Sermon Illustrations

Martyrdom of Missionary Doctor Paul Carlson

Don Carson has written a book which is also titled, “How Long O Lord: Reflections on Suffering & Evil.” At the beginning of the book, he recounted this real-life story.

A pastor is cutting his front lawn. He looks up from his task just in time to see a heavy dump truck back out of his neighbor’s driveway - right over the neighbor’s 18-month-old son, who had been squatting behind the huge tires. The pastor accompanies the hysterical parents to the hospital in the ambulance. There is no hope for the little boy; he has been crushed beyond recognition.

The question is asked: “Where is God? Where is God when this happened?” Another real-life story… this time as told by James Dobson in his book, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense.”

In 1961, Dr Paul Carlson went on a medical mission trip to the Congo. He later returned back to his practice in California but found that he couldn’t forget those hopeless people he had encountered in Africa. He said this to a colleague, “If you could only see the need, you wouldn’t be able to swallow your sandwich.” So not long after, he moved his whole family back to Africa where he set up a makeshift clinic, operating at times by flashlight and making house calls on his motorbike.

Two years later, civil war broke out. Dr Carlson was among a group of Americans held captive by a rebel faction who was using them as political pawns. During their captivity, there came an opportunity for them to escape by climbing over a wall. Dr Carlson actually managed to reach the top of this wall and was a split second from freedom when a burst of bullets took him down. With that, Dr Carlson’s humanitarian commitment to the people of Congo came to a tragic end. He left behind a loving wife and 2 children.

And we are left to ask the question, “Why Lord?”

From a sermon by Stanley Tay, How Long O Lord? 5/26/2010

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