Focus – The business of souls
by Ted Horwood, Captain –
When God commissioned Abram, later to be called Abraham, in Genesis 12:2-3, he said, “I will be blessed, you will be a blessing, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” According to Galatians 3:8-9, that promise was for him, Israel and ultimately the Church. Therefore, that promise is for us. God has, and still does bless us. We are meant to be a blessing, and make our contribution to bless all the people of the earth.
The year 1865 was a good one for world evangelism. Residing in the east end of London in 1865, Hudson Taylor sensed God as never before. He had been involved in ministry for many years, but there was something missing. He recalled the days of his early salvation when, “I besought him to give me some work to do for him, as an outlet for love and gratitude; some self denying service…that I might do for him who had done so much for me.” So, on July 25 wrestling in great spiritual agony, he relinquished to God his unbelief, and was propelled to initiate a new missions organization called the China Inland Mission.
Another pioneer of the Christian Movement embarked across the seas in 1865. David Livingston returned to Africa to begin his third and final expedition. He would not see another European for seven years, when, after several months of searching, Henry Stanley greeted him with the now infamous words, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.” He lived with the determination that “In the glow of love that Christianity inspired I resolved to devote my life to the alleviation of human misery.”
Both men had many things in common, but two things stand out: both men knew where they were going. Pictorial maps (called an “accusing map” by Taylor) hung on office and shop walls. They described the great numbers of people in both India and Africa who were separated from the gospel, and knowledge of the King of Kings. And both men knew that the Great Commission could be accomplished. World evangelism could be completed.
There are few church-planting evangelical organizations that could rival the Army in scope and depth of international ministries. However, I also suspect there are few organizations that could surpass the Army in its lack of understanding of its own international ministries. We are an organization in which almost 75% of our soldiership live in traditional missionary countries. Countries desperate for assistance, filled with officers and soldiers praying that we would participate in the promise of Abraham, so that they could be blessed through us.
“Salvation is our business” was the legacy that the Booths left us as they launched our expression of the Body of Christ in 1865. They joined Abraham and the other 19th century Christian Movement patriarchs who could have relinquished the promise. Frustrated by people, responsibility, leadership and lack of resources, the Christian leaders could have left God to fulfill the Great Commission without their help. And we can do the same; it’s a matter of choice.
Almost 100 years earlier, another pioneer of the Christian Movement was born. William Carey grew up impoverished and an apprentice to a shoemaker—certainly an unlikely candidate to be called, “The Father of Modern Missions.” Sparked by the reading of Captain Cook’s Voyages, Carey slowly developed a burden for missions, and the Biblical perspective that foreign missions were the central responsibility of the Church. When he shared his burden for the church with a group of ministers, they remarked, “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine.”
Carey went on to create a missionary enterprise in India that saw the translation of the entire Bible into three languages, many translations of the New Testament, and founded a school for the training of Indian Christians. His now famous statement should be our conviction, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”