No Regrets

William Borden was the son of a Chicago millionaire who dedicated his life to world missions. His biographer, Mary Taylor, wrote that he joyfully gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars from his inheritance to Christian ministries.

After graduating from Yale University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Borden went to Egypt to study the Arabic language and Islamic culture. His intention was to live among the Muslim Kansu people of northwest China to bring them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, after only four months in Cairo, Borden contracted  cerebral meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five. The epitaph on his grave marker describes some of the sacrifices he made to  bring the message of Jesus Christ to Muslims. The inscription ends with the phrase: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

One does not have to be wealthy to have a generous heart for God’s mission in the world. If we have the same concern as the Lord Jesus, we will share his desire that people may be brought out of spiritual darkness into God’s light. We can help accomplish this by giving money to support world missions.

The Bible promises rewards for giving. Paul told the Philippian believers, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17). Apparently, God is keeping a record in heaven which takes into account our financial investments in his work here in this world.

I have a friend who has reached the stage in life where he could retire to a prosperous life, enjoying the American dream. He chooses to keep working, partly for the fulfillment it gives him, but mostly so that the wealth he is able to generate can be invested in world missions. His generous giving is funding important gospel work in Africa.

Don’t get me wrong. He and his wife are enjoying life. They have many interests. They live comfortably and well. But as he put it to me, their greatest source of satisfaction comes not from accumulating but in distributing the wealth God has entrusted to them. They are investing in eternity, or as Jesus put it, they are laying up treasures in heaven.

One way for you  to obey the commission of our Lord to spread the gospel around the world is to designate a portion of your planned giving to world missions. This can be through your local church’s missions program or directly to a mission agency. If you are unsure about how best to do this, consult with your pastor.

By all means pray about this. Pray about how much the Lord wants you to give. Pray about where the Lord wants your gifts to go. There are hundreds of worthy missionaries and projects that depend upon the faithful support of Christian people. If you ask him, God will guide you. Generous giving to support world missions is a normal way for Christians to express their faith in Jesus.

When Bill Borden said he was going to be a missionary, one of his friends expressed surprise that he was “throwing his life away.” In response Bill wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.” Upon graduation from Yale he turned down high-paying job offers. He then added the words: “No retreats.” When he died, friends opened his Bible to find that he had added the words: “No regrets.”

When we see our Lord face to face, we will not regret our investments in spreading his good news around the world.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Not Me, God!

One of the great privileges of serving the Lord, has been for me to be a member of the executive board of ABWE International. This mission agency provides opportunities, resources and services to over one thousand missionaries in 71 countries worldwide.

I have just returned home from a board meeting at our international headquarters in Harrisburg, PA. We engaged in three days of prayer, strategic planning and receiving reports of what God is doing through his missionaries around the world.

The Lord is still calling out workers for his spiritual harvest. These people are being sent by their churches eager to do evangelism, discipleship,  and church planting. Mission boards such as ABWE support those sending churches by enabling their missionaries to accomplish God’s mission.

They are being called by God to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ through relationship-building, medicine, education, literature, youth ministries, leadership development, and a host of other creative initiatives. They are being called to incarnational ministry.

That is what I spoke about when I addressed the board in a devotional message on the first day of our meetings. My talk was based upon Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus was informing his disciples that they were being sent into the world on the same mission and with the same motives as his own(John 20:21).

The Lord used the title “Son of Man” for himself to identify with humanity. In the same way his missionaries seek to identify with the people to whom they go, learning their language and immersing themselves in their culture, yet without sacrificing their personal identity and authenticity.

The Lord Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Likewise his disciples are called to ministries of servanthood. The word “serve” Jesus used was the word for the lowliest household slave. I wonder how many of Jesus’ 21st century disciples see themselves this way? Someone has said that the test of whether a Christian has the attitude of a servant is how he reacts when he is treated like one!

Then the Lord spoke of his death. In my talk I reminded the group of the sacrifices of missionaries like Adoniram Judson who, when he proposed marriage to Ann Hasseltine said, “Give your hand to me, and go with me to the jungles of Asia, and there die with me in the cause of Christ.” We remembered together the deaths of missionary Roni Bowers and her daughter Charity whose missionary flight was shot out of the sky in 2001 in a case of mistaken identity. It was a drug interdiction gone wrong and our ABWE missionaries died.

What a tragedy, we say! But isn’t that what missionaries sign on for when they say “yes” to the Great Commission of Jesus to give their lives for the gospel? In fact all Christians are called to die to the world, to die to self, to die to sin, with the real possibility of dying physically for Christ.

Several years ago I wrote the following lines, imagining a response to the call of God.

Not Me, God!

Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say “pray.” After all, you’re the Lord of the harvest. What can my prayers do, when it’s all up to you?

Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “share.” After all, you own it all anyway. What can my giving do, when it’s all up to you?

Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “go.” After all, there’s so much to do here. What can my going do, when it’s all up to you?

Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “tell.” After all, I am shy and ungifted. What can my speaking do when it’s all up to you?

Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “love.” After all, I have only so much love. But wait — I think I see, the word I speak, the place I seek,  the wealth I share, the act of prayer, the love I give … is what you gave to me.

Pastor Randy Faulkner