share the Gospel with me so I could be saved." Now that'll keep a missionary going for quite awhile!
Later Dr. Sisk became the Far East Director of BIMI and several years later had the opportunity to revisit the old church he'd started and pastored. When he arrived, sure enough...there at the door was the old papa-sahn, who when he saw Dr. Sisk, bowed several times, tears rolling down his cheeks, and said, "Sensei Don, welcome back to Japan. Thank you again for leaving your home to come and share the Gospel with me so I could know Jesus." My what a great welcome!
Dr. Sisk returned home, and several months later received a letter notifying him that the old papa-sahn had gone home to be with the Lord. Tears instantly came to his eyes, but just as quickly disappeared as a happy thought came to his mind. He thought that one day he too would go home to glory, and when he did, a short Japanese papa-sahn would be at the gates of glory and when Dr. Sisk entered those gates, the papa-sahn would bow, and Dr. Sisk said they would bow for about a thousand years! Then the old papa-sahn will say, this time with a gleam in his eye, for there will be no tears in heaven, "Sensei Don, thank you for leaving your land to go to Japan to share with me the Gospel so I could be here in heaven."
But this is where Dr. Sisk drilled home a glorious thought in telling his story: He said he firmly believed that the papa-sahn would go to every person who ever gave a penny to help him get to the field so he could preach the Gospel, and bow several times and thank them for making it possible for Dr. Sisk to get to Japan to preach the Gospel.
O, beloved, do you not see it?--When you have a part in missionary giving, the fruit of the labor of the missionary can abound to your account! What a glorious thought!
WEARING 30,000 BIBLES
Years ago a missionary returned to England for a brief furlough after many years of faithful service in India. He was invited to a dinner at a great summer resort where he met many women of prominence and position.
After dinner he went to his room and penned a letter to his wife. He wrote, "My Dearest Sweetheart: I've had dinner at the hotel. The company was wonderful. I saw strange things today. Many women were present. There were some who, to my certain knowledge, wore one church, forty cottage organs, twenty libraries and 30,000 Bibles."
You see, in his great longing for the means to provide the Gospel for spiritually hungering millions in India, he could not refrain from estimating the silks, satins, and diamonds of the guests at the dinner in terms of his people's needs on the mission field.