Summary: If we want to see people come to Christ we need to be able to walk the talk. And that may mean SACRAFICIAL LIVING (no I didn’t saying GIVING!)
I Thessalonians 2 :7-13
Story: In his book, The Life God Blesses, Gordon Macdonald describes his encounter with a black South African, a high-ranking member of the African National Congress.
He was profoundly impressed by the man’s understanding of African history and politics and his insight into the challenges facing his nation, and so he asked, “Where did you get your training?”
He expected to hear the name of some famous university, and was amazed at the reply: “I trained on Robben Island.”
This was the notorious offshore prison where the apartheid regime sent its most troublesome opponents.
“Every few years the government would search out and jail all the young black leaders.
They would sweep them out of sight and eventually dump them on Robben Island.
But for us it was a profitable strategy.
Because that was where we got our education.
From Mandela and the others... You see, all of us who came to Robben Island came straight from school.
We were angry; we were ready to kill the white man, any white man.
“In prison we lost our names; we were only numbers to the guards.
And they kept their guns pointed at us all the time.
Each morning we marched to the rock quarry, and in the evening we marched back.
The days always belonged to the guards.
But the nights were different. The nights belonged to us.
During the evening, we who were young sat with the old men.
And we listened while they told us their histories, their tribal languages, their dreams for the black person in South Africa.
“But most important, Mandela taught us that you can never accomplish anything as long as you hate your enemy.
Hate his politics; hate the evil behind those politics; hate the policies that put you in prison.
But never hate the person.
It takes your strength away.”
“You stopped hating?” Macdonald asked.
“Not right away. It took me almost five years to forgive... five years of learning with the old men.
But when I did forgive, I was a different person.
I knew I had forgiven when I could go to Holy Communion on Friday and invite the guard to lay down his gun, come and receive the sacrament with me.
So that’s the answer to your question. That’s where I got my training.”
And if you think that is a unique story of SACRAFICIAL LIVING in the 20th Century, I heard a similar story about Elizabeth Eliot
You may recall that on our website we have a quote from Jim Eliot
“ He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to keep that which he cannot lose”
Story I don’t know if you know much about his wife Elisabeth Eliot.
As a young woman, she felt the call to work among the Quichua Indians in Ecuador telling them about the Good News of Jesus Christ.
It was there that she met her husband Jim Eliot, they fell in love and were married in 1953 in the city of Quito in Ecuador.
Their daughter, Valerie was born in 1955 and when Valerie was only 10 months old Elizabeth’s husband Jim Eliot was killed on 8th January 1956, by the Waodoni tribe.
Jim Eliot was one of five missionaries while participating in Wycliffe’s Operation Auca - an attempt to evangelise the Waodoni people of Ecuador.
What struck me as extraordinary was what happened AFTER this tragedy
Elisabeth Eliot and Rachel Saint (the sister of the pilot Nate Saint who had been killed with Jim Eliot) had such a heart for these people that the two of them returned, with Elisabeth’s daughter Valerie to the tribe and lived amongst them for a number of years.
And it was through Elisabeth and Rachel that the tribe was brought the Gospel
Now for me – that is “walking the talk” as they say
I doubt I could have done that if someone had killed my wife but then we are so often surprised by the grace God gives us
But that is what Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians 2 when he says:
“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
Being a Christian can be costly.
Elisabeth Eliot once said this:
“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian.
But the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”
People won’t remember what your theology is like.
They won’t remember which translation of the Bible you use.
They may not remember whether or not you’re an Anglican or a Catholic.