It was a time of great spiritual awakening. If you lived during this time period, you would have felt the fire of evangelism sparking in the hearts of so many around you. You might have been caught up in the fire yourself.
The historical time period I refer to gives a different perspective from the others mentioned to date. I’m not talking about time periods as usually examined by historians. Rather, I’m looking at time periods of evangelism. Looking through those lenses, by far my favorite period is the evangelism awakening that occurred from about eighteen hundred through approximately the nineteen-sixties. During this time, tens of thousands of men and women left the comforts of life in Europe or America and traveled to the remotest parts of the earth to take the light of salvation to those who lived in spiritual darkness.
Many of those brave individuals died at sea, or in the jungles of Africa and South America, or at the hands of the very people they had abandoned everything to help. Still, they went. Their fire was contagious, their sacrifices not in vain, and thousands upon thousands heard the gospel and came to salvation because of them. Some of missions’ great heroes come to my mind: Adoniram Judson of Burma, Hudson Taylor, and Lottie Mon of China, David Livingstone of Africa, Jim Elliott and his brave coworkers in Ecuador … just to name a few.
I was a child of this great evangelical movement. My parents were among the courageous men and women who left everything, crossed a vast ocean to an unknown land because of their passion for the souls of people they had never met. I owe my wonderful childhood memories of growing up in Africa to this movement. But more than that, I owe my own passion for missions to the brave men and women who belonged to the generations before me.
In Revelation 3:8, God tells the church in Philadelphia, “… I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…” The generations before me had an open door too. Theirs was a great calling and many heeded it. It was a calling filled with adventure, challenge, love for their fellow man, and the joy of seeing God move and lost souls saved.
This historical time period is the setting of my first novel—a fiction based on fact. It is the fictionalized story of my parents’ lives and their call to missions.
Today, our door to missions and evangelism is not as open any longer. In fact, new doors close to missions seemingly every day. I stood at the feet of the last generation that have an open door to foreign missions. I saw the zest for the Lord they had and the courage it required in the face of difficulties. The Nigerian mission where I grew up faced the Biafran War. My parents and missionary aunts and uncles witnessed the genocide of the Igbo people, the constant presence of armed soldiers, sudden evacuations, and the fear that the war could be in their front yard at any time. Yet, they kept their course, loving the hurting people around them and leading many to Christ.
There is a song that says, “May those who come behind us find us faithful.” The generations of missionaries that came before me were faithful to their Lord and to their calling. My prayer is that the generation that comes behind ours will find us faithful, too, in whatever tasks God gives us. For writers like me, our task is to write stories and pieces that glorify Him.
So, come away with me now. Climb aboard a boat bound for a foreign land that you have only known from books and lectures. You don’t know how to speak the language, you have only a sketchy understanding of the culture, and no idea of what lies ahead. You have said goodbye to the family you love and will not see them again for several years.
You look back and see the coastline fading from view behind you. You turn your face forward. A salty mist hits your face as the breeze blows through your hair. A grand adventure beckons you. There are places to go, people to meet, souls in need of a savior …
Writing Prompt: The picture above is the view from your boat, where you have been for weeks. The sun is setting, tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow, you should finally reach the coast of …
In the comment section below, write a short piece about where you’re going and what you will do when you finally arrive tomorrow.