Portrait of a Pioneer

When I was invited to go to Nigeria several years ago, I prepared myself by reading the story of an early missionary to Africa, Andrew Stirrett. I would like to share some impressions from the book Stirrett of the Sudan, by Douglas C. Perry.

Andrew Stirrett

As an unmarried man, Andrew Stirrett was a successful businessman in Toronto. He was a pharmacist who owned two drugstores, real estate, and stocks and bonds. He was studying medicine at the University of Toronto. He became burdened to go to Africa through reading a pamphlet by Roland Bingham, “The Burden of the Sudan.”

He believed the Lord was calling him to be a missionary. He finalized his commitment by selling his businesses, property, and stocks and giving the proceeds to the Sudan Interior Mission. He traveled to Liverpool in England to study tropical medicine.

At the age of 38, he went to the Sudan in 1902, travelling at his own expense, without having been officially accepted by any mission board. In Africa he lived simply. Wherever he travelled everything he owned could fit into one trunk which could be carried on the head of a native porter.

“The little man was clinging to his call with every fibre of his slight being and his giant faith,” wrote Perry. “God would use the seemingly weak things of the world to confound the mighty.”

He spent years in language study eventually becoming fluent in the Hausa language. The British colonial government restricted missionary access to the Hausa speaking territories in the north for political reasons, So Stirrett opened a mission station on a trade route that gave access to thousands of traders heading north and south, in and out of the restricted area.

His “campfire talks would long be discussed and remembered, passed from mouth to mouth, unknowingly being used of God to spread his word. He had found an open door into the north that no man could shut.” Perry told the story of one woman who had heard about the white doctor at the Wushishi camp. She travelled 650 miles on foot to hear the message of God’s salvation. She became a Christian. When she disappeared it was believed that she was martyred for her faith.

Stirrett  went out on long treks, often outwalking younger men. He went from village to village, preaching the gospel. His regular practice was to rise at 3:45 am for prayer. He usually prayed out loud. He said he never wanted to see the sunrise until he had had two hours with his Master. He scheduled definite days for fasting and prayer.

An online article says, “He never missed an opportunity to give out the gospel. For many years at his headquarters in Jos, Nigeria, he would go daily to the large marketplace, stand upon a rock so that he could better be seen, hold up a large picture of Jesus and preach Christ to those who would give him audience.”

He was one of the translators of the Bible into the Hausa language. He said the crowning joy of his life was  when the British and Foreign Bible Society sent the first shipments of the newly-published Hausa BIble in November 1932. He also wrote Hausa hymns and a Bible concordance.

Dr. Andrew P. Stirrett died in July 1948, having served faithfully in Nigeria for almost 47 years. It was said that “his stature was short, but his shadow of influence over the work of the Lord in Nigeria is profound.” He is buried in Jos, Nigeria.

Pastor Randy Faulkner



Motives for Evangelism

“It has been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Romans 15:20).

There can be no doubt that Paul believed in evangelism. Like the other apostles, he took seriously our Lord’s command that the gospel of salvation should be “preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). So Paul began his letter to the Romans by declaring, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

In the concluding section of his letter to the Romans, he wrote about plans for his further missionary work. He intended to press onward to Spain, a part of the western frontier of the Roman empire, where, apparently, the gospel message of Jesus Christ had not yet penetrated (Romans 15:24, 28). On his way westward, he planned to visit the believers in Rome. This was so that he could ask for their partnership in prayer (v.30)  and financial support (v. 24), as well as the encouragement of their fellowship in the Lord (v. 32).

This was because of the specific call of Christ to Paul (Romans 15:15-17). But in addition, Paul was motivated by the scriptures. He understood that the whole Bible shows that evangelism and world missions have always been on God’s heart. The sweep of biblical history, from the call of Abraham to the second coming of Christ, is the story of God’s calling out from the nations a people for himself.

Paul knew, and he wants us to know that the spread of the Christian gospel was in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The inclusion of the nations was not an afterthought. It was always the plan of God “that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:9).

In Romans 15:9-12 Paul cites verses from each of the main sections of the Hebrew scriptures to prove his point: world missions has always been a priority with God. The message of salvation should and would go to the nations.

In v. 9 he quotes from the psalms: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name” (Psalm 18:49). In v. 10 he quotes from the law: “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people” (Deuteronomy 32:43). In v.11 he returns to the psalms: “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him” (Psalm 117:10).

Then in v. 12 he quotes from the prophetic scriptures to show that all the law and the prophets are fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope” (Isaiah 11:10).

Paul is quoting these scriptures to show the biblical authority for his missionary outreach to the Gentiles. It is integral to the plan of God. The Old Testament is filled with references to God’s compassion for the nations and his intention that they worship him. Paul quotes just a few of them in Romans 15.

This illustrates the continuing relevance of the Old Testament scriptures (Romans 15:4). This also reminds today’s believers of the continuing desire of our Lord that we be faithful to spread his gospel of salvation to others where we live, work, and play.

Everyone needs to hear the gospel. The message of the book of Romans is that all people without Christ are lost, guilty and without excuse (Romans chapters 1-3). If they are to be saved, they must call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). In order for them to do this, somebody must tell them the good news (Romans 10:14). That’s evangelism, sharing the message of the crucified and risen Savior.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Good News for Everyone

There are good reasons to read Romans chapter ten. For one thing it conveys the world’s most important message in terms so clear that any person can understand. The chapter also magnifies God’s grace, demonstrating that salvation  is not a matter of doing, but believing. It shows God’s loving concern for all people everywhere. Romans ten is saturated with quotations from the Old Testament, emphasizing its continuing relevance and authority.

What is the world’s most important message? It is the good news that through faith in Jesus Christ, people everywhere may be given the gift of righteousness (v.4). It is the good news that Christ and his righteousness are accessible, not remote and distant. In verses 7-8 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30 to show that what Moses said about his teaching and the law, is now true of Christ and his gospel.

Romans ten shows us that it is possible to have misdirected zeal. The people of Israel in Paul’s day were pursuing righteousness the wrong way. They were trying to produce righteousness by religious works instead of by faith. In Verses 4-5 Paul contrasts works righteousness and faith righteousness to explain that it is not a matter of doing, but believing.

What is it that is to be believed? It is the truth that “Jesus is Lord” (v.9). This profound declaration was perhaps the earliest Christian creed. It was the confession that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was the “Lord,” or Yahweh revealed in the Old Testament. This is the Christian belief that God is revealing himself in Jesus Christ.

It is also necessary to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. Christ came to earth, died on the cross, was raised from the dead by the power of God, and is now accessible to all who will have faith in him. Paul writes, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:10). To be “justified” is to be declared righteous before God.

This righteous standing is given as a gift of grace to those who trust in Christ and call on him for salvation. Paul quotes the Old Testament again (Joel 2:32) when he writes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). To “call” is to appeal, or to ask. It honors God when we ask for what he has promised to give. It dishonors him when we doubt his promise or try do do for ourselves what only he can do (Romans 10:3).

Romans ten shows God’s loving concern for all people everywhere. “There is no difference” Paul says (v.12). There is no favoritism with God. Racial and cultural distinctions are real, but when it comes to salvation, they do not matter. God wants his gospel to spread all over the world and Paul quotes Psalm 19 to illustrate this fact (v.18).

God has raised up messengers who will spread the good news to the nations of the world. Evangelists, missionaries, witnesses, ambassadors are commissioned to proclaim the gospel as heralds of salvation. Christ sends them, they preach, people hear and believe the message, and they call on the Lord for salvation. According to the Bible, those who call are saved.

This missionary impulse is what is behind Paul’s impassioned prayer for his own people in verse 1: “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” Paul quotes the prophetic vision (Isaiah 65:1-2) that underlies the desire to spread the message. Referring to the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, Paul describes the compassionate God as a rejected parent holding out his hands to rebellious children, inviting them to come home (vv. 20-21).

Here, then, are some good reasons to read and meditate on Romans ten: the clarity of the gospel, the beauty of grace, the accessibility of Christ, God’s loving concern for all people, and the continuing authority of both the Old and New Testament scriptures.

Pastor Randy Faulkner


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