The Glory of the Impossible

In both my Missiology and Perspectives classes I have been learning about the eras of missions history and the pioneers who saw many come to Christ and who laid the foundation for the movements to Christ we are seeing today. Some of the people I had heard about or studied before, such as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone. Others I am learning about for the first time and their stories have impacted me with the power of God’s working in their lives.

One person in the latter category is Samuel Zwemer. He became a part of the Student Volunteer Movement in the late 1800s and served in the Middle East for over 20 years. He went on to be a writer and speaker, opening up the Muslim world and training people to go and serve among Muslim peoples. He challenged people to go to the fields that were unoccupied by other missionaries.

In 1911, he wrote an article in the Student Volunteer Movement publication The Unoccupied Mission Fields of Africa and Asia called “The Glory of the Impossible”. Here are some quotes from Zwemer, and from others that he included, that really stuck out to me.

~ The challenge of the unoccupied fields of the world is one to great faith and, therefore, to great sacrifice. Our willingness to sacrifice for an enterprise is always in proportion to our faith in that enterprise. Faith has the genius of transforming the barely possible into actuality.

~Does it really matter how many die or how much money we spend in opening closed doors, and in occupying different fields, if we really believe that missions are warfare and that the King’s glory is at stake?

~ When [Adoniram] Judson was lying loaded with chains in a Burmese dungeon, a fellow prisoner asked with a sneer about the prospect for the conversion of the heathen. Judson calmly answered, “The prospects are as bright as are the promises of God”.

~ From Bishop Phillips Brooks- “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle”.

Samuel Zwemer was not an extraordinary Christian (that I know of) but he was a man who was passionate about seeing those who had never heard come to Christ. His dedication and love for God and for God’s people is such a great example for all of us today.

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