and what to do about it
by General James Green
THE LORD recently spoke to our prayer group during communion time and said that PAGANISM WILL INCREASE AT A TREMENDOUS RATE HERE IN THE U.S.A.! I think most Americans still consider the U.S.A. to be "Christian," at least more so than any other nation on earth.
This reminds me about what I read in one of Hudson Taylor's biographies. Taylor had spent his very early years of manhood in China. Upon return to London, on furlough, some years later, he was greatly burdened for all the millions who would be and were perishing without the saving knowledge of God. His soul agonized over paganism's hold on souls. He went about church to church, mission to mission, trying to recruit Christian soldiers--any available souls--who would go to China.
At one church Taylor visited, the pastor, a friend of his, delivered a sermon and the congregation rose in song. Taylor wrote this in response to the experience:
"At the moment it seemed to worsen the situation. As the full congregation rose to sing the last hymn, I looked around...pew upon pew of prosperous...merchants, shopkeepers, visitors; demure wives in bonnet and crinolines, scrubbed children trained to hide their impatience; the atmosphere of smug piety sickened me. I seized my hat and left, unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand or more Christian people rejoicing in their own security, while millions are perishing for lack of knowledge. I wandered out on the sands alone, in great spiritual agony."
Christian, have we not become SMUG in our securities? Have we not built bigger and more expensive churches, universities, and more, while the whole world lies in utter darkness and is being engulfed in damnation all around us? Have we not given our best years to the accumulation of wealth and degrees and not given even a tenth of pure time, money, and energies for the sake of saving the lost? Is not the "Church," as I write, giving their condolences to the GAY Movement--a disgusting abomination! --rather than seeking to redeem the wretched lost souls who are trapped in that movement? Is not the "Church" spending more money on "church equipment," entertainments, preferred foods and drink, than on reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do not many churchgoers arise and sing (and swing) to their lovely songs, in their lovely churches to their well-fed, well-educated, well-off congregations?
On another occasion, Hudson Taylor visited a church in Scotland, still trying to recruit missionaries for China. The church was noted for only having honorary, leading evangelicals from Scotland and England grace its platform. Only those whose credentials were impeccable, backed up by years of grave public speaking, would speak there. Mr. Taylor hardly fit that profile, for he was, to the world and "Church" alike, a feeble creature of weekly physique, without powerful friends, almost a pauper. But he was a man of prayer, loyal, and was in touch with the Divine.
At that Scotland church he requested to speak about the needs of China. At first the convener was taken aback by his simple request and told him about the character of the conference, saying, "these meetings are for spiritual edification." Well, that is the very reason Taylor wanted to speak!
They eventually agreed to give him opportunity to speak of China. He took it gladly. In simplicity and in fervor of prayer he left the people blessed. The following excerpt is taken from J.C. Pollock's book entitled Hudson Taylor and Maria, Pioneers in China (1962), pp. 133-134, and it tells of that very event.
"He [Hudson Taylor] told them about a newly married young Chinese who fell overboard from a coastal junk [boat] into shallow water and deep mud. Taylor had rushed on deck at the splash and cry, found the crew looking helplessly at the spot where the man had disappeared. 'I leapt overboard and waded about in the hope of finding him. Unsuccessful, I looked around in agonizing suspense, and saw close to me a fishing boat with a pecular dragnet furnished with hooks, which I knew would bring him up.
"Come and drag this spot directly; a man is drowning just here!"
"It is not convenient."
"Don't talk of convenience! A man is drowning, I tell you!"
"We are busy fishing, and cannot come."
"Never mind your fishing," I said, "I will give you more money than many a day's fishing will bring; only come--come at once!"
"How much money will you give us?"
"We cannot stay to discuss that now! Come, or it will be too late. I will give you five dollars" (then worth about thirty shillings in English money).
"We won't do it for that," replied the men. "Give us twenty dollars, and we will drag."
"I do not possess so much; do come quickly, and I will give you all I have!"
"How much may that be?"
"I don't know exactly, about fourteen dollars."
At last, but even then slowly enough, the boat was paddled over and the net let down. Less than a minute sufficed to bring up the body of the missing man. The fishermen were clamorous and indignant because their exorbitant demand was delayed while efforts at resuscitation were being made. But all was in vain. Life was extinct.'
Taylor paused. He could sense hot indignation sweep the Scots at such callous indifference. Quietly he continued, 'Is the body, then, of so much more value than the soul? We condemn those heathen fishermen. We say they were guilty of the man's death--because they could easily have saved him, and did not do it. But what of the millions whom we leave to perish, and that eternally? What of the plain command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature?"'
He dilated on the value of a soul, spoke of 'a million a month...' and swiftly arrayed the mass of facts at his finger tips, to murmurs of amazement at this stark unfolding. The beliefs of his audience on heaven and hell, on the uniqueness of Christ as Savior, on the awfulness of separation from God in this world and in eternity, were his. They knew the terms, the Biblical allusions, accepted the speaker's premises; were genuine in piety but unaware that 'spiritual sanctification' springs from unselfish action.
Taylor passed to the story of an ex-Buddhist merchant, an educated man, who had been baptized after attending the little church in Ningpo. 'He asked me soon afterwards, "How long have you known this Good News in your own country?"
"Hundreds of years."
"Hundreds of years! And yet never came to tell us! My father sought the truth, sought it long, and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner?"'
Taylor began his conclusion. 'Shall we say that the way was not open? At any rate it is open now. Before the next Perth Conference twelve millions more, in China, will have passed forever beyond our reach. What are we doing to bring them the tidings of Redeeming Love? It is no use singing waft, waft ye winds, the story. The winds will never waft the story. But they may waft us.'"
Readers, has not the Western Church become less and less concerned about the millions of lost souls? The numbers of lost souls are too large to count. Shall we not quickly REPENT of our hardheartedness and lack of vision? Shall we not ask FORGIVENESS for our lack of love for perishing multitudes? Shall we not BEG God to give us souls in the harvest?
Should we not honor the Lord Jesus with the first fruits of our time, energy and money? Will we be content to offer Him the fragments that remain after our own supposed needs are met?
Reader, are you afraid to lay your life down for the one who did it for you? Are you afraid to plant the blood-stained banner of the cross even in your neighborhood? How about in your state? nation? or across all the world? The Pagan Invasion is here, and what are you going to do about it? What are you doing about it?
We do not need to be overeducated for this great task. We need to be available. If you are
"dry" in spirit, pray to receive a fresh stimulus to work for the Lord. Pray that the Lord will
enlarge your heart to include the lost and dying. Some of the greatest missionaries have been
common folks with limited educations, low funds and ill health; yet God richly blessed their
services! All they had was a willing heart, a persistent vision of the lost, and confidence in their
knowledge of God's will and of His care, even in the shadow of death . . . which was ever
present. Are you willing to take Jesus to ALL THE WORLD?