Category Archives: Asia

Alopen — June 21

The Christian missionary Alopen and the Emperor Taizong, China. The first recoreded Christian missionary to reach China, arriving in 635. Educational card, late 19th or early 20th century.

Bible connection

“I see clearly now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” — The Apostle Peter tells the Gentile Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10: 34-35

“Stele to the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion of Daqin.” Daqin was what the Chinese called the Roman Empire or Syria in particular.

All about Alopen (c. 635)

Above is The Nestorian Stele on its Tortoise Pedestal (added after its find), in Beilin Museum, Xi’an, China. The monument is a stone slab erected in 781 AD during the Tang dynasty (618-907) documenting about 150 years of Christian history in China. The writing is in Chinese and Syriac. The stele was buried in 845, probably during religious persecution, and unearthed in the late Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644) around1623.

Emperor Taizong (or Tai-tsung) of Tang first heard about Jesus Christ from a Persian monk, A-lo-pen (his Chinese name — Chinese: 阿罗本 pinyin: Āluóběn), who walked all the way to the capital of China (today’s Xi’an) to bring the gospel to the Chinese. He was probably sent by Patriarch Ishoyahb II of Baghdad, who also sent missionaries to Iran, Afghanistan, Ubzekistan, and India. Most likely, Alopen had been ordained a bishop because he was able to appoint men to pastor the churches he founded. What little we know about his arrival in China and the history of the work that followed is recorded on the stele.

In 635 Alopen stood before Emperor Taizong and presented him with a New Testament. He is the first missionary we know of who travelled the Silk Road all the way to China.

The stele says:

In the time of the accomplished Emperor Tai-tsung, the illustrious and magnificent founder of the dynasty, among the enlightened and holy men who arrived was the most-virtuous Olopun, from the country of Syria…

Observing the azure clouds, he bore the true sacred books; beholding the direction  of the winds, he braved difficulties and dangers. In the year of our Lord 635 he arrived at Chang-an; the Emperor sent his Prime Minister, Duke Fang Hiuen-ling; who, carrying the official staff to the west border, conducted his guest into the interior; the sacred books were translated in the imperial library, the sovereign investigated the subject in his private apartments; when becoming deeply impressed with the rectitude and truth of the religion, he gave special orders for its dissemination.

In the seventh month of 638 the following imperial proclamation was issued:

Right principles have no invariable name, holy men have no invariable station; instruction is established in accordance with the locality, with the object of benefiting the people at large. The greatly virtuous Olopun, of the kingdom of Syria, has brought his sacred books and images from that distant part, and has presented them at our chief capital. Having examined the principles of this religion, we find them to be purely excellent and natural; investigating its originating source, we find it has taken its rise from the establishment of important truths; its ritual is free from perplexing expressions, its principles will survive when the framework is forgot; it is beneficial to all creatures; it is advantageous to mankind. Let it be published throughout the Empire, and let the proper authority build a Syrian church in the capital in the I-ning May, which shall be governed by twenty-one priests.

The “Nestorian” church

Alopen was of “the Church of the East.” The Syrian church forged a different identity from the Eurocentric church of the Roman Empire. It was called the “Nestorian” Chruch by the Roman Church. So the Christians who went to China were Nestorians — at least by Roman Catholic definition.

Nestorianism was named after the Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431. Nestorius was rebuked by the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) for his argument about the nature of Jesus as human and divine. His main contention was that Mary should not be called Theotokos (Mother of God), since that undermines the true human nature of Jesus. He argued she should be called Mother of Christ, which he considered more orthodox in that Mary bore a human in whom God dwelled as in a temple. The Councils both affirmed that Jesus, both God and human was born by Mary and his dual natures are inseparable.

They said the natures were inseparable as in “hypostatic union” (from the Greek: ὑπόστασις/hypóstasis, translated “person, subsistence”). This is the technical term in Christian theology that won the Christology battle to describe the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity. His nature is one hypostasis, or individual personhood. The views of Nestorius were a fine point of understanding hypostasis, not an assertion of exclusive natures in one person. It was not his intent to elevate the human nature. But the Councils decided otherwise. He said: The Word, which is eternal, and the Flesh, which is not, came together in a hypostatic union, “Jesus Christ.” Jesus is both fully human and fully God, of two ousia (essences) but of one prosopon (person).

Elements of the break-off church did develop theology that resembled the thinking the Councils condemned. A brief definition of Nestorian Christology could be: “Jesus Christ, who is not identical with the Son but personally united with the Son, who lives in him, is one hypostasis and one nature: human.”(Wiki).  Both Nestorianism and Monophysitism (which says the Human nature of Jesus was subsumed by the divine) were condemned as heretical at the Council of Chalcedon.

Nestorius developed his Christological views as an attempt to understand and explain rationally the incarnation of the divine Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, as the man Jesus. He had studied at the School of Antioch where his mentor had been Theodore of Mopsuestia. Theodore and other Antioch theologians had long taught a literalist interpretation of the Bible and stressed the distinctiveness of the human and divine natures of Jesus. Nestorius took his Antiochene leanings with him when he was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople by Byzantine emperor Theodosius II in 428.

Nestorious’ role as Patriarch was taken away and he returned to his monastery. His followers, however, applied his name to an Eastern branch of the Christian family tree. The Church of the East first blossomed in Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey) and in the well-known theological school of Nisibis (today’s Nusaybin, Turkey), where the famous poet Ephrem served as deacon. It continued to thrive in what is now eastern Turkey and Iraq.

The Church of the East is often known as the Nestorian Church, even though its connections with Nestorius are tenuous at best. The name is probably due to the fact that this church refused to recognize the 431 Council of Ephesus where Nestorius was condemned for his views on the two natures of Christ. For the most part, however, the reason for their refusal was probably more cultural rather than theological. It was a way to assert the church’s independence from the Byzantine Empire, being part of the upstart Sasanian Empire. While it’s true that Nestorianism spread to the eastern regions, many scholars agree that defining the Church of the East as Nestorian is unfair.

The official language of the Church of the East was Syriac (a form of Aramaic), one of the first languages in which the Scriptures were translated. By the eighth century, this church had spread over much of Asia and Arabia, becoming the most widely spread churches in the world.

More

A reading of the Stele:

Translation of Nestorian Stele [link]

The early Chinese church is further revealed in the Jesus Sutras, discovered in 1900 in the Dunhuang oasis on the Silk Road [link]. The Jingjiao Documents, also known as the Nestorian Documents or the Jesus Sutras, are a collection of Chinese language texts connected with the 7th century mission of Alopen, and the 8th century monk Adam. The manuscripts date from between 635, the year of Alopen’s arrival in China to around 1000, when the cave at Mogao near Dunhuang in which the documents were discovered was sealed. By 2011, four of the manuscripts were known to be in a private collection in Japan, while one was in Paris. Their language and content reflect varying levels of interaction with Chinese culture, including use of Buddhist and Taoist  terminology.

The day Alopen died is unknown. This collection uses offical saints days or death days to honor each member of our cloud of witnesses. We’ve placed Alopen’s day on June 21 to reflect the summer of love between China and the missionaries from Syria.

What do we do with this?

This history of the church is commonly unknown in the United States, mainly because the church and the nation see through a Eurocentric lens. The churches of the Sasanian Empire (Persia) rejected that lens in the 400’s. In welcoming their history, we become part of the true, transhistorical, transnational Body of Christ.

Emperor Taizong was remarkably open. Alopen and his companions were amazingly brave and bold. Whoever made the stele was very skilled and eloquent. The historians who have complied the mysteries of the past and the scholars who keep presenting them are honorable. The whole story of this missionary is full of brilliant, faithful people. Let’s celebrate them and appreciate the gifts each of us brings to the present story of Jesus, too.

Hudson Taylor — June 3

Bible connection

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. — 1 Corinthians 9:13-17

All about Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

In 1853 a small boat left Liverpool with Hudson Taylor on board, a gaunt and wild-eyed 21-year-old missionary. He was headed for a country that was just coming into the European/American Christian consciousness: China. By the time Taylor died a half-century later, China was viewed as the most fertile and challenging mission field of all and thousands volunteered annually to serve there.

Taylor was born to a Methodist couple fascinated with the Far East who had prayed for their newborn, “Grant that he may work for you in China.” Years later, a teenage Hudson experienced a spiritual birth during an intense time of prayer in which, as he later put it, life stretched out “before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy.” He felt called to China. He spent the next years in frantic preparation, learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself ever deeper into the Bible and prayer.

His ship arrived in Shanghai, one of five “treaty ports” China had opened to foreigners following its first Opium War with England. Almost immediately Taylor made a radical decision (as least for Protestant missionaries of the day): he decided to dress in Chinese clothes and grow a pigtail (as Chinese men did). His fellow Protestants were either incredulous or critical.

Taylor, for his part, was not happy with most missionaries he saw: he believed they were “worldly” and spent too much time with English businessmen and diplomats who needed their services as translators. Instead, Taylor wanted the Christian faith taken to the interior of China. So within months of arriving, and the native language still a challenge, Taylor, along with Joseph Edkins, set off for the interior, setting sail down the Huangpu River distributing Chinese Bibles and tracts.

When the Chinese Evangelization Society, which had sponsored Taylor, proved incapable of paying its missionaries in 1857, Taylor resigned and became an independent missionary; trusting God to meet his needs. In 1861, he became seriously ill (probably with hepatitis) and was forced to return to England to recover. In England, the restless Taylor continued translating the Bible into Chinese (a work he’d begun in China), studied to become a midwife, and recruited more missionaries. Troubled that people in England seemed to have little interest in China, he wrote China: Its Spiritual Need and Claims. In one passage, he scolded, “Can all the Christians in England sit still with folded arms while these multitudes [in China] are perishing—perishing for lack of knowledge—for lack of that knowledge which England possesses so richly?”

Taylor became convinced that a special organization was needed to evangelize the interior of China. He made plans to recruit 24 missionaries: two for each of the 11 unreached inland provinces and two for Mongolia. It was a visionary plan that would have left veteran recruiters breathless: it would increase the number of China missionaries by 25 percent. He was wracked with doubt about the dangers his plan presented. But at the same time he despaired for the millions of Chinese who were dying without the hope of the gospel. While walking along the beach on day, his gloom lifted:

“There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with him; that as his servant it was mine to obey and to follow him.”

His new mission, which he called the China Inland Mission (CIM), had a number of distinctive features, including this: its missionaries would have no guaranteed salaries nor could they appeal for funds; they would simply trust God to supply their needs; furthermore, its missionaries would adopt Chinese dress and then press the gospel into the China interior. Within a year of his breakthrough, Taylor, his wife and four children, and 16 young missionaries sailed from London to join five others already in China working under Taylor’s direction.

Taylor continued to make enormous demands upon himself. He was accused of being a tyrant and people left for other missions. Yet by 1876, with 52 missionaries, CIM constituted one-fifth of the missionary force in China. Because there continued to be so many Chinese to reach, Taylor instituted another radical policy: he sent unmarried women into the interior, a move criticized by many veterans. But Taylor’s boldness knew no bounds. In 1881, he asked God for another 70 missionaries by the close of 1884: he got 76. In late 1886, Taylor prayed for another 100 within a year: by November 1887, he announced 102 candidates had been accepted for service.

His leadership style and high ideals created enormous strains between the London and China councils of the CIM. London thought Taylor autocratic; Taylor said he was only doing what he thought was best for the work, and then demanded more commitment from others:

“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” …“The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.”

Taylor’s grueling work pace, despite poor health ended in a breakdown in 1900. He also lost his wife and four of his eight children by living like the Chinese. Between his work ethic and his absolute trust in God (despite never soliciting funds, his CIM grew and prospered), he inspired thousands to forsake the comforts of the West to bring the Christian message to the vast and unknown interior of China. Though mission work in China was interrupted by the communist takeover in 1949, the CIM continues to this day under the name Overseas Missionary Fellowship (International).

More

OMF biography 

Four-minute YouTube bio [link]

Chinese pilgrimage to Barnsley, birthplace of Hudson Taylor [link]

What do we do with this?

What do you think of Taylor’s passion for evangelism? In some ways he was strikingly anticolonial. In some ways he was self-destructively obsessive. What do you do with that? What do you think God thinks of Hudson Taylor?

The Lord’s mission also ended in Jesus’ “untimely” death. Do you think we are called to imitate him in some way?

Are you aware of a people group who need to hear the truth about Jesus? Are you called to do anything about that?

Pandita Ramabai — April 5

Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati 1858-1922 front-page-portrait.jpg

Bible connection

Shout for joy, you heavens;
    rejoice, you earth;
    burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you! — Isaiah 49:13-15

Ramabai on an Indian post stamp

All about Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922)

The Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice name Pandita Ramabai  as one of their favorite saints of all time. She was an Indian activist, evangelist and one of the first modern Pentecostals. Over a hundred years before Malala Yousafzai, she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and those oppressed under the Hindu caste system.

Born in a Brahmin (highest caste) family in south India, in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study at an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hindu texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial for a woman to do, but her father encouraged her as he saw how much she was learning about society, religion and activism. She came to be called by the honorific title “pandita” which denotes an Indian scholar.

In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. She met Jesus there. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”

As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless. When a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many of them to the Mukti mission.

In 1905, Mukti was transformed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds were saved at the community, and they prayed, worshiped and studied the Word of God in ecstasy. Miracles started to happen as the Holy Spirit gave gifts to the girls at Mukti. This happened at the same time as the mighty Azusa Street revival was going on in Los Angeles. The groups somehow got in touch with each other, no doubt by God’ grace. In the January 1908 edition of Azusa Street’s paper The Apostolic Faith, this report from Ramabai was provided:

“One Sunday, as I was coming out of the church, after the morning service, I saw some girls standing near the door of a worker’s room. They seemed greatly excited and wondering. I soon found out the cause. A girl was praying aloud, and praising God in the English language. She did not know the language.”

Many Pentecostal leaders, went to Mukti and witnessed the amazing outpouring among the poor and marginalized. The Mukti community became the cornerstone of Indian Pentecostal mission, like Los Angeles was in the United States and Oslo in Europe. Thousands were blessed through what God was doing there. Ramabai continued to preach the Gospel, save the poor and campaign for women’s rights in the power of the Holy Spirit until she died on this day in 1922.

More

  • For a more detailed biography of Ramabai’s amazing life, check out Christianity Today’s article about her.
  • Here is a nice promotional video from Mukti today:

  • Here is another video with nice pics but probably not in your language. [video]

What do we do with this?

Pray: Lord, help me become as passionate about You and the poor as Pandita Ramabai was, and let her example be an inspiration to many.

Pray for the needy in India and around the world. Thank God for people able to creativly beg the wealthy for money to care for the poor.

Consider again what you think and feel about the movement of the Holy Spirit in the world. It has been counterfeited, monetized and corrupted by power-hungry and greedy people. Does that casue you to disown it? Or does that make it ongoing work even more miraculous?

Xi Shengmo — February 19

Xi Shengmo

Bible connection

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. — Romans 8:38

All about Xi Shengmo (Pastor Xi, 1836-1896)

The Confucian scholar Xi Zizhi became a Jesus follower after a failed attempt to pass the provincial level exams in Taiyuan, Shanxi. As he exited the examination hall, he received several gospel tracts as well as an invitation to contribute to a collection of essays on general moral and religious topics. This process was devised by British missionaries, Timothy Richard and David Hill, as a means of opening up gospel discussions with Chinese elites. Xi submitted several winning entries in the essay competition. When he visited the missionaries to collect his prize, he was asked by Hill to serve as his secretary and Chinese language tutor. Xi accepted and his new foreign friend soon helped him overcome his opium habit.

Cambridge Seven

Xi became a Christian, changed his name to Xi Shengmo (“Xi, the overcomer of demons”), and returned to his hometown to convert his traditional Chinese medical dispensary into a church and opium refuge for others seeking to overcome their addictions. He was the first indigenous pastor in Shanxi province, immortalized in Geraldine Taylor’s biographyPastor Hsi: Confucian Scholar and Christian. Xi was fiery, and while he did at times get into conflict with foreign missionaries, a long string of China Inland Mission (CIM now OMF) missionaries (including many of the famous Cambridge Seven) served effectively under his direction. His opium refuge played an important role in the early development of the indigenous Protestant church in Shanxi.

Xi Shengmo also wrote numerous Chinese Christian hymns, which were considered more to the liking of the local people than the hymns introduced by the missionaries. But perhaps the most notable thing about him was the way in which he led the Christian missionary work in his area. The general pattern was for Western Christians to enter an area, raise up churches and then train local people as pastors and evangelists. Xi Shengmo took hold of the work with such skill and energy that the missionaries stood aside, to a considerable extent, as he established clinics and churches.

One of the towns where he worked was Hwochow (modern Huaxian) in Shansi. After his tenure, Mildred CableEvangeline and Francesca French worked there as missionaries for 21 years until they left in 1923. “The ramifications of the Church under the direction of the Chinese Pastorate, in immediate succession to the foundation as laid by Pastor Hsi … were the joy and gratification of the whole community.” (Through Jade Gate and Central Asia; by M. Cable & F. French, p. 16).

Quote

At this time I still smoked opium. I tried to break it off by means of native medicine, but could not; by use of foreign medicine, but failed. At last I saw, in reading the New Testament, that there was a Holy Spirit who could help men. I prayed to God to give me His Holy Spirit. He did what man and medicine could not do; He enabled me to break off opium smoking. So, my friends, if you would break off opium, don’t rely on medicine, don’t lean on man, but trust to God. —Transcribed oral testimony of Xi Shengmo from Days of Blessing in Inland China.

More

Entry from the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity

What do we do with this?

From failure and addiction, Xi was called to make a big difference. He even overcame the “foreign devils” and exercised his own authority. He says it is all because he trusted Jesus. Does his example move you to get beyond something in yourself and get into the mission of Christ in the world in some expanded way?

Amy Carmichael — January 18

Amy Carmichael

Bible Connection

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate. — Psalm 34:18-22 (KJV)

All about Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) 

Amy Carmichael was a well-known missionary during the first half of the 20th century. Her 35 books are loved by thousands.

She was born into a well-to-do, Northern Ireland, Christian family. In her teen years, she was educated at a Wesleyan Methodist boarding school and, at age 13, while still in boarding school, she accepted Christ as Savior. When she was age 18, her father died, leaving the family in difficult financial circumstances, as he had given a large personal loan that was not repaid. The family moved to Belfast. There she became involved in visiting the slums, and seeing the terrible conditions under which many women and girls worked in the factories. She began a ministry with these women. It was unpaid work based on faith in God alone, and the Lord met her needs in remarkable ways.

She became acquainted with the Keswick Movement, and it was there that she learned of a close, deeper walk with the Jesus. The founder of the movement, Robert Wilson, a widower, asked her to come and live in his home and be his secretary. She learned much from that employment. She remembered on one occasion at a Keswick meeting when D.L. Moody preached on the prodigal son. Afterwards, he was talking with Robert Wilson and stopped in mid sentence. He was struck with the moment when the father says to the older son “Son, thou art ever with me and all that I have is thine.” Moody said, “I never saw it before. Oh, the love of God. Oh, the love. God’s love.” Tears rained down his cheeks. Amy never forgot that spiritual truth—”All that I have is thine.” It reinforced her faith that God knew her needs before she asked and wanted to supply them by faith.

She received a “Macedonian call” in 1892 at the age of 24. The following year, she became the first missionary appointee of the Keswick’s missions committee. She went to Japan. But there and elsewhere her missionary efforts met with disappointment. She left Japan for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), went back to England, and then India, where she caught dengue fever.

In India, she saw that the missionary community was very active but there were no changed lives. She detested the meetings with the other missionary ladies—drinking tea and gossiping, showing very little concern for the salvation of those about them. She felt very alone. In reflection, she wrote:

Onward Christian soldiers,
Sitting on the mats;
Nice and warm and cozy
Like little pussycats.
Onward Christian soldiers,
Oh, how brave are we,
Don’t we do our fighting
Very comfortably?

One day as she fell to her knees in despair, a verse she had learned long before floated into her memory: “He that trusteth in me shall never be desolate.” From there on she found that to be true throughout her long life of ministry in India.

She left Bangalore for South India and with the daughter of her host family and several Christian Indian women, began an itinerant ministry through the villages of Tamil Nadu. They were dubbed the “starry cluster,” because the Indians recognized their sincerity and the light shining from them. The members of the band had no salary but looked to God to supply their needs. Their attitude was, “How much can I do without that I may have more to give?” It was during this period of time that Amy took on the habit of wearing Indian dress, which she continued throughout her lifetime.

A life-changing experience took place in 1901. A little five-year-old girl, named Pearl Eyes by Amy, was brought to her by an Indian woman. Her mother had sold her to the temple, and there she was being prepared for temple prostitution. Twice she had run away only to be caught, carried back, beaten, and subjected to sexual service there. Little Pearl Eyes told her story as she sat on Amy’s lap playing with the rag doll she had given her. She described what was done to her in the temple, demonstrating with the doll.

Amy never forgot that day nor the child’s story. It was the beginning of her work to rescue children who had been dedicated to the temple gods. To do so, she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship. In 1918, they began to also rescue baby boys who were also dedicated to the temple gods and goddesses. Other areas of the work over the years were added such as a hospital, schools and publishing house. Amy was not understood by many of the missionaries in India. She was also greatly resented by the Hindu priests and was frequently taken to court on charges of being a kidnapper.

In 1931 Amy had a fall that left her an invalid for the remainder of her life, and she seldom left her bed. It was during this period of her life that she was most prolific in writing. Occasionally someone would wheel her in a wheelchair out onto a veranda where her children could gather to greet her and sing to her.

Amy was very self-effacing. She rarely allowed her photograph to be taken and never referred to herself by name or personal pronoun in her writings.

Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die,
Another’s life, another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.

More

BBC2 video

Fan video bio focusing on prostitution

Hour-long English bio

Goodreads quotes pages

What do we do with this?

Amy Carmichael’s life reflects a conviction that we should give our “utmost” for God’s “highest.” Her convictions led her to do very unusual things, especially unusual for a woman in her time. She would want you to ponder whether you are receiving the sanctification from God that sets you apart for your best work on the Lord’s behalf. She would want her example to move you to consider how you should shine God’s light and be a conduit for God’s compassion. The whole world is your mission field, even if you end up in a wheelchair!

9th Day of Christmas / The Cappadocians — January 2

Related image
The Cappadocians: Gregory of Nazianus and Basil of Caeserea.

Bible connection

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. — Galatians 5:22-26

All about the Cappadocians

On this day of Christmas many people traditionally celebrate the main members of the radical group known as “the Cappadocians:” Basil of Caesarea (330-379) and his lifelong friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (329-379). They both died in January and, as in life, they gravitated together and are remembered together on this day. May we be radical Jesus followers and loving friends like they were! Like in our time, their era was full of partisan controversy and fragile political and church relationships. They not only stuck together, they brought other people together.

Basil and his older sister, Macrina, received the best education of the day. Basil was ambitious and decided to become a teacher of rhetoric which would have provided the highest available salary at the time. His sister convinced him that his ambitions would just be replaced by further ambitions. He listened to her, was baptized, simplified his life and worked in the local church. He stayed close to his sister, his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, his cousin, Amphilochius, and his lifelong friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (they are known as the Cappadocians).  Within a decade he was made bishop of Caesarea in 370. As bishop, he fought against the Arian heresy and wrote many influential works on the Trinity and the Incarnation, as well as a rule of life for monks that is still used today.

Gregory of Nazianzus, while traveling as a youth, met Basil while studying in Athens. While Basil was determined and impulsive, as well as brilliant and a bit intimidating, Gregory was sensitive, patient, more introverted, and sometimes indecisive. Basil was drawn to public speaking, Gregory to poetry and speculation. But they teamed up for a brilliant teaching series on the Trinity that sealed their public reputations and their friendship.  At one point Basil deceptively pressured Gregory to become a bishop, which he did not want to do. This strained their friendship, but they rebuilt it.

In one of his sermons, Gregory said this about the beginning of their relationship: “When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires, the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper… The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning.” When Basil died, this was Gregory’s epitaph: “A body might as well live without a soul, as me without you, Basil, beloved servant of Christ.”

More

Here is a nice summation of who these good people were and why they are important [link]

Morwenna Ludlow deftly sums up the Cappadocians and the theological issues of their times (that impact ours, still) in ten minutes. (If you want the rest of Timeline, you pay):

You might be interested in the geography of Cappadocia and the famous people from the 400’s [link]

View of the circle backed by a line of tall trees, bracken in the foreground
The “Nine Ladies” on Stanton Moor https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/nine-ladies-stone-circle/history/

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love sent to me… Nine ladies dancing.

The catechists who were supposedly using “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song to teach persecuted Catholics said these nine ladies represented the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit: love,  joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22). These go along with the ambition of Basil’s and Gregory’s life and relationship, don’t they?

What do we do with this?

Memorize the fruit of the Spirit until you can sit back with your eyes closed and meditate on each of them.  Which of them calls to you? What would you do in 2024 to gain and live out one of them more fully? Tell one of your spiritual friends about your ambition. Gregory would have written such a person a vulnerable letter.

Both Basil and Gregory got their truest ambition fueled by solitude and study.  Hopefully you have a Macrina in your life to tell you to ramp back your anxious grasping so you can listen for your truest calling. Is there any way to get more time with God into your schedule?

It is a dancing day. Have you ever heard this old carol: Tomorrow  Shall Be My Dancing Day? It is not only interesting, it is a good one to help you twirl around the room a bit with the spirit of nine ladies dancing in the Spirit.  Shake out some coldness of body and heart.

1. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Chorus
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love

2. Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man’s nature
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

3. In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

4. Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

It goes on…

7th Day of Christmas / Sylvester — December 31

“Gift of God Bar” by Jean Lacy

Bible connection

Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?

Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. – Romans 5:15-19 (The Message paraphrase)

St. Sylvester I, Pope - Information on the Saint of the Day - Vatican News
Pope Sylvester I

All about Sylvester (285-335)

There is probably not a more “pagan” holiday than New Year’s Eve (not that some Christians don’t try to redeem it). If you are likely to go off some deep end, it might be wise to avoid tonight. If you feel strong enough to have some fun with the national celebration of making it through 2023, enjoy!

As a day in the church year, the 7th day of Christmas is the Feast of St. Sylvester, who was Emperor Constantine’s buddy and the pope who presided over the church becoming legitimate in the Roman Empire, along with managing some major building projects! [Irish video] The church calendar does not have a slot for New Year’s Eve or Day — that would more likely be Easter, if you need one, since there’s a beginning to celebrate! The traditional church calendar begins with Advent.

In Europe, some places call New Year’s Eve “Silvester.” In several languages New Year’s Eve is known as “St. Sylvester Night” (“Notte di San Silvestro” in Italian, “Silvesternacht” in German, “Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre” in French).

Sylvester was leading the church when the Arian heresy came to a head [link to video about Arianism]. During Sylvester’s time, the church held big meetings of its leaders to clarify their theology in relation to Greek/Roman philosophy about how Jesus could be God and not just another created being.

Many people are content to leave the “how?” of the Trinity mostly to mystery and deal with the “fact” of relating to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul is looking through the Jesus lens, not the metaphysical lens, when he says in today’s reading,

“If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?”

That is experience-based arguing.

More

Francsican Media bio

Jean Lacy died in March of 2023. [art above]

Seven Swans A'Swimming | Why I didn't think of this original… | Flickr

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love sent to me… seven swans a-swimming. 

The undeserved gift of grace from love that transcends understanding is what Christmas is all about. So, it is appropriate the “secret” meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas has SEVEN swans given on this day.

In terms of extravagant gifts, seven swans would definitely be what rich people have gliding regally in their private lakes. When the carol was written, most people considered swans to be the most graceful and beautiful fowl of all. Supposedly, the English Catholic catechists (who were forbidden to teach publicly) said the seven swans represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God. Others take elements of Bible spiritual gifts lists to make the main seven gifts: prophecy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy). Regardless of your list, the idea is to enjoy these gifts of grace moving in your life, as valued, serene and confident as a swan on God’s lake.

What do we do with this?

Pray: God gifting yourself in Jesus, I receive you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are Arians who believe Jesus is a created being who is therefore not eternal and not God. They specifically argue that Jesus was Michael the Archangel.  Our era tends to solve the problems of heresies and pluralism, in general, by ignoring people or saying everything is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. But our view of God matters. Your view may not be too metaphysical, but what is it? How do you see God, when you are just reacting, not thinking real hard? May weI suggest a Jesus lens, regardless? [About the Arian crisis]

Answer this question from the reading today: “Can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?” Journal what you are imagining. If you grasp the gift with both hands, what will that mean in 2024? 

3rd Day of Christmas / John — December 27

“Jesus and the Beloved Disciple” by John Giuliani, 1996

Bible connection

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love (Jesus). – John 15:9

All about John (c. 6-100)

Today is the feast day of John, the Apostle and Evangelist, who recorded the words of Jesus, quoted above. He called himself “the beloved disciple.” I doubt that means he was more beloved than the others, but it certainly means he knew he was loved!

John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and the younger brother of James. According to church tradition, their mother was Salome. John is one of two disciples (the other being Andrew) recounted in John 1:35–39, who upon hearing the Baptist point out Jesus as the “Lamb of God”, followed Jesus and spent the day with him, thus becoming the first two disciples called by Jesus.

Jesus referred to Zebedee’s sons as “Boanerges” (translated “sons of thunder”). A Gospel story relates how the brothers wanted to call down heavenly fire on an unhospitable Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them. John was also the disciple who reported to Jesus that they had “forbidden” a non-disciple from casting out demons in Jesus’ name, prompting Jesus to state that “he who is not against us is on our side.”

John is traditionally believed to live on for more than fifty years after the martyrdom of his brother James, who became the first Apostle to die a martyr’s death in AD 44.

John is always mentioned in the group of the first four apostles in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, listed either second, third or fourth. He, along with his brother James and Peter, formed an informal triumvirate among the Twelve Apostles in the Gospels. Jesus allowed them to be the only apostles present at three particular occasions during his public ministry: the raising of Jairus’ daughter, his transfiguration, and his time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus sent only Peter and John into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal.

After the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, only Peter and John followed him into the palace of the high-priest. The “beloved disciple” alone, among the Apostles, remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross. Following the instruction of Jesus from the Cross, the beloved disciple took Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his care. Peter and John were also the only two apostles who ran to the empty tomb after Mary Magdalene bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus.

After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the church. He was with Peter at the healing of the lame man at Solomon’s Porch in the Temple and he was also thrown into prison with Peter. Later, only Peter and John went to visit the newly converted believers in Samaria.

Most authorship of New Testament works are disputed. John is the author of the Gospel bearing his name, three letters and the Book of Revelation.

5 Reasons To Love Faverolles Chickens
Present-day French hens — Faverolles

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love sent to me… Three French Hens.

Today is also the third day of Christmas. Going with our spiritualization of the kid’s Christmas song, the singer’s “true love” (that would be Jesus, in this case) sent His true love (John, Paul and the rest of us disciples/friends) three “virtues” — that is, three inner motivations that dispose one to act rightly. In the Catholic catechism, faith, hope and love are the “theological” virtues.

The famous Thomas Aquinas  explained that these three virtues are called theological “because they have God for their object, both in so far as by them we are properly directed to Him, and because they are infused into our souls by God alone, as also, finally, because we come to know of them only by Divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures”

Actual French hens, in the song, are probably just everyday chickens, although fancy French hens have been bred for show since the 1800’s. In the 1600’s, however, a meal of three nice chickens would be what rich people were eating. Some interpretations of the song say the “secret” meaning has a lot to do with expensive gifts brought by the wise men: gold, frankincense and myrrh. In that case you can sing this verse as a praise song, seeing Jesus telling the world how his true love made a feast for him in the cold world, and offered her best to do it.

What do we do with this?

Pray: As the Father loves you, you love me. Thank you.

Regardless of secret meanings, the clear message is all about love: Jesus and you are one another’s beloved and you are exchanging valuable gifts. It would be terrible to keep Christmas with a discussion of the value of chickens or an assessment of one’s virtue, wouldn’t it?!

Be the beloved who got the “chickens” on whatever level you want to interpret that. Supply your own secret meaning, if you like.

Be the lover who gives the gifts. We often feel so needy, we forget our commitment to love. Why don’t you take a step out of your usual reactions to others or your usual routine and do something that gives someone some love in a way they can understand it? Don’t call attention to the fact you are doing this, just be it. Later, write in your journal about how that felt or how it didn’t.

2nd Day of Christmas / Stephen — December 26

Stoning of Stephen — Rembrandt

Bible connection

Read Acts 22:1-21

When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. “Quick!” he said. “Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.”

“Lord,” I replied, “these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.”

Then the Lord said to me, “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”

All about Stephen (ca. 5-34)

The future that dawns with the birth of Jesus does not come without cost.

For Stephen, the future meant trading his life for telling the truth to the powers that be (Acts 6-7). We remember his martyrdom on the second day of Christmas each year. This is the “feast of Stephen” we sing about in the Christmas carol: “Good King Wenceslas.”

BTW — Vaclav (“vatslaf” in Czech) Havel who died a few years back , is a namesake of King Wenceslas and also something of a martyr for speaking back to the powers when the Czech Republic was born in spite of Soviet occupation. Stephen was the first martyr of many to come in the church.

For Paul, moving into the dawn of the future meant leaving Jerusalem in a hurry, at one point. as in today’s reading. It meant an adventurous, but totally unpredictable and often troubling life on the road.

More

Stephen Day: The gift of Martyrdom [link]

An enacted reading of the whole story of Stephen as recorded in Acts 7:

St. Stephen’s Day was a big day in England. It was known as Boxing Day, the day church alms boxes were opened and the contents distributed to the needy. Nowadays is it a big day for hospitality; many people look for people who might be left out to fill their table. In Ireland some places held Wren Day , if you’d like to know another place Mummers came from. [Boxing Day traditions]

Campaign to create turtle dove habitats in North Yorkshire - BBC News

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me…Two Turtle Doves

Receiving doves, a sign of truth and peace, would be lovely enough. If you want to go with the possibly-catechetical secret meaning of the carol, the two doves represent the Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the story of God to the world.

What do we do with this?

Pray: Help me look around without fear and see my opportunities to share your truth and love.

It costs us to tell the story of our faith, or so we fear. What is your story? Spend a minute with Jesus and let him help you remember who you are in Christ. Maybe you should write it down.

Sundhar Singh — November 4

Sadhu Sundar Singh Books E-books - PDF

Bible connection

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. — 1 John 2:27

All about Sundar Singh (1889 – ca. 1929)

Sadhu Sundar Singh was born on September 3, 1889 into a rich Sikh family in Punjab. His mother was a pious woman who had a strong influence in his life. Her prayer was that her youngest son, Sundar, would renounce the world and become a Sadhu (or saintly wise man). She nurtured Sundar Singh in the Sikh and Hindu holy books. Her death when Sundar was only fourteen dealt her son a severe blow. He desperately searched for peace and began reading all sorts of religious books and practicing Yoga. His father put him in a Christian mission school in his village where Sundar developed a profound hatred for Christians. He went to the extent of tearing up a Bible and burning it into pieces.

Lost In despair, Sundar resolved to commit suicide if he failed to get a revelation of the living God. Early in the morning on Dec 18, 1904, he begged God to show him the way of salvation and determined to end his life on the railway track if his prayers were unanswered. At half past four a bright light shone in his room and he had a vision of Jesus. Sundar heard Christ speaking to him, “How long will you persecute me? I died for you, I gave my life for you.” Sundar Singh fell down in worship and surrendered his life to Christ.

This vision forever convinced him that he had seen the true God and it sustained him during the coming persecution. When he cut his long hair to renounce his religion, it was considered as a shame on the whole Sikh community and an unforgivable disobedience. His family poisoned the food he ate and sent him out of the house. He was miraculously saved by the grace of God and timely treatment given by nearby Christian villagers.

Thirty-three days after his baptism at sixteen years old, Sundar Singh began his life as a Christian sadhu. He was distressed to see the Indian church inculcating Western culture, imitating its customs, and failing to present the gospel in Indian terms. Sundar Singh knew that a life of a sadhu was the best way to present the gospel message of Christ to Indians. His yellow robe won him admission into many villages and people listened to him. He wandered barefoot, without any possessions except his thin linen garment, a blanket and a New Testament in Urdu. He preached the Gospel in villages near his home, then he traveled through Punjab to Afghanistan and Kashmir, lands where Christian mission work had hardly begun.

On his travels, Sundar Singh met Samuel Stokes, a wealthy American who came to India to work with lepers and briefly formed and travelled with a Franciscan Friary. Sundar joined with him for some time in ministry. He learned from him the ideals of Francis of Assisi; his life as a preaching friar inspired him.

Sundar Singh was always convinced that the water of life should be offered in the Indian cup. His short stint to equip himself with theological training at St. John’s Divinity College in Lahore in 1909 was largely unfruitful. Sundar considered that religious knowledge of the highest kind is acquired not by intellectual study but by direct contact with Christ. He even surrendered his preaching license from the Anglican church because he did not want to be constrained by a diocese. His call was to be a free agent without holding any office and to take the message of Jesus Christ to all churches and people of all faiths.

Tibet had always been a closed land for Christian missionaries as it was a strong Buddhist nation. Sundar Singh had a special burden for ministry in Tibet. It became his mission field and between 1908-1920 he reportedly made up to twenty risky trips to the country. In spite of stubborn opposition from the Lamas, his message was received in the important town of Tashigang. After returning from a trip to Tibet in 1912 he claimed to have met a guru connected to a Sanyasi (mendicant) Mission who were a secret Christian brotherhood numbering around 24,000. Some detractors loudly criticized what they said was a fantasy.

By 1918 Singh’s fame had spread far and wide and he was flooded with offers to preach all over South India. Thousands of people flocked to his meetings to hear him. He went to Ceylon to conduct powerful meetings six weeks. He was greatly disturbed by the caste system prevailing in these regions and condemned it severely. His ministry extended to Burma, Malaya, Penang, Singapore, China and Japan.

Sundar Singh had the joy of leading his father to Christ in the year 1919. His father sponsored him for his first journey to Europe. Sundar Singh was eager to find out the truth of the accusation that Christianity in the West had lost its splendor. He set off on a tour to England in January, 1920. He stayed in England for three months and went to America and Australia. He addressed huge gatherings everywhere to crowds of all denominations. Sundar Singh found the West to be indifferent to spiritual values and materialistic in their world view. While some people criticized him for his frank judgments, many were challenged and converted by his preaching.

Sundar Singh made a second trip to Europe and visited Palestine to satisfy his long cherished dream of seeing the Holy Land. He preached in most of the European countries to big audiences. It is indeed noteworthy to see an Indian presenting the message of the gospel to the Western world. However, Sundar Singh was disillusioned by the nominal Christianity and immorality of large sections of people in Europe. The Sadhu preferred the hardships of Tibet to the adulation of the Christian countries of the Western world.

Sadhu Sundar Singh experienced numerous miracles in his life which saved him from grave dangers. Once when he was in Tibet in a place called Risar, he was arrested for preaching a foreign religion and cast into a dry well outside the village. The well-pit was foul with rotten bodies and the top cover was locked. For two nights he trapped with little hope of survival. But the third night he saw the cover open and rope being let down and he was pulled up. The Sadhu was convinced that it was an angel of the Lord who helped him. Similarly, he experienced divine help many times when he was beaten up and persecuted.

Sundar Singh also experienced spiritual visions. He was in constant communion with Christ. He received ecstatic gifts from God when he saw visions as frequently as eight to ten times a month which lasted an hour or two. They were not in a dream state and the Sadhu was conscious of what was happening. His spiritual eyes were opened to see the glory of the heavenly sphere and walk there with Christ and converse with angels and spirits. This resulted in severe criticism and he was even called as an impostor and his imaginations as product of a diseased mind. But those who knew the Sadhu personally and witnessed his spiritual life never doubted his sincerity.

In 1923, Sundar Singh bought his own house in Subathu where he rested for almost three years because of heart attacks, trouble with eyesight, ulcers and several other complications which confined him to his home. The busy tours abroad and constant travel and preaching engagements took their toll on him. The Sadhu started contributing to articles in magazine and also writing his own books which amounted to seven thin volumes written in Urdu and translated into English with the assistance of his friends. The bulk of his writings contained messages he received through visions. His writings were influential and touched the lives of many people.

The Sadhu had a burning desire in his heart to visit Tibet again. He was strongly advised not to do so because of his ill health. When he attempted to go to Tibet in 1927, he suffered a severe hemorrhage of the stomach and had to be brought back. In April 1929, at the age of 39, Sundar determined to make another attempt to reach Tibet. He left instructions about his will and bid farewell to his friends. It was his last journey to Tibet and he was never to be seen again. Anxious friends made the efforts to trace him but to no avail. His death added one more mystery to a life which few people completely understood. We remember him on this day, although no one knows when he died.

Quotes

  • The Indian Seer lost God in Nature; the Christian mystic, on the other hand, finds God in Nature. The Hindu mystic believes that God and Nature are one and the same; the Christian mystic knows that there must be a Creator to account for the universe.
  • One day after a long journey, I rested in front of a house. Suddenly a sparrow came towards me blown helplessly by a strong wind. From another direction, an eagle dived to catch the panicky sparrow. Threatened from different directions, the sparrow flew into my lap. By choice, it would not normally do that. However, the little bird was seeking for a refuge from a great danger. Likewise, the violent winds of suffering and trouble blow us into the Lord’s protective hands.
  • Should I worship Him from fear of hell, may I be cast into it. Should I serve Him from desire of gaining heaven, may He keep me out. But should I worship Him from love alone, He reveals Himself to me, that my whole heart may be filled with His love and presence
  • From my many years experience I can unhesitatingly say that the cross bears those who bear the cross.
  • “In a Tibetan village I noticed a crowd of people standing under a burning tree and looking up into the branches. I came near and discovered in the branches a bird which was anxiously flying round a nest full of young ones. The mother bird wanted to save her little ones, but she could not. When the fire reached the nest the people waited breathlessly to see what she would do. No one could climb the tree, no one could help her. Now she could easily have saved her own life by flight, but instead of fleeing she sat down on the nest, covering the little ones carefully with her wings. The fire seized her and burnt her to ashes. She showed her love to her little ones by giving her life for them. If then, this little insignificant creature had such love, how much more must our Heavenly Father love His children, the Creator love His creatures!”

More

  • Biography by Phyllis Thompson
  • Nine minutes of reading with nice music.
  • A Ken Anderson (1917-2006) film from 1969. (Liam Neeson’s first role was as “Evangelist” in Anderson’s Pilgrim’s Progress. )

What do we do with this?

Sundar Singh is still misunderstood. Westerners have combed his writings for flaws and syncretism. He may have veered toward Swedenborgian ideas and back. He may have turned the gospel in Hindu and Buddhist directions. He has been called a Universalist. He was an evangelist in Sadhu clothing. You’ll have to decide what orthodoxy means to you. Singh was less interested in orthodoxy than in getting the gospel to Indians, who knew more about Western culture than they did about Jesus.

What is your evangelism like? Do you have a strategy (or just a criticism about the strategies of others)?

Ask God for a vision of his presence and a call that is worth giving your life to completely.