By Bernard Messing
Bernard is the national lead facilitator for SVM2 in Cameroon.
The Christian life is sometimes characterized in the Bible as a race to be run. (Heb. 12:1)
1 Cor. 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain it.”
1 Tim. 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
and a struggle or an athletic contest to be fought.
Heb. 10:32, “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”
Other prominent terms used of the Christian’s life in the world are labor or toil or work.
1 Cor. 3:8, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
2 Cor. 11:27, “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness
1 Thess. 2:9, “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”
The most successful Christian people are the people who have endure the most testing and trials. God can only entrust you with serious responsibility after you have been tested to see how you will respond to those responsibilities.
Bruce Olson committed his life to Christ when he was about 16. He was abused and laughed at by his father. When he would go to prayer meetings, his father would lock him outside in the cold Minnesota winters(USA). He was called by his pastor who told him to stop his “holier than thou” attitude and quit being so fanatical about his faith.
After all he had been confirmed and that was enough. He was rejected by his friends. He went to the mission field as a 19 year old young man and the missionaries turned against him. They even refused to allow their sons to interact with him. He went to an Indian tribe and was put inside a building and shot with many arrows.
He stayed among this tribe for over a year. During the first four months, they laughed and mocked him. He wanted to find the Motilones, a very primitive and dangerous people and he eventually did find them. His first contact with them was a Motilone arrow stuck in his leg.
He was arrested by soldiers, suffered with all kinds of diseases including hepatitis, was shot by renegade outlaws and lost his fiancée in an vehicle accident. He went through the greatest kinds of physical and emotional suffering.
However, by the time he was 30, he had spoken before the United Nations and the Organization of American States and was personal friends with four South American presidents.
In addition, he led almost an entire tribe of Indians to the Lord and had led them in the most rapid and successful economic development of any primitive tribe in the history of the world.
Bruce Olson has been one of the most successful missionaries in history, but he paid one of the greatest prices for it in terms of suffering and loneliness.
This means we should expect sufferings and tough times in our commitment to serve the Lord as missionaries. If you are going to do anything successful for God, you are going to have to be thorough.
When everything is going our way, patience is easy to demonstrate. The true test of patience comes when our rights are violated—when another car cuts us off in traffic; when we are treated unfairly; when our co-worker derides our faith, again.
Some people think they have a right to get upset in the face of irritations and trials. Impatience seems like a holy anger. The Bible, however, praises patience as a fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love.
We see in the Bible many examples of those whose patience characterized their walk with God. James points us to the prophets “as an example of patience in the face of suffering.” James 5:10 states, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” He also refers to Job, whose perseverance was rewarded by what the “Lord finally brought about.” (James 5:11)
Behold, we count them happy who endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Abraham, too, waited patiently and “received what was promised.” (Hebrews 6:15) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Jesus is our model in all things, and He demonstrated patient endurance. Hebrews 12:2 states, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The perseverance of saints is in fact, a perseverance of faith. It is to stand resolute in one’s commitment to God who is faithful to His promises.
While God’s faithfulness is always guaranteed, he must by definition be true to himself. (Rom3:3-6)
Faith on our side is required in order that we not fail to stand.
Young generation! There is much to be learned from reading missionary biographies. Be inspired by their dedication unto death and their perseverance through every kind of trial and despite seeing little fruit for many years. Check out Mary Slessor, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, William Carey, St. Patrick, the Judsons in Burma, Bruce Olson, and Brother Andrew.