It's that time of the year again--the juniors are studying about famous missionaries from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. One of the assignments for this project is creating a star to hang on our classroom ceiling--a star that represents each missionary and/or the country he or she served. These were mighty men and women, those who gave everything they had and gained...well more than stars.
Every year, as I study their lives again, I'm impressed by the great variety of backgrounds and abilities. It seems that the most important line on the resume for these critical applicants was the one that said: "willing to serve"
Amy Carmichael was from a wealthy family and she was criticized for mingling with the poor;
Mary Slessor's family was so poor, she saved from her missionary salary to keep them from starving in a slum back home in Scotland.
Adoniram Judson and William Carey were brilliant at language...and almost everything else;
Gladys Aylward couldn't pass her classes at missionary school and was told she should serve as a maid instead of aspiring to go to China.
A middle-aged, war-weary Corrie Ten Boom, survived the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp to found a home for the survivors of that terrible time;
Eric Liddell, young and athletic, supervised a group of students in a prisoner of war camp in China, then died of a brain tumor before the war was over and the children released.
David Livingstone blazed trails into the heart of Africa...then left his heart there to be buried with the people he loved; Lottie Moon gave away so much food to her beloved Chinese friends, that she had nothing left. She died on the ship home, weighing a mere fifty pounds.
George Mueller was a thief and a scoundrel in college, but after his life was changed forever, he founded and supported thousands of orphans, spending very little on himself. Count Zinzendorf was so serious and devoted to God, his family hired a special tutor to make sure he spent enough time with parties and frivolous pursuits during his college years.
Sundar Singh hiked on foot over the Himalaya trails into Tibet, preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen to a Holy Man. (Sadhu);
Betty Greene flew an airplane and founded a group of pilots who would ferry supplies and evacuate those who were ill or injured.
Jim Elliot was a prolific writer who left moving and well-planned sermons in prayer journals;
Nate Saint was a pilot and aviation mechanic, who could build a plane from pieces left in baskets. They died side by side in the Amazon, speared by the people they were trying to reach with the gospel...
Ordinary people. Extraordinary lives. They shine.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3