Summary: The Apostle Paul demonstrated the essence of a missionary heart and challenges us to have the same.
We are coming to the last words of the Apostle Paul, and we get a glimpse of
the missionary heart of this great Apostle. The problem with many American Christians, and perhaps some of you in this room, is that to you, Christianity is just such a personal thing; you don’t ever want to share it. You have your ticket to heaven, you have your eternal fire insurance, and frankly, you don’t really care whether anybody else goes to heaven or not.
There are hurting people all around us. If you’re content to hang on to the gospel
and not share it with anybody else, you don’t share the missionary heart of the Apostle Paul. Let’s read about it here in Romans 15:14-24.
Did you notice the three locations there? Jerusalem was the beginning point
of the Christian church. Then he said, “round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Now we would call that modern-day Yugoslavia, all the way over to that part of Eastern Europe. Then Paul says, “I’m probably going to come see you guys in Rome, but it’s only on my way to Spain.” Now, had you looked at a map of the civilized world when Paul was in Corinth and wrote these words in about 56 or 57 A.D., you wouldn’t have found Spain on the map, because it was such an utter end-of-the-earth at that time. In those days, they thought the earth was flat. If you sailed much past Spain, you were going to drop off the end of the earth. Paul says, “My heart’s desire is to go where Christ has never been preached,
even if I have to go to the very ends of the earth.” We know Spain is not the end of the earth. We know the earth is a globe, and we can go all the way around the world, taking the gospel.
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