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Jonathan Lees
"I am Debtor; I am Ready"

(Appealing for Missionaries and their Financial Support)
"There is the very closest connection between it and a vigorous spiritual life, whether in the individual or in the community. Constant and earnest prayer for the coming of the kingdom of God will draw your own hearts nearer to Him."
“I am Debtor; I am Ready.”  

A HUNDRED years ago the Bible and missionary societies were all but unknown. Now, in over two hundred languages, the Book of God is read by more than three millions of converts gathered from heathen peoples, and amongst those peoples the Gospel is being preached to some six thousand men and women, sent out by not less than a hundred different societies in Europe and America. That among them every Christian Church must have its representatives has come to be one of the accepted principles of nineteenth century Christianity. A growingly intelligent sense of duty, often rising into a recognition of glorious privilege, impels to efforts, the difficulties of which are daily becoming better understood and more bravely faced, and a deepening sense of the inadequacy of human skill and strength to overcome those difficulties leads to a more constant dependence upon Divine aid. There is hardly a conference of Christian men held in which the subject of the conversion of the world does not find a prominent place. On every hand there is an increasing eagerness to listen to facts relating to the work. Somehow or other, through regular or irregular channels, yearly larger gifts are being devoted to it, and an ever-flowing stream of volunteers are enlisting in its service. Now, it is one thing for us sorrowfully to acknowledge that, as followers of Christ, we have as yet hardly done more than begin to do His will; while it is quite another for us to speak as though the Church were becoming less conscious of its responsibility. This, thank God, is not true, nor is it likely to be. Yet there are those who tell us, to our dismay, that the Church is losing its zeal in this matter. From even professedly Christian men we sometimes hear such remarks as “Well, I believe in home work;” “I have most faith in what I can see;” “There is no doubt that foreign missions do not draw out the sympathy they once did;” and so on. And then, a far more ominous sign-ominous, I mean, as regards the speaker, not the work-one now and then meets those who have an idea that there is truth in all religions; that through, at least, the higher Eastern faiths men may find the great Father, and that at any rate He will take care of the future of the races that dwell in darkness, so that we need make little effort on their behalf.

Now, dear friend, what are we to reply to all this? “What do you say when such things are said in your hearing?

Surely those last and most chilling unbelievers answer themselves. The salvation that is in Christ cannot mean much to them. They have small sense of personal indebtedness to those who brought the knowledge of it to them. For if it is of little moment whether or no the African or the Hindu hears of a Savior, it must surely be of as little moment whether or not they themselves rest in His love. If such talk is sincere and really means anything at all, it means that he who so speaks is losing or has lost his own faith. Or put it in another form. The man avows himself a Christian. Where, then, is his allegiance to his Lord? Are his speculations-his selfish, self-sparing fancies-to be put in the place of obedience to a plain command? Is he wiser than Christ? Or has he a clearer conception of the meaning of the Master than those early disciples who went everywhere preaching the Word? Nay, he is but thus proving his own ingratitude, he is but proclaiming his own lack of the Spirit of Jesus, he is but renouncing his own hope of sharing in the Saviour’s love. One can understand the cynical worldling, to whom all spiritual things are alike nonsense, thus leveling to Buddhism and Mahomedanism to an equality with the Gospel, but not the man to whom the Gospel has brought life. Such language, by whomsoever used, implies either ignorance of Christianity or of heathenism, or of both. …

If only for your own sakes, dear friends, the missionary spirit should be eagerly cultivated. There is the very closest connection between it and a vigorous spiritual life, whether in the individual or in the community. Constant and earnest prayer for the coming of the kingdom of God will draw your own hearts nearer to Him. Larger gifts of time and wealth to extend that kingdom will mean for you a richer baptism of the Spirit of Christ. The consecration of some of your own loved ones to the blessed service would result in the quickening and perfecting of the spiritual powers and graces of those who remained at home. This has been the experience of every age and land. The crown of leadership passed in early days from Jerusalem to Antioch, because the latter city became the centre of missionary enthusiasm and service. The name of St. Paul shines more brightly in the records of the past than that of St. James, and it is in the pages of the great missionary apostle and in those of St. John, whose life-work was done in heathen Ephesus, that we find to-day our highest ideal of Christian character and most helpful guidance in Christian life. ...

Like the great apostle, we must each confess that “we are debtors”; can we also say that “we are ready”? Can we say we are ready to honour the King to whom we have sworn allegiance, and to whose great love we owe our life! Are we ready to answer our own prayers for the coming of the kingdom, which is righteousness, joy, and peace! Oh, brethren, are you ready? To give freely and gladly as God has prospered you, of the gold and silver at which He has made you His stewards? To meet the ever-growing demands of His service with ever-deepening thankfulness? Ready with the strong faith in Him which no difficulty or delay of victory can shake, and with the passionate love which nothing less than uttermost consecration can satisfy “as much as in you lieth,” to seek His glory and to do His Will? If that dear son whose manly strength and mental gifts are your pride and hope, or that fair girl who is the light of your home, come to you with throbbing heart and beaming, tear-dimmed eye to say that they have heard the Master’s voice, will you send them forth, glad that you may give Him of your choicest treasures? Oh, if you are able, why should you not yourself support them in their work amongst the heathen, and so share their service?

To some the Saviour is saying, “I want not yours, but you.” You have heard-you are now hearing-the blessed call. It is a summons to sacrifice, but it is even more an invitation to privilege. It is a call to labour, possibly to sorrow and suffering, but it is also the offer to share a royal crown. Are you ready, dear friend? It is Jesus who, in the persons of all whom you might save, is waiting for your answer. There is a very true sense in which that answer is of more moment to you than to Him. He can and will find other servants; you no other gracious Master. I pray you to decide as you will wish you had done when you see His glorified face.

Taken from the Evangelization of the World by B. Broomhall.