In contemporary society, many people think missionaries are fools. Fools who sacrifice their lives, and for what?
William Carey was a brilliant linguist who, in 1793, went to India and endured untold challenges for the sake of the gospel. The Bible is now available in the languages of over a billion people because of his translation work. In the early 1800s, Adoniram Judson was the valedictorian of his class at an ivy-league university, but he left behind a promising career to spend his life in Burma where he suffered horrific hardship and had to bury two wives and several of his children. As a result of his influence, Burma is now the third largest Baptist nation in the world. Fools indeed!
More recently, in the early 1990s, Brad and Cathy Jolly attended seminary at Andrews University and then traveled to frigid Mongolia to start an AFM project where there was not a single Seventh-day Adventist believer. Today there are multiple churches in Mongolia and almost 3,000 believers. In 2012, John Lello and his family left their comfortable life in rural America and launched to Papua New Guinea where John was struck by a falling tree and killed. There are now over a dozen churches in that area that rose up through the efforts of those whose lives were touched by John, Pam and their daughters. So very foolish…
By the time you read this magazine, most will have forgotten about the fool, John Chau. John was the foolish missionary who sought to take the gospel to the people of North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean. On his first journey to the island, John received a flesh wound from an arrow that grazed his body after piercing through his Bible. He believed God had called him to this work. He believed that God wanted the Sentinel people to have an opportunity to know their Creator and Redeemer.
John was thoroughly screened by a mission agency. He had been preparing for years to serve Christ on the mission frontiers, including training as an EMT and studying linguistics so he could learn to communicate with the Sentinel people. He had all the necessary immunizations and had been in isolation for some time so as not to risk infecting the people on the island. But when he made his second journey to the island, he was killed by those with whom he had come to share love and the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus. The world has yet to see what God is going to do through the influence of another fool.
Perhaps the greatest of Fools is the God who left heaven and came to this world to become a Missionary. Jesus Christ left the untainted courts of heaven knowing that He would be ignored, persecuted, spat upon, rejected and ultimately crucified. While the world sees foolishness, God sees the end from the beginning.
We invite you to join us. Come be a missionary fool. A fool for Christ. From the vantage point of heaven, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”1
1Jim Elliott, quoted in Elisabeth Elliot, In The Shadow of the Almighty, Harper and Row, 1958.