Several years ago a friend of mine told me this story about her daughter who was in the mission field somewhere in Africa. I had met her daughter casually when she was still in high school. She was smart and beautiful, having won several beauty pageants. She was called to be a missionary while in college and eventually ended up in Africa where she taught English to the local people in a small village.
One night four native men cut the back out of the tent where she lived and each one of them raped her. She said later that she kept telling herself that they did not understand why she was there and that what they were doing had nothing to do with her ministry, that it was just a crime of convenience. She was sent home to be evaluated and to be cared for by a doctor. Because there was the danger of contracting AIDS, she had to remain at home for six months to be sure her blood tests would be negative for any diseases.
She had suffered such trauma that those who knew her and loved her encouraged her to remain in the U.S. and find some other way to serve the Lord. She could not be persuaded to do so; she still felt that God had placed her in that village for a purpose. She felt that she had made a lot of progress with the people and had earned their trust. She wanted to return and finish what she had started; so whenever it was okay for her to leave, she went back to that village in Africa. Her mother was both worried and proud of her daughter who was determined to put God first in her life and trust him to be with her, no matter what.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Most of us will never suffer any real physical or mental persecution such as many of those who put themselves in harm’s way to do God’s calling. Usually, all we have to suffer is rejection from unbelievers and the loss of friends who do not understand why we would want to become Christians or go to church every Sunday. When I am asked to pray for our missionaries and give special offerings like Annie Armstrong, I am reminded of the danger and sacrifices these people make for the cause of Christ. We may not be called to go to another country, but we are all missionaries because the Great Commission given by Jesus applies to all his followers.
Next time we are encouraged to give generously to a special offering for missions, let’s think about this young woman who was willing to serve Christ, no matter what; and, try to include missions and missionaries in our daily prayer life.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29