2005-01-04 - A Missionary's Grave
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
I want to tell you about Mr. Rev. Williams. I would like to give some background first. Rev. Williams was one of the first, or maybe the first missionary, to Africa. He died on August 23, 1818. He was one of the first, especially from Scotland, who went to Africa to bring the good news of the gospel of salvation to those who had never heard it. These rare men used to pack their belongings in their coffins, knowing full well that they would die. But they still went, and they still sought to win souls to Christ. It cost them their lives, and they knew it would, but the gospel was more important than their very lives.
Williams ministered in Africa for a little over two years, with the London Missionary Society. He was the only missionary at work in the area where he labored. His grave was simply a large pile of stones. Most of the missionaries who were the first to go to Africa died from ailments they acquired while there. This was not the case with Rev. Williams. Besides his missionary status, he was a humanitarian. He was laboring to develop an irrigation system for the people, and in his spare time he was building a sanctuary for worship. He died from heat exhaustion while putting a roof on the building.
What do we say concerning those who sacrifice every worldly comfort to serve Christ? I feel like I live a comfortable life, and yet I think of those who have given all to serve their Lord. My respect is nothing short of awe. Those who make that sacrifice deserve nothing less than all we can give them in respect and honor. Rev. Williams' grave was marked by a big stone that said nothing on it. We would never find it today. He is one of those servants of Jesus Christ who will never be remembered, and yet he is one of so many who loved the Lord and gave their lives in His service.
It is those like Rev. Williams, who ensure that the gospel continues to go out to those who are lost in a dying and hurting world. We are not to honor the man himself, but rather, we honor the cause that he sought to honor and the Lord he served. We do this by seeking to follow examples such as him. He knew that this life was more than this life. This life is to be lived for eternity. It is not about big houses, nice shoes, a better-than-average car, or anything that is tied to this world. This life is a training camp for Heaven. Let us never forget that.
I don't know if I have the faith of Rev. Williams and those who followed him. I hope I do, but faith that is not tested is just that, untested. I know I can seek to honor those who exemplify such a faith today, and I can look for opportunities to witness for Christ now, but sometimes I wonder if I am not shortchanging the Lord by not going "all out." I don't think we need to feel that way, however. We need to do the best we can, and being buried in Africa is not what we should all be seeking. God gives us all talents, abilities and opportunities - and we need to seek to use them to His glory. Maybe that means being buried in Africa, or maybe it means something totally different. What we must seek is faithfulness.
Soli Deo Gloria,