Monthly Archives: October 2011

God’s Champions: J. Hudson Taylor

Can all the Christians in England sit still with folded arms while these multitudes [in China] are perishing—perishing for lack of knowledge—for lack of that knowledge which England possesses so richly?

:from China: Its Spiritual Need and Claims by Hudson Taylor

In 1832 James Taylor, a British chemist, prayed that if he ever had a son, he would serve God in China. As a child, his son James Hudson Taylor always claimed that he intended to do just that – though he’d never been informed of his father’s prayer. At sixteen, the young Taylor was disillusioned and bored by the church, but as his mother prayed for his salvation, God reached him.

Three short years later, Taylor traveled to a poverty-stricken British village called Drainside to work for a doctor and minister to the poor. There he learned much; above all, he learned to trust. He witnessed to a destitute, ill mother on the street and urged her to trust the Lord’s providence – all the while carrying a coin in his pocket that would feed her! He surrendered to the conviction to give it over to her, and went home penniless. The next day, a package arrived containing a gold coin worth far more than the silver one he’d parted with. The experienced colored the rest of his life’s work. The missionary organization he founded, China Inland Mission (known today as OMF International) took up a stern policy of never soliciting money from donors, but only trusting in the Lord’s provision.

Taylor traveled in China for the first time in 1853 at the age of twenty-one. He spent a few months on the coast of China, where most other missionaries there lived and worked. He was aware of a sense of foolhardy pride in these missionaries; they esteemed themselves for the work they were doing, as if there were not millions of unreached people just beyond them.

Taylor scorned the contemporary practice of missionaries wearing their own native dress; instead, he insisted that a missionary ought to mirror the people he wished to reach in every way possible. To that end he took up Chinese dress, in the face of hardship, ridicule and criticism. In China, a person’s clothing was a symbol of their status, and Taylor and his fellow missionaries took up the visual status of lowly schoolteachers. Contemporary missionaries mocked and despised this practice, but Taylor was firm, even to the point of adopting the queue, a long braid worn by Chinese men and imposed by a corrupt dynasty. Even in China it was considered a symbol of oppression, and CIM missionaries wore it until a new dynasty abolished it.

Taylor and Edkins would have traveled up and down waterways like this one.

A few months into the mission, Taylor traveled inland. He began by boating up the Huangpu River with a companion named Edkins and a bagful of Bibles and gospel tracts. Eventually, he settled in the city of Ningpo.

Seven years later, a severe illness forced him  to return to England and recover. While he was there, he dictated the book China: Its Spiritual Need and Claims. Frustrated with the lack of compassion he met with back home, he became convinced a mission society and more missionaries were needed specifically to evangelize Inland China. He parted ways with his sponsors and founded his own mission society; thus was born his CIM.

Taylor walked a fine line between firmness and tyranny, as many of the missionaries who worked with him attested, but one might argue that there was no appropriate balance. He had given all to his work, and a fellow laborer who was not willing to part with just as much rightly frustrated him. Yet, how could he ask that of anyone but himself? It was a dilemma that followed Taylor all his days.

The Lammermuir Party - sixteen missionaries and Taylor and his family, returning to China in 1866

Today, at very nearly 150 years old, CIM, now OMF International, ministers to 12 Asian countries.

 

Christianity Today, Issue 52, 1996.
Christianity Today Blog, Aug. 8, 2008.
Wholesome Words.

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A Parable from Paul Washer

I’m letting Paul Washer take over Bible Talk for this week. I mean, I’d like to write a little bit. But the truth is, I can’t really add to this. I am one hundred percent behind this video. You can take it to be as much my opinion as Pastor Washer’s.

So instead of me gabbing away like I normally do, let’s just discuss it.

Are you a physics major or a math major in this story? What can you do, in your life, to be more of a physics major? 

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God’s Champions: Amy Carmichael

You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.

So far in the God’s Champions series I’ve only written about heavily persecuted Christians. But you don’t have to die or face torture for God to be His champion, and it’s not my intent to just tell those stories. This time around, I’m going to tell you about Amy Carmichael, a woman who never endured intense persecution (she was threatened with a seven-year jail sentence, but it was overturned without incident), and wasn’t martyred, for her faith, but who nonetheless gave as much of her life as Graham Staines or William Tyndale did.

Amy was raised in a Christian home and had several defining experiences there. Perhaps the most well-known story regarded her eyes; despite her being Irish, they were a stubborn brown. Amy’s mother, Catherine, told her that God always answered prayer, so she prayed for blue eyes. When they didn’t change, she was disappointed and confused, but her mother explained that ‘no’ is an answer, too. God had his reasons.

Amy was a sickly woman. She suffered from neuralgia, an often debilitating condition which weakened her and caused her great pain. She was  exposed to the mission field by Robert Wilson, whose home she lived in after the death of her father when she was eighteen. She didn’t think it was possible that God was calling her to the work, but with time and prayer she eventually saw that He was.

First she traveled to Japan, where she stayed for over a year. There is a story that, soon after arriving, she was evangelizing in the streets with her translator, who encouraged her to don Japanese dress. Amy refused, saying it was too cold, and her neuralgia was bothering her. The woman she witnessed to that day seemed interested in the gospel – and also in Amy’s fur-lined gloves. The distraction broke Amy’s heart, and she never wore Western clothes while witnessing again.

Soon her failing health forced her to return home, to Ireland. When she returned to the mission field, it was in India in 1895. There, she began to serve children, specifically young girls, whose desperate, impoverished parents had sold them as prostitutes to the temples. It was a horrific life for a child, but few people knew it. In order to verify was the plight was that she fought, Amy felt forced to dress as an Indian, dye her skin dark with coffee and sneak into the temple to see what was happening. Her brown eyes were very convenient for this disguise.

Amy rescued many young girls, by both legal and illegal means. She hid runaways and found families who would take them. Eventually, she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a school and home for rescued children. The children with whom Amy worked called her “Amma,” which, in the local dialect, meant ‘mother.’

Amy lived and served in India for the rest of her life, without a furlough home. In 1931, she fell into a pit and was badly injured. She spent the rest of her life serving the Lord from her bed, writing prose and poetry and overseeing the logistical concerns of her school. Her writing furthered worldwide knowledge of the work at Dohnavur, so even in her injury, God used her.

Amy died in her sleep in 1951.

Christianity.com, Dan Graves.
Rusten, E. Michael and Sharon. When & Where In The Bible And Throughout History. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 2005.

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How many Bibles do you have? And a CHALLENGE!

I bought a new Bible today. It’s pretty.

It’s an English Standard Version, to which my church recently switched from New International. My instinct was of course to go for the cheapest Bible there, a ten-dollar bare-bones imitation leather copy. But then I saw this:

My reaction --> Ohmygoodnessiwantthatrightnow.

It was a little more expensive, but the kid behind the desk let me tear it open and explore and, with all the extra notes, charts, tables, maps, prefaces and theological statements included, I thought it was worth it. Still, I couldn’t help but frown at myself as I handed over fifteen extra dollars – I could have gotten all that information online for free, though maybe in different formats, and quite frankly, I have enough Bibles.

And that got me thinking – ’cause, you know, I do that. When I got home, I inventoried my Bibles, just to see.

I have ESV on my Kindle.
I also have the ESV, King James, American Standard, and a “literal” translation (I don’t know anything about that one – to be honest I don’t really read it) on e-sword. (For real, get e-sword. It’s the coolest Bible study tool I have.)
I have a very nice NIV, hardback with all the notes and charts and tables (different ones from my new Bible, really!).
I have a cute little King James.
I have a cute little New King James, which was a gift. (And actually kind of funny – it’s personalized with a name that I’m pretty sure was a misspelling of “Meghan,” that is, “Meeghan.” It was used, of course, but in great shape. As if had been sold as soon as it was bought in the first place! Hmm.)
I have a flimsy little paperback NIV on my desk, in which I take notes.
And now I have a MacArthur ESV with notes.

So all in all, I have ten Bibles in various translations available to me, five of which are actual copies that I can hold in my hand. How many do you have?

Now there are far worse things than Bibles to have too many of, but even so …
At a Voice of the Martyrs Conference in Beaverton, Oregon, last October, I saw a video clip. I couldn’t find it online (let me know in comments if you can – that would be awesome!) but I can recap. It was a video of believers in an Asian country where Bibles are difficult to get a hold of. A suitcase full of Bibles was smuggled in so that they could have their own copies, and when it was opened, every single person in the room just literally pounced on it. There were probably twenty people crowded around this suitcase, weeping and smiling and kissing their brand-new Bibles.

Most believers there are desperate for the word, but can’t get a copy. There’s nowhere to buy it, for any price, and to be caught with one often means imprisonment or death. These believers would pay far, far more than what I’ve paid to have their very own copy of the Word. It’s not uncommon in underground churches to have believers copy an entire Bible by hand.

I’m not saying we should mail all of our Bibles to China. It’s a great thing that we have the Word so readily available to us. But it does bother me that I’ve spent so much energy – and money – amassing my own personal menagerie, and I haven’t bothered to get any Bibles to persecuted believers who need it far worse than I do.

So I’m making a commitment: I’m going to spend as much money smuggling Bibles into the underground church as I’ve spent on my own personal Bible collection. (I also inventoried the prices of my various Bibles, but I don’t want to share the number – Mt 6:3.)

A CHALLENGE!

Will you do this with me??
It was pretty darn easy to inventory my Bible collection; I just tried to remember what I’d spent on each one, rounding up a little if I wasn’t sure. My number isn’t exact, but that’s okay.
I hope other believers will join me.
I’m going to donate to Bibles Unbound, a branch of Voice of the Martyrs. Click on the picture below to go to their site. Do you know any other organizations? Mention them in comments, so other challenge-accepters can check them out.
Also remember there’s no rush to donate the whole sum right away. Take your time and pay it as you can.

Feel free to leave a comment letting me know that you’ve accepted the challenge! 

Bibles Unbound is an arm of Voice of the Martyrs, which has been ministering to persecuted Christians since the 1960s.


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God’s Champions: William Tyndale


John Foxe called William Tyndale a “faithful minister of Christ” with a mind “singularly addicted” to the Scripture. Tyndale was an educated (and for that matter, brilliant) English priest of the sixteenth century. He was skilled in seven languages, including Greek and Hebrew. And he was driven by Christ. The defining belief of his life – his contribution to the Kingdom – was that all men and women should have a Bible available to them in their mother tongue. This belief came to him in large part from Desiderius Erasmus, his mentor, who said:

Christ desires his mysteries to be published abroad as widely as possible. I would that [the Gospels and the epistles of Paul] were translated into all languages, of all Christian people, and that they might be read and known.

In his late twenties, Tyndale served as a tutor in the home of John Walsh. While he was there, he often debated over dinner with his host’s various learned guests. Foxe relates an instance when a “learned” but “blasphemous” man told him, “We were better to be without God’s law than the pope’s.” Tyndale bristled and replied:

I defy the pope, and all his laws; and if God spares me life, before many years I will cause a plowboy to know more of the Scripture than you do.

The first page of Tyndale's Gospel of John

And to that end, Tyndale devoted his life and death. A year or so after this encounter, he approached the Bishop of London and requested permission to translate the Bible into English. He was refused. He inquired in other places and quickly came to believe that his work would not be welcome if it were done in England. He moved to Cologne and began work translating scripture, but the local authorities got wind of it and stopped it. Next he moved to Worms and there completed the New Testament in English, which he then had smuggled back to England hidden in cloth.

Tyndale moved again, to Antwerp, and hid there for several years. There he worked on the Old Testament and revised the New. He received an official request from King Henry VIII to return to England and face his charges of heresy. Tyndale responded with an ultimatum: he would gladly return, if the king would only allow a vernacular Bible to the people of England – all people, regardless of education, class, gender, race, or anything else. King Henry promised mercy if Tyndale would only return. Tyndale responded:

I assure you, if it would stand with the King’s most gracious pleasure to grant only a bare text of the Scripture [that is, without explanatory notes] to be put forth among his people, like as is put forth among the subjects of the emperor in these parts, and of other Christian princes, be it of the translation of what person soever shall please his Majesty, I shall immediately make faithful promise never to write more, not abide two days in these parts after the same: but immediately to repair unto his realm, and there most humbly submit myself at the feet of his royal majesty, offering my body to suffer what pain or torture, yea, what death his grace will, so this [translation] be obtained.

In 1535, Tyndale’s friend Henry Phillips betrayed him to authorities. Tyndale was taken to the Castle of Villevorde, outside Brussels, and held there. His trial took over a year. He was finally executed as a heretic late in 1536. At the very end, he was offered a chance to recant. He refused. He was then offered a moment to pray. He did, saying:

Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.

And then the executioner strangled him and lit his body on fire.

Tyndale’s translation is a masterpiece. The vast majority of the wording in the King James Version (which came about in 1611, half a century later, though it’s often erroneously treated as the first English Bible) is taken almost verbatim from Tyndale. Many phrases still prevalent in our modern lexicon, like “my brother’s keeper,” “fight the good fight,” and “let there be light,” have their origin in the Tyndale Bible. Many claimed, at least initially, that the translation was full of errors and bad theology. Tyndale’s defense was:

I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.

Christianity Today, Aug. 8, 2008.
Always Singing One Note by John Piper at Desiring God, Jan. 31, 2006.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs on Wikisource.

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