LIGHTING A FIRE
By JIM McDONALD
In starting a fire three things must be present for success. Fuel, oxygen, and heat are the essential elements. The absence of any one of these will not allow fire. This is the law of nature, thus God’s law. These laws cannot be broken. If we are to obey the commandant of Christ; Matthew 28:19-20. “…. go and make disciples of all nations ….” we must have the energy to do so.
Fire is energy because it excites electrons to a higher state. In doing so it emits light. John 1:4-5 tells us, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Our witness to others must have such energy. First we need fuel. Our fuel is issued to us in God’s saving grace. We are saved and we know it because it is a covenant between God and us. We have solid evidence to support our faith in His creation, His inspired Word (the Bible) and in our relationship with Him. We are encouraged by others in the faith and are to likewise encourage others.
From this foundation we have the required oxygen to facilitate our witness. That is the breathing capability to step up to witness effectively.
Our passion is generated by our enthusiasm. This word comes from theism which is the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe. The beginning two letters of enthusiasm mean “from within.” Essentially, the word means God within us. So, the heat is our passion or our enthusiasm.
Armed with this entelechy (life giving force) the potential and the process of living, we have the ability to be bold and share our faith and the wondrous things Jesus did for us.
Fires start small and expand. For example, an igniter or spark plug in an internal combustion engine produces a small spark (heat) in a chamber of fuel and air. They ignite and expand due to the enhanced heat, pushing the piston down in the cylinder. This happens fast but it’s not an explosion.
Other fires start slowly and need protection from the cooling effect of air velocity. They also need continuous fuel. That is, they need nurturing.
In order for our witness to be effective we need to nourish people beyond just tossing the Word at them. With our passion and compassion we can do our part in loving others as ourselves and help in building God’s Kingdom.
Here is a biography of J. Hudson Taylor a remarkable man. He was an uncommon and extraordinary person. What he did makes me want to hide and it may make you uncomfortable when you consider your contribution. He is not alone in history and he is similar to the Apostle Paul. Our job is not to compare our works to others but there are numerous, excellent role models to inspire us. Such fine examples can and should inspire us to action.
Jim McDonald is a member of Wylie United Methodist Church and the Abilene Association of Congregations
J. Hudson Taylor: Pioneer Missionary
by Fred Barlow
Copied with permission from Profiles in Evangelism, ©1976*
J. Hudson, 1832-1905, English missionary to China. Founder, China Inland Mission. Spent five years translating the New Testament into the Ningpo dialect. At his death in 1905, there were 205 stations with 849 missionaries, and 125,000 Chinese Christians in the China Inland Mission.
|“He must move men through God — by prayer,” that was the philosophy of J. Hudson Taylor, first missionary to the interior of China and the founder of the China Inland Mission. And from that December day when as a teenager he heard from Heaven, “Go for Me to China, “this young Englishman set out to prove his philosophy. That he did so successfully and miraculously makes for some of the most exciting reading in the records of evangelism.
After his call Taylor first moved from the comforts of his home with his parents and two sisters in beautiful Barnsley of Yorkshire to Drainside, Hull, a poverty-stricken, depressing area named after and notorized by its foul ditch. Taylor had gone there purposely to work for a doctor and accumulate a little medical knowledge, and also to accustom himself to something of the loneliness and dangers of living in a strange land where his only companion would be God.
It was at Drainside Taylor learned one can trust God with his last cent. He had been called out late one night to witness to and pray over a sick woman with starving children. As he tried to pray, his words choked in his mouth because he had in his possession a silver coin that would answer his prayer and alleviate their sufferings somewhat. “Hypocrite!” he heard his heart condemn him. “Telling people about a kind and loving Father in Heaven — and not prepared to trust Him yourself, without your money!” He gave them his last coin — only one bowl of porridge between him and poverty! As he ate that last meal he remembered the Scripture, “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.”
The next day he received a package. In it was a gold coin — worth ten times the silver coin. Taylor cried out triumphantly, “That’s good interest! Ha! Ha! Invested in God’s bank for twelve hours and it brings me this! That’s the bank for me!”
Thus at nineteen years of age, Taylor learned he could trust and obey God in every area of his life. There were many lessons to learn, but at the first he learned that a man can take God at His Word. Three years earlier he had taken Christ and trusted Him as his Saviour. At sixteen years of age Taylor had already been disappointed and sated with life. He found the religious life of his parents very dull, although he attended church very dutifully with them. He really desired horses, hunting, luxuries. Alone at home one day he looked for something to read. He picked up a gospel tract and began to read it. At the very same moment seventy miles away his mother was earnestly praying for her son’s salvation. That same day Taylor prayed — his first prayer — and it was answered. He was converted to Christ!
Praying! And answers to prayer! That became the passion of his life. He learned to move men through God by prayer. He asked no man for any material thing. He laid all needs before his Lord. That doctor he had worked for at Drainside had suggested to his young assistant, “Taylor, please do remind me when it is time to pay your salary. I’m so busy, you know, I’m quite likely to forget.” And forget he did. But Taylor remembered that in China he would have no one to ask anything of, only God, so he simply asked God to remind the doctor.
Three weeks later the doctor remembered–but only after he had banked his money. Taylor was broke. It was Saturday. He had no money to pay his rent. He had no money for food. He prayed as he worked until ten o’clock, glad he would not have to face his landlady. As he prepared to leave, the doctor surprised him, “What do you think? One of my patients has just come to pay his bill! He’s one of my richest patients and he could have paid me by check anytime. Yet, there he is, bringing in the money at ten o’clock on Saturday night.” Then he added, “By the way, Taylor, you might as well take these notes. I have no change, but I can give you the balance of your salary next week … Good night!”
Taylor’s prayers were answered. He could not only pay his rent, he had money in hand for weeks ahead — but more than that, he had proven again: God answers prayer and moves men. He could go on to China!
And he did! There were storms at sea and miraculous deliverances in that five-and-one-half months’ journey to China. There was civil war when he landed at Shanghai, rebels holding the city. Fires, famine, fearsome circumstances were fought by the young missionary on his knees and God delivered him. And at the age of twenty-two, eight months a missionary, he also found himself responsible for supplying the needs of newly-arriving missionaries, the Parker family.
Taylor ministered in the river towns, married a wife and saw many miracles in converted Chinese. But on June 25, 1865, he made his move to minister to the millions of China “West of the Mountains, South of the Clouds, North of the Lake”–Inland China. At Brighton, England, on furlough, he opened a bank account: “Ten pounds” (Fifty dollars) in the name of “The China Inland Mission.” His initial goal was twenty-four workers. The next May the twenty-four sailed. Then there were seventy more. And another hundred. And finally more than eight hundred missionaries ministered across the far-flung miles of China’s interior. Truly this man of faith and fortitude had mastered in the ministry of moving men through God by prayer.
J. Hudson Taylor died in 1905, before the communist takeover of his beloved China. His days were days of extensive and effective evangelism. Multitudes of converted Chinese will rise up in Heaven and call him blessed. And many Christian workers whose lives were challenged and changed by the contagious Christian character of Taylor will follow in their train.