Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses… We all have struggles in this life. We all need examples of courage and fortitude and humility. The scriptures supply us with many such examples, and history also tells of men and women who sacrificed their homes, and comforts, and sometimes their very lives to follow the Master.
When we find ourselves struggling to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’, it is beneficial to read of others who have experienced the same trials and difficulties, or greater ones, and found the power in Christ to rise above them.
In 50 People Every Christian Should Know Warren Wiersbe tells the stories of just such heroes. Glimpses into the lives of these faithful include, J Hudson Taylor, an Englishman who committed his life to serving the people of China. Miraculously converted at the age of seventeen, he spent the next years preparing for service in the foreign field. Eating sparingly, learning medicine, and walking by faith in his finances, he learned to trust God in everything. Sailing to China in 1853, Taylor sought to reach the people of China with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the customs of missionaries and the pleasure of his mission board, he dressed in traditional Chinese costume including the long Chinese hair braid called a queue. Since most missionary work done in China was in the port cities, Taylor setout to bring the gospel to the inland of China. Traveling through the countryside, often without food and waiting on the Lord’s supply, he would begin the prayer for his meal before it even appeared. Unhappy with his sending missionary board and their decision to incur debt to advance the ministry, in 1865 he founded China Inland Missions and recruited his own missionaries to bring the Chinese people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He coined the phrase, “God’s work, done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies”, because his preference was to never ask for funds for the Lord’s work. Introduced at a speaking engagement in Melbourne, Australia he was once referred to as “our illustrious guest”. He quickly corrected the audience with “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”
Another special saint is listed in these pages, Amy Carmichael. Born in 1867 in Northern Ireland to a prosperous family, Amy had an independent nature from youth. She followed her mother’s apostolic vision and shared the Lord wherever she went. Motivated by the Holiness movement of Keswick England, she sought to devote herself wholly to the Lord and to reaching the lost. She had little time for fellow believers who spent much of their leisure going from meeting to meeting, but never reaching out to the needs of the un-regenerated. As a young woman the Lord put a burden on her heart for the working girls of her town, and she started a program to bring the gospel to them. Meeting at lunchtime at a local church they quickly outgrew the space. By faith God provided their own building and the funds to continue this outreach. She later felt the call to missionary work, and after a false start in Japan, landed in India in 1895. She never returned home again spending fifty-three years with her beloved Indians. By divine circumstances she was led into the ministry that was to be her life’s work. She heard of the despicable practice of selling children into temple prostitution. She began rescuing these children, and in the face of potential imprisonment and deportation, she continued, starting an orphanage and mission compound named Dohnavur Fellowship to raise these girls and boys. Her life was devoted to them. The last years of her ministry she was an invalid and was forced to direct the work from her room. In that time she wrote 13 books and many letters leaving a legacy that can still be enjoyed today.
This book includes icons of the faith like: Whitefield, McCheyne, Spurgeon, Moody , Morgan, Ironside, and Tozer. These brief biographies originally appeared as magazine articles, thirty-two in Moody Monthly and sixteen in The Good News Broadcaster, a ministry of Back to the Bible.
Wiersbe states that his reason for writing this compilation “has been to encourage Christians to “dig again the old wells” (Gen 26:18) and get acquainted with the godly leaders of the past who kept the light shining long before we were ever on the scene. Remembering the great men and women of the past can inspire us to renewed strength and purpose. Our spiritual struggles are not new, and the stories of those who have gone before us can help lead the way to our own victories.”
Book review written by Diane Caston