Tuesday, January 21, 2014

THYME Magazine: A Case for Vision II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue V

"Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." -- Isaiah 54:1-5

A Case for Vision II

For three hundred years following the Reformation, many church leaders neglected the command of Christ to reach the nations. Towards the end of the Eighteenth Century, a newly ordained Baptist leader in England spoke to challenge this misapplication of the doctrine of election. "Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he'll do it without consulting you or me," said an older minister. The young man's name was William Carey. He was a cobbler by trade, but his calling would take him far beyond the walls of his little cobbler's shop. Carey's vision, you see, was as wide as the map of the world that he hung on his shop's wall. Gathering some like-minded friends, he began to pray for the fulfillment of his vision.

Carey admired the work of the Moravians [click to read], who at one point were one of the foremost sending congregations, planting churches around the world. They even founded churches among America's Cherokee Nation. Dismayed by his own denomination's lack of zeal for such work, he penned An Enquiry Into The Obligations Of Christians To Use Means For The Conversion Of The Heathens. Seeing the Great Commission as applying to the church of his day, he said: "Multitudes sit at ease and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry."

In 1792, Carey organized a missionary society and called for his fellow believers to: "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!" Few men today would have the patience and tenacity of Carey who said: "I can plod, I can persevere to any definite pursuit." Carey offered to become the first missionary of his society to the great subcontinent of India, offering to go if his friends back home would "hold the ropes." After a fourteen month journey and many personal tragedies, Carey labored on for seven years before he saw his first convert, Krishna Pal. Two months later he published his first Bengali New Testament. He and his colleagues would go on to publish translations of the entire Bible in Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, and Sanskrit, as well as hundreds of lesser used dialects.

Carey was instrumental in significant social reform in India. His work and advocacy resulted in the abolition of infanticide, widow burning (sati), and assisted suicide. Thus did a man's love for his Saviour result in the affirmation of Imago Dei in a whole new part of the world. When William Carey died, he had served the people of  India for 41 years!

When Isaiah wrote the book that bears his name, Israel had forgotten the G-d given mission to be a light to the nations. Losing sight of this important purpose, the people sank into idolatry and pleasure-seeking. Every generation faces the very real danger of missing the great calling. Ours is no exception. Pastor Bruce Hankee related the story of Carey to his congregation, challenging us to program our lives for G-d's purpose through an understanding of Isaiah 54:1-5. He challenged us to enlarge our capacity for G-d's purpose, as Carey did. Ephesians 3:19 exhorts us: "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Indeed this is a great reason to expand our tent, that we might contain more of the love of G-d for our fellows! In lengthening our cords, we are expanding our influence. Just as a cobbler in the middle of England became a major pioneer in world missions, we too can have a greater influence if we will persevere in the pursuit of a great vision.

No comments: