If you were a missionary in a remote tribal jungle, where previous missionaries had been eaten by cannibals, and you had been praying and sharing the good news for years and yet few believed…how would you respond? Would you be discouraged?
How about if your wife and newborn baby died, leaving you alone? Such was the missonary life of John G. Paton. John Piper gave a message at the 2000 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, entitled “You Will Be Eaten by Cannibals! Lessons from the Life of David G. Paton…Courage in the Cause of Missions”
Year after year, “disappointments and successes were strangely intermingled” (p. 247) in his life. There was no long period of time, it seems, where life was very easy. And we would distort the man if we said there were no low moments. “I felt so disappointed, so miserable,” he wrote about one period of his travels, “that I wished I had been in my grave with my dear departed and my brethren on the Islands who had fallen around me” (p. 232). It was not always easy after the words, “The Lord has taken away,” to add the words, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” But the way out was clear, and he used it again and again. When the mission ship, Dayspring, that he had worked so hard to fund, was sunk in a storm, he wrote:
Whatever trials have befallen me in my Earthly Pilgrimage, I have never had the trial of doubting that perhaps, after all, Jesus had made some mistake. No! my blessed Lord Jesus makes no mistakes! When we see all His meaning, we shall then understand, what now we can only trustfully believe that all is well – best for us, best for the cause most dear to us, best for the good of others and the glory of God. (p. 488)
May God deepen and broaden our biblical foundation. May we have Biblical promises stored in our hearts for discouraging times. May God open our eyes not only to the “fields that are white to harvest”, but also to His wonderful, sovereign grace. May we be carried over all the obstacles and discouragements by a great confidence that “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3) God will Himself gather the ransomed from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. What a privilege to be a part of God’s work in missions, trusting in Him for the outcomes.
I highly recommend the reading or listening to the entire biographical message on John G. Paton. Click here.