The Missionary Enterprise is very much alive today. The prophetic word of our Lord continues to be mightily fulfilled: "They shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God." Multitudes have passed through the valley of decision as they have been led thereto, and have emerged new creations in Christ-people and realms of every tongue, born again, born anew, born from above. No story written or yet to be written is, or can be, comparable to the story of this Enterprise. It is not merely history, it is indeed His Story!
To be sure, at this midway point in the twentieth century we hear and read certain terms which are new, and sometimes rather neat - though not always necessary. "Missions" is now being rendered "World Missions". Mention is made of "the new philosophy of missions", whatever that is. Sometimes it is not so much the use of a new term, as the putting of an old one between quotation marks, as for example "heathen"; and there are times when we wake up and realize that a once familiar term has vanished altogether, such as "the pagan". But these things, though symptomatic, are not of too great consequence. The mighty Enterprise has marched, is marching, and will continue to march forward, and ever and only upon the feet and in the lives of good soldiers of Christ Jesus, of whom the world is not worthy.
"From earth's wide bounds,
from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The question naturally arises, though perhaps all too infrequently, What part does the Bible play in the Missionary Enterprise? Just where does this Holy Book, or better, this Divine Library come in? What is the relationship between the Bible and the missionary? And what has been that relationship in the past? Gathered here in memory, and grateful memory, of the one for whom this lectureship is named, such questions are pertinent, for of all ministers of the Word in recent times, none has been more missionary-minded than G. Campbell
Morgan, and to this the history of this great church bears eloquent witness.
The subject in hand is, of course, of vast magnitude, and we shall therefore confine our attention to what is sometimes called the Modern Missionary Movement. The record of experience, simply stated, is this:- the watchword of the true missionary has always been, "It is written", his sovereign ideal to "preach the Word", his one invincible motive, his one joy in service and in sacrifice, to declare this Book.
When, having completed a course of training prescribed by the London Missionary Society, the young David Livingstone returned to Scotland to say farewell on the eve of his departure for Africa, what is the scene unveiled before our eyes? In the dim light of five o'clock on the morning of November 17, 1840, the last breakfast seems almost forgotten, though the kettle is boiling and the meal almost ready. David takes down the Book, the Book he knows and loves so well, turns its pages, and reads the cheering words of the 121st Psalm:
"The sun shall not smite thee
by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from
this time forth, and even for evermore."
Years later, with his life threatened, and confronted by the suspicious pagan chief on the banks of the Zambesi River, David, without fear for himself, turned the critical situation to good account - by doing what? By opening his tin box, taking from it his Bible, and reading from it, "Lo, I am with you alway." It is, he told himself, the word of a Gentleman of the most sacred and strictest honour. And when much later, we see him back again in Glasgow, this time to be made a Doctor of Laws because of his great discoveries, with the students listening spellbound, in perfect silence, he told them of his adventures and of the perils of the way, "Shall I tell you," he asked, "what sustained me amidst the toil, the hardship and loneliness of my exiled life? It was the promise." And again it is the Book to which he turns, as quietly he quotes, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end." To David Livingstone the Bible was the Book, the one Book, and the only Book.
In his work for Christ as a member of the Baptist Missionary Society, Andrew Young, of special and abiding memory within these walls, writing home, put it simply and sufficiently thus: "We preach the Word and leave the results to the Lord." Ah, yes, but notice well, it is "the Word". And in a desperate hour
when his little son Russell was very ill, and to leave Charlotte his beloved wife seemed as incredible as impossible, what did he write? "As, however, it was a matter of life and death for so many people, and a unique opportunity for preaching the Gospel as well, we decided that we should go." No wonder that his biographer was able to write of Andrew Young, "of the Scriptures which were stored in his mind."
And what is the record of Charles W. Abel, forty years missionary to dark Papua? His was a life spent with the Bible as his daily guide. His trust in the Book was simple and beautiful and very sane. "I am fearfully frightened of cranks. We can't go wrong if we pray and study God's Word... There are things in God's Word you will not be able to understand, but they will all be made clear to our imperfect vision some day." Such was his testimony.
"Time rolls his ceaseless course," as Sir Walter Scott put it, and we need but retrace that course to the age of the Reformation to discover the beginning of this era of missions to the heathen. It was not scholarship and it was not science that brought the remedy for the unbelief and spiritual evils under which that age groaned. Relief came with the discovery in the Scriptures and in their holy faithful proclamation of the grace of God in all of its wonder-working power, and manifesting its dynamic in the regeneration of human souls. Not from learning or philosophy came the tides of spiritual revival that swept over Britain, and on towards the uttermost parts of the earth. To re-tell the story of Christian Missions would be to re-write in large part the history of modern civilisation, and to tell what the Bible has been and has done. But the transformation was not wrought apart from human agency. These things were due, as all such things have always been due, to the fact of a tremendously deep and abiding belief in the Book, a belief lodged strongly and fixed firmly within the hearts and minds and lives of men and women.
In my edition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, ("incomparably the strongest thing produced from Westminster Abbey", to quote Carnegie Simpson), the opening words of Chapter I read as follows:
"Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the
truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased."
Here we touch the secret of the meaning of the Bible in the life of the missionary. With a compelling conviction in the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures, the true missionary has gone forth into the night of heathenism, there to proclaim the Light of the Word and of the World. To all the nations has gone forth the sound of his words. How lovely are these messengers that preach the gospel of peace! Oh yes, the by-products have been many and far reaching, as for example, the creation of industry and trade, the advancement of medicine and agriculture, the checking of barbarities and social evils, the spread of education, the transformation in the status of women, the enlightenment of so much in social and civilized life - all these and much besides. But the essential thing, that from whence all else has come, has been the conversion of souls by the preaching of the Word; the lifting up of human spirits out of the gross darkness of paganism into the glorious light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World. The godless has become the godly, the unhappy the happy, the lost the found. And there has been joy in the presence of the angels of God over every one that has repented. Whatever blessings and hopes we can trace to our Christian faith, at home and abroad, whatever light has been imparted to the minds of men, to cheer and comfort their hearts; whatever power there is in it to conquer sin and sustain holiness, all this we must subscribe to the true missionaries of the Cross, to those valiant souls who have gone forth with the Bible in their hands, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
The Bible is the imperative indispensable in the life of the Christian missionary. Nothing is more perilous than to attempt to carry on the great enterprise by ignoring the Scriptures, or by making them secondary to something else. It is sometimes said that the man is more important than the message, but such a view can be fatal to the authority of the messenger. The Missionary Enterprise does not live, and cannot live by its messengers alone. The missionary must first be a man of the Word. As Robert E. Speer put it: "The missionary is primarily a messenger sent to tell a great story." And this great story, we know, is found on the pages of a book, and it is this Book the Church places in the hands of the missionary. It is the Word of God in
the older and truer sense, what God says and does, committed, as the Westminster Confession states, "wholly unto writing." Only as the Bible remains enthroned in the life of the missionary will he remain a man of the Word.
The fact that there are those who do not accept the Word cannot be ignored. Samuel Zwemer once said that the Moslem does not believe in the integrity and authenticity of the Bible, and this is true of other non-Christian religions, but must never deter the missionary in his ministry. We must refuse, and most strenuously, the suggestion that the Missionary Enterprise has been made possible only by transformations in community life, commerce, educational activities and agricultural organization. This is to deny the place and the power of the Bible. The heathen have not been saved, and are not being saved in our day, apart from the faithful proclamation of the Word of God. Anything that tends to take the authority out of the Bible cuts the nerve of the Missionary message, and leaves the messenger without force, passion or effect. "The field is the world," declares our Lord, and apart from the Bible there is nothing adequate to the cultivation, cleansing and capture of that field. The missionary must "preach the Word," or else he had better, far better, not preach at all.
Let us further consider what the Bible is, for what it is it can be, in every land and among all sorts and conditions of men. As Joseph Parker said, it is a "wondrous Book - now all wisdom, now all judgment - a fountain in the wilderness, a shade as of a great rock in a weary land - an infinite provision for the soul's infinite hunger - not a man-made Book at all, but quite full of God, awful, solemn, sublime with God. Other books come and go, but this Book stands for ever, because the world forever needs it."
The apostle Paul looked out and over the world with eyes touched by the Spirit of God. He gazed and gazed, and what he saw he wrote down in the letter he sent "to all that are in Rome." In words that flash and flame with a light not of this world, he put it thus: "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God!" In other words, .he saw and realised the fact of SIN. And were this mighty bondservant of the Lord Jesus back with us in the flesh today, and should he so gaze again, and search the world in which we live and as we know it, we may depend upon it that the verdict he would reach, the judgment he would deliver, would be precisely the same: "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God!" But not only did the apostle see a sin-sick world, he saw something else, and in his letter to the Romans he gave this precedence over what he had first seen. He saw
SALVATION, the good tidings, the news which had changed him, which he had received and acted upon, the news of the Gospel, and of this there flashed from his pen: "I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it IS the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
At this point it may be necessary to remind ourselves that, as P. T. Forsyth expressed it, man's chief end is not to make the most of himself, but to glorify a holy God by the holiness which alone can satisfy holiness; and any conception of God which exalts His Fatherhood at the cost of His Holiness, or to its neglect unsettles the moral throne of the universe. Such doctrine is found nowhere save upon the pages of the Bible, but it is found there. If the missionary does not feel these things and believe in the glorious adequacy of this Book and its doctrine, then he had better cease to call himself a missionary, for indeed he is no missionary at all.
In the first volume of his "History of the English-Speaking Peoples" Sir Winston Churchill pays tribute to John Wyclif and his students, in taking "the tremendous step of having the Bible translated into English." Equally tremendous have been the steps taken of having the Bible translated out of the English. The translation and printing of the Old and New Testaments in the vernacular have, from the very first, formed an integral part of the Missionary Enterprise. And the welcome the Book has received as it was distributed among the native peoples, is as heart-warming to read about as it is inspiring to recall.
Picture, if you will, William Carey, rising a little before six, reading a chapter in the Hebrew Bible. Then follows an hour spent in private devotion. Immediately after breakfast, sitting down to the task of translation, he continues hard at work till late in the day. Not until eleven o'clock are the duties for the day over. Then, after reading a chapter in the Greek New Testament and commending himself to God, he retires to rest. Carey's great achievement in the work of Biblical translation is familiar to many, though few perhaps know that in thirty years Carey and his colleagues rendered the Word of God accessible to vast numbers of the world's population. India has been called "the classic land of foreign missions", and it was in that great land also that Henry Martyn, captivated and inspired by Carey's schemes of translation, threw himself with consuming passion into the same task, and within six short years had completed a translation of the New Testament into three languages.
Consider Robert Morrison, born of humble parentage in the North of England, a simple, straightforward youth. God called young Robert and he responded wholeheartedly. With all his
heart and soul and mind and strength he made a pledge, simple and sublime: "Jesus, I have given myself to Thy service... I learn from Thy Word that it is Thy holy pleasure that the Gospel should be preached in all the world... My desire is to engage where labourers are most wanted." God took him at his word, and used him in the service of the London Missionary Society and in the ministry of the Word in the land of China. Singlehanded, Morrison translated most of the Bible into Chinese, and this in addition to preaching and teaching every day of his life. Nor must we overlook the difficulties involved in the matter of this particular language. Said William Milne, another of God's faithful servants in China: "To acquire Chinese is a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, eyes of eagles, hearts of apostles and memories of angels."
And once having heard his story, who can fail to remember the name of that accomplished Irish classical scholar of Cambridge George L. Pilkington, a layman and, as was said of him, "a born translator." The Bible in Uganda will carry Pilkington's influence down through the years. Not unwilling to build on the work of others, and after five laborious years of unceasing toil Pilkington completed the New Testament in the Uganda tongue, together with a large part of the Old. In 1895 he returned to England to put his Uganda Bible through the press, and while waiting for it, to tell others about the people for whom the Lord was doing great things. In substance this is what he told: "A hundred thousand souls brought into close contact with the Gospel, half of them able to read for themselves; two hundred buildings raised by native Christians in which to worship and read the Word of God; ten thousand New Testaments in circulation; six thousand souls seeking instruction daily; God's power shown in changed lives - and all these results in the very centre of the world's thickest spiritual darkness and death shade!"
Those who are in a position to know have long insisted that the Islanders of the South Pacific were originally the most completely primitive savages among the nations of the earth. It is, therefore, of more than passing interest to recall that the earliest pioneers to these tribes made the work of Bible translation their foremost aim. Following an absence of four years in England, John Williams returned on the mission ship Camden, taking with him five thousand copies of the New Testament in the native language. The wonderful welcome the Book received as he distributed it to the natives who crowded around him, is best described in his own words: "Everyone was eager to buy a copy. One man, as he secured his, hugged the book; another kissed it; others held them up and waved them in the air. Some
sprang away like a dart, and did not stop till they entered their own dwellings and exhibited their treasures to their wives and children, while others jumped and capered about like persons half frantic with joy." Well may we rejoice as we recall these things! In the lives of the missionaries of the Cross no task has been more soul-inspiring, none more glorious, than that of translating the Bible out of the English and into the tongues and languages of the peoples of the world. Nor is the task completed. As recently as April of this year my heart was strangely moved when, in the sanctuary of my study, turning the pages of one of our English religious newspapers to which I subscribe, my eye fell upon these words: "The Bible In One More Tongue." Reading what followed this arresting caption, I was thrilled to learn of another translation of the Bible by a Swedish missionary, a lady now over ninety years of age, who has devoted her whole life to the work!
Thus far we have considered lands and countries which often seem far away and very remote. Even in this "air age" Africa and the South Sea Islands, for example, are as far removed from Europe or the Americas as they have always been. Distances are unchanged, though the time spent in traversing them is much shorter than it was a hundred years ago. On the other hand, many missionaries have not had to go into the far distant places of the world. The Lord of the Harvest has called them, and has kept and used them in their homelands. The Bible has occupied, and occupies an important place in the life of the home missionary, as we may call him. This fact is of tremendous significance in the life of the nation in which God has placed me during the years of my ministry. You will allow me, I am sure, to mention something of the work with which I am most familiar. Throughout the history of the United States of America, a nation made up of people from so many other countries and races, the Missionary Enterprise has flourished. Missionary work has attained amazing proportions, and is maintained and carried on in a multiplicity of ways. By way of illustration, and confining our attention to the field of Church Extension, as we now designate it in my own denomination, there are misssionaries hard at work among the Indians in Oklahoma and in eastern Texas; others who labour among the mountain people in the Appalachian and Ozark ranges; still others who toil among the Latin-Americans in Texas - and with these people I had close contact for eight years, as a Presbyterian School for Mexican Girls was in my own parish. Nor must I fail to include an Italian Mission in Kansas City, Missouri, a Chinese Mission in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a Centre for Jews in Baltimore, Maryland.
And quite outstanding is the 'earnest effort of the Church in missionary endeavour among the Negroes. The evangelization of these coloured people is today a supreme task fraught with great and growing difficulties, and it is to be deplored that neither the endeavour nor the difficulties are known or appreciated as they might be on this side of the Atlantic. Nothing has impressed me more within recent years than the Vacation Bible School provided for Negro boys and girls by the women of my former church in Texas. For the sake of the uninformed, a Vacation Bible School, sometimes called a Vacation Church School, is a school or series of classes provided by a local church for children in the early days of the long vacation, and many such schools are held every year in America. This particular group of boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 16, met in the Negro schoolhouse. No invitation was accepted with greater zest. The enthusiasm was as glorious as it was real. Predominant in all such schools is the Word of God. The Bible is taught and memorized, illustrated by painting and modelling which is taken home to be treasured for many days to come.
So many people, so many places, all involved within the borders of their native lands. These men and women are indeed missionaries, and as truly "sent of God" as those who cross the seas and travel into the uttermost parts of the earth. And in each and every case, whether among the Indians, the mountain folk, the Latin-Americans or the Negroes - in every instance one thing stands out most clearly, one fact emerges and is sure. Everywhere, and among all these people the Bible is the key to the success which, has been attained, for it is the Bible these people have needed, and where the results have been most rewarding, the Bible has been most stressed, by preaching, teaching, and as it is revealed in daily life.
In thus recounting, and all too briefly, these experiences with the Bible in the lives of missionaries, I recall the words of Dr. Harris E. Kirk, known and beloved by many in this Church, in the sermon he delivered as retiring Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in the Spring of 1929. What Dr. Kirk said of the servants of Christ in the apostolic times may also be said of these exploits we have rehearsed, and indeed of the whole vast host: "It was a great moment in history when they turned their backs on the attractions of the sheltered life, and went forth to preach the Gospel to the world. They had a story to tell which they believed would change the fate of mankind, and accomplished their purpose because they were fully in sympathy with the will of their Divine Master. They were men of the message - preachers and teachers
- aflame with patriotic fervour, and derived their authority from the Great Commission. They deliberately sought to live dangerously; accepted hardships as a matter of course; because they were convinced that they were heralds of a message of transforming power." These things have been true of the missionaries, whether serving overseas or at home.
But is it all really worth while? With world conditions as they now are, with the international situation what it now is, with all the perplexities of modern life at home and abroad, with the looming possibilities - yes, and probabilities of nuclear warfare, so fascinating and frightening, does this business of the Missionary Enterprise still make sense? Is it still practical? Is the Bible relevant for these times? Glorious though the past has been - for there is no alternative but to admit that the Enterprise has been most glorious - does all this mean that the Church must continue to maintain her missionary ministry among the peoples of the world? The questions are raised advisedly, for though you and I may never have entertained them, there are those who do raise them as sincerely and earnestly as we may recoil from any such ideas. It is all very well and very easy for us who have always lived in a Christian land, amid the conveniences and comforts of modern living, to shout, Of course, of course! The very idea! Stop sending out missionaries? Cease proclaiming the Bible? Curtail the missionary enterprise? A thousand times no! Never that! I reiterate, it is very easy to talk like that. All of which serves but to remind us of how right we are, never more right than when we say such things. But do we know WHY we are right? It is because the Lord of Glory has spoken unto us, even as He spoke to the eleven of old, and as He spoke to Livingstone, Carey, Morrison, and the rest: "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and disciple the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age."
This we have heard and received, this we know and believe. And here we stand, God helping us, we can do no other. Not only has Christ called us, as Peter declares in his first letter, "out of darkness into His marvellous light," He has commissioned us - who live in the twentieth century. He has handed us marching orders. The Enterprise is His, and we are His, and we are committed to it even as we are to Him! There can be no turning back. By every means at our disposal we must support and strengthen our missionaries, and this involves much more than is
sometimes supposed. We must know something about these men and women, their names, their stations, what they need and when they need it. Over and above and beyond all this we must see to it that, as they are sent forth they are equipped for the task with a weapon in their hands for the fight they wage against "the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness", and that weapon must be "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." The Bible in the life of the missionary was never more important and essential than at this moment. Nothing impressed me more when, three years ago in Texas, I followed the solemn Coronation service of our gracious Queen over the wireless, and heard the Archbishop of Canterbury say to Her Majesty: "...we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords." He was speaking of the Bible - "the most valuable thing that this world affords." In very truth it is, and the indispensable weapon in the hands of the missionary, apart from which nothing he does will avail, as he endeavours to make disciples for Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is written that the prophet Isaiah heard a voice out of Seir, the voice of one suddenly awakened out of sleep: "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what hour is it?" In other words, what is the outlook? The question is most pertinent to our consideration - and I do not say it seems to me it is, because I know it is! "Watchman, what hour is it?" To the enquirer of old a double answer was given. In clearest tones the challenge was met with this reply: "The morning cometh, and also the night," meaning, the light is everywhere, the light of the morning; but the shadows are deepening, too, the shadows of the night. In meditating upon the theme of the Bible in the life of the missionary, well may we raise the cry and the challenge: What is the outlook? And to all such appeal comes the double affirmation: The light about us is bright as day, the light of opportunity, but dark shadows are falling, too, and it may well be later than we think; it is conceivable that the sands of time are running out. No one will gainsay the need for workers in the Missionary Enterprise. "The labourers are few" indeed in our own day and generation. The world needs the Book as never before - this also cannot be denied. And so to any youth, man or maiden, who is now looking out upon the future, and perhaps with questioning of heart and mind, to any such I have this special word. Upon the shelves in my library among the books I most value is one which bears this rather intriguing title: "Half a Lifetime in Korea." It was written by Miss Mary L. Dodson, who spent nearly forty years of her life as a missionary in Korea.
While on furlough in the United States, Miss Dodson united with us in the First Presbyterian Church in Taft, Texas, during my ministry there, so that it was my joy and privilege to meet and know her. Not soon shall I forget her radiant presence in the services of the Church on Sunday mornings and evenings. Upon her retirement Miss Dodson wrote her book, and in it she tells the story of her service in Korea. Almost at the end of the book are these words: "The most beautiful thing about Korea is the beauty of the Gospel in the hearts of the people there. They believe it. They believe God's Word and feed upon it. They believe in prayer and have answers to strengthen their faith. They trust Him and are loyal to Him even unto death. I covet for you the privilege of going to such a land and telling the good news to those who know it not, for there is no joy like that joy." And so, this special word to the younger generation - and I borrow the language of my friend - I covet for you the privilege of going and telling the good news to those who know it not. You may depend upon it, there is no joy like that joy.
"O Master, when Thou
No voice may say Thee nay;
For blest are they that follow
Where Thou dost lead the way,
In freshest prime of morning,
Or fullest glow of noon,
The note of heavenly warning
Can never come too soon."
One morning quite recently I called on one of our missionaries who was home on furlough, to talk with her about the work in the Congo, to ask her questions, and to learn in this first-hand way something of the needs of the mission. It was a most useful and worthwhile pastoral visit, and perhaps the thing that impressed me most was the eagerness with which she told about special seasons of Bible study for the missionaries themselves. From time to time a minister in the home land is given leave of absence, and is sent out to visit a mission station, and while there gives a series 'of Bible studies. Where this is not possible the missionaries select one of their own number to give such a series of studies. These times of fellowship are eagerly anticipated and highly valued. Such retreats are veritable showers of blessing.
In this connection let us remember the words of James in his great letter: "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," an exhortation which in turn reminds us of the closing words of our Lord's Manifesto upon the Mount. As is clearly indicated by the inclusion of the word "only",
those to whom the letter was addressed were expected to be "hearers", but not only hearers - "doers" as well. Of all people in the world today, missionaries are most surely doers of the Word, but there are times when they themselves realize the necessity of being hearers, and not doers only! It is a wise Board at home which makes provision for such times of mental reinvigoration and spiritual re-creation; seasons in their busy lives when the Bible is brought to them, times when they hear it from others, and thus feed upon the Bread of Life.
In closing I wish to recall a statement written in the Book of Acts in the early part of that dynamic book, and alas, too often in these times forgotten and neglected. "The Word of God increased," it is written, "and the number of the disciples multiplied." Thus it has ever been in the enterprise of Christian Missions. The measure in which the Word has "increased," that is, has enlarged its boundaries, has been the measure in which people have been won to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul declared: "Belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the Word." By the proclamation of the Word of God, the Bible, men have entered into closest communion with each other, and that regardless of nationality, They have passed into a fellowship of love, not of this world, but "eternal in the heavens." This is well illustrated in a charming story told by Dr. C. Darby Fulton, Executive Secretary of the Board of World Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, after a visit to the mission stations in the Far East.
"One day in February, 1937, I was travelling on the train. At one of the way stations an old Korean gentleman got on and took the seat facing mine. He carried with him a heavy bundle wrapped neatly in a white cloth. We rode for several miles in silence, when suddenly the old gentleman addressed to me a generous sentence in the Korean tongue which conveyed about as much to my mind as a code message from Mars. But I was prepared for such an emergency and replied in his language, 'I do not understand Korean.' It was the one phrase that I knew, and I had had occasion to use it so often that I could employ it quite glibly. The old man smiled. Probably he was saying to himself, anyone who can speak that much Korean ought to be able to understand more! He tried me with another sentence. Again I replied, 'I do not understand Korean.' This time he responded with loud laughter. But the old man was determined, and he made a third sally at me with another long effusion in Korean. I was about to give him my stock reply; but suddenly it flashed upon me that I had recognized one word. Somewhere amid all the confusion of sound I had caught 'Yesu'. It was the
name for Jesus. I pointed to myself and said, 'Yesu'. Then he repeated, 'Yesu'. No words can describe the sudden sense of fellowship that I felt with that old man. Here we were travelling along together, two mutes, unable to reveal our thoughts to one another or to delve into the experience of the other. But we had one wonderful word in common, and that was enough. We were brothers. Presently my companion unwrapped his bundle, and out of the mysterious shroud there was revealed a big Bible. He turned through its pages and at last indicated with his finger a line that he wanted me to read. I shook my head hopelessly, and resorted once more to, 'I do not understand Korean.' But then a sudden thought came to my mind. The structure of the Bible is essentially the same in Korean and in English, and I knew that the Orientals began at the back and read to the front. Borrowing his Bible for a moment, and noting carefully the number of chapters in the contiguous books, I discovered that he was pointing to the First Epistle of John, the third chapter and the fourteenth verse. I looked it up quickly in my English Bible and read, 'We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.' Then, searching through my Bible for an appropriate reply, I found Psalm 133. i, 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.' It was easy to find it for him in his Bible. I could identify the Psalms by the 150 chapters, and as I knew the Korean numerals I soon had my finger on the right verse. He read it with many noddings of the head, his face suffused in smiles. For half an hour we passed the Bible backward and forward, and through its sacred medium entered into a new experience of that warm fraternity into which our spirits are blended in Christ."
The story is a pleasant one, and most moving. An old Korean gentleman and a missionary from America, travelling together, in fellowship together, hearts bound together in Christian love by that tie which knows no barriers of race.
There is good reason for rejoicing in this, for we know and may be well assured that wherever in all the world, the people have heard and received the message of the Bible from the lips and in the lives of the missionaries of the Cross, they have indeed "passed from death unto life."