For our daily family devotions, we’ve been reading This Day in Baptist History II by David L. Cummins and E. Wayne Thompson. Dr. Cummins is now in Heaven, but he was our BWM deputation director for many years. So, even more reason this book has a special place in our heart.
Today’s devotion, July 6, was very timely. It tells of a forgotten philanthropic hero, Robert Arthington of Leeds, England. Mr. Arthington sacrificed his own creature comforts in order to give as much as possible to missions. He even underwrote the cost and upkeep of a steamship so that missionaries in Africa could reach the lost along the Congo River. I can only imagine the profound joy in Mr. Arthington’s heart when he went to Heaven and met believers from African nations who came to Christ because messengers came on a steamship up the Congo to share the Good News!
This is what Dr. Cummins tells us of Mr. Arthington’s personal life in the 1870’s:
He deprived himself of all but the barest of necessities, wore the same coat for seventeen years, and even begrudged the use of candles, that he might devote the utmost farthing to world evangelization…[He,] a Cambridge graduate, lived in a single room, cooking his own meals; and he gave foreign missions five hundred thousand pounds on the condition that it was all to be spent on pioneer work within twenty-five years. He wrote these words: “Gladly would I make the floor my bed, a box my chair, and another box my table, rather than that men should perish for want of the knowledge of Christ.” (emphasis mine)
In our day of materialism, how we need to examine our own giving to see whether it reflects our love of souls or our love of self. May God raise up, not a few millionaires to support the work of missions, but a host of men and women with the spiritual determination of Robert Arthington to sacrifice and to send forward the knowledge of Christ.
Fast forward to 2012 — I read in the papers that box office sales in the States are breaking records. The theme parks at Disney World have to close their doors as early as 10:30 am because they have already reached their maximum capacity. Americans seem to have discretionary funds to spend. Meanwhile, missions giving is down in churches across the country. Missionaries are taking longer than ever to raise the necessary support to leave for the field. Veteran missionaries on the field are losing support. Churches are having to cut back on mission trips. Why? Have we lost sight of the eternal? Would you be willing to follow Mr. Arthington’s example and make personal sacrifices in order to give more to world-wide evangelism? Would you sacrifice the immediate pleasures in this world for the sake of eternal rewards in Heaven?