Dr. Lincoln Nelson, Frank Jertberg, Ruth Large Rife and John Barram have something in common with William Carey and Adonirum Judson: they have been promoted to glory with honors having served faithfully in their missionary career! In the past months God has called home four of His choice servants from the ABWE Family. I would have loved to be there to see their welcome home!
Another missionary statesman, and a special friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Harold Amstutz, also stands out in my mind. He passed away in late 2011, and leaves behind his wife and adult children. If there was one thing that God did in me as a result of this hero, now in the Lord’s presence, he motivated me to have the courage to follow through with God’s call on my life. Dr. Amstutz and Helen, his wife who is still with us, are an example godly determination and faith in Christ’s plan to build his church around the world. They were among the first who encouraged my wife and I to take a step of faith and apply to ABWE for missionary service, just a month after being married! We hardly knew the call of God from a stop sign, but Dr. Amstutz believed in us and prompted us to apply for Candidate Seminar. What a surprise when we were approved as career missionaries with ABWE. Dr. Amstutz gave us both an injection of confidence!
Another lady, very close to us, whom we also consider a missionary heroine, Barbara Rogers Purnell, my loving Mom, joined the celestial chorus as well in recent months. She served the Lord as a pastor’s wife for 18 years, and then in many other capacities in local churches in New Jersey along with her second husband, George Purnell. Heaven is growing richer each day as the Father welcomes home His servants. Of course, all our Moms are a sort of a heroines to us! But bear with me and let me share some of my Mom’s heroic feats. These include raising five children on the meager income of a “home” missions pastor, living wherever there might have been a available space, like in an old airplane hanger or a summer cottage in Avon, Ohio, after my father’s heart attack. She was a heroine to raise five children in the back seat of our family station wagon, traveling constantly to visit churches. She proved her love for us time and time again by willingly sacrificing her needs to see that ours were satisfied first. Mom is a heroine because she understood there are more important things in life than comfort and pleasure or family security. She lived for the Cause of Christ, first and foremost.
As our generation of “Baby Boomers” age, so does our parent’s generation. Many of their generation are now advanced in age, and in turn, are reaching the end of life’s long road. These are heroes from a generation that attempted to rebuild their lives after the disastrous effects of World War II. Others ventured out after suffering extreme poverty as a result of the “Great Depression.” They took a of faith to serve the Lord, to build families that reflected God’s priorities and to reach unknown lands and peoples. They dedicated live and health to further the Church, the Gospel and to evangelize those millions without the Savior. Perhaps many were unsung heroes, but heroes nonetheless.
Why mention all these who have gone on ahead of us and have fought the good fight of faith? Is there something to hang on to after seeing these dedicated servants of Christ pass off the scene? You bet there is! It’s called SACRIFICE! All those mentioned, and thousands others like them, paid the price of living for the Savior. They were not immune to discouragement nor did they walk on water. They simply lived each day, as it came, accepting its burdens, fully convinced of the brevity of life and the value of a human soul, being eternally more significant than the glittering sparkle of today’s gadgets and goodies. They counted the cost and gladly accepted the price of sacrificing the short term for the eternal, the passing “high” for a high calling.
Let those who remain behind take stock. The heroes ranks are shrinking right before our eyes. Who will fill their shoes? Who will stand in their place? Who among us is willing to sacrifice what we feel is rightly ours for those who will maybe never know the joy of a warm bed or a hot shower or a safe night’s rest? Who is willing to carry the torch, carry the Savior’s truth, to those bound in darkness and spiritual slavery? My friend, reading this blog: what price are you paying to insure that the Cause of Christ does not suffer?
God still makes heroes–He uses His children for heroic feats. Are you a hero “on deck?” Are you willing to sacrifice your pleasure, your happiness, your portfolio or your college degree for the sake of the Cross? I can solidly assure you one thing of those who have done so: those who are now in glory are not regretting it!
David L. Rogers, M.A.min.
Missionary – Pastor