Recently I was reading Norman P. Grubb’s book With CT Studd In Congo Forest, which is the account of the ministry of the Heart Of Africa Mission. This mission agency was started by Studd for the evangelism of Africa. Held within this book was the account of the ministry of James Lowder. After some research, I realized that although Lowder had a phenomenal ministry, little had ever been written about him. He was a man who was consumed by a passion for souls. As we strive to reach the world with the gospel, I decided to write this article about Lowder to bring light to the many things that could be learned from his ministry.
HE TOOK THE HARD ROAD FOR SOULS
The story introduces Lowder as follows: ‘’A lean bearded man comes free wheeling down Nala’s palm avenue and swings off his cycle outside Bwana’s (boss in the native language, used endearingly for CT Studd) house. No porters, no baggage accompanies him. So fighting fit is he that even as many as four normal stages in one, bump, bump, bump over the yard wide native tracks, through forest and savannah, at a speed which would put most Europeans on their backs with fever. It was a matter of deliberate training with him.” Lowder was known to drink his tea without milk, to climb across the thickest bush, and to sleep on the ground with no mat or blanket.
It amazes me to think that Lowder would travel with no baggage, on foot, treading through the mud and water to reach the next village for Christ. When conditions were lighter, he moved quickly because time equaled souls! We may live in a time where modern missions do not demand such primate and harsh conditions, but this mindset of doing whatever is necessary for souls should still be at our core.
HE INSPIRED OTHERS TO LOVE SOULS
George Ambrose, one of his early coworkers, said, “My short stay with brother Lowder has been an inspiration, for the work here is the result of his passion for souls, and it has been used by God to kindle within my heart a zeal to win souls such as I have never before experienced.”
Every time Studd would send Lowder a worker, the man would return from Lowder with greater love and vigor for reaching souls. The truth is that soul winning is not taught but rather caught. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and he would make them fishers of men. They learned to catch men for the Saviour by following Jesus. Are your disciples learning soul winning by following you? We need more men and women proclaiming the gospel. This won’t happen with a soul-winning initiative. This will happen with discipleship and a man training emphasis. Every Christian should have somebody that they are training to tell people about Jesus.
HE TRAINED A NATIONAL
One of Lowder’s greatest accomplishments was training a national evangelist by the name of Kavirondo. Kavirondo would go out to the forests to preach for 5-10 days at a time. When he returned, he was never alone. Not only would he tell the stories of converts, but he would have a group of new believers who had joined him in his ministry.
In missions today, we need to remember that the greatest work we do is that of training converts to lead churches and to reach the uttermost. Lowder was a champion in the field of training. He sent out men to reach the parts of Africa that he could not. We need to be adamant about training and discipling men who can keep the local church alive past our lifetime.
HE WAS TIRED FOR OTHER SOULS
It was said that when you received a letter from Lowder reporting the work that God was doing in the bush, the letter would begin like this: “I am too tired to write a proper letter.’’ This was because Lowder and his evangelist were known to preach twice a day and witness to people throughout their trek. If they weren’t preaching, they were trekking through the forest in efforts to find the next preaching grounds. The only rest he received was when they took short moments to lie on the ground.
Winning souls does not only take inspiration but also perspiration. Long hours and hard work are part of the cost. Whether it be hours laboring in a language, treks through villages, or the long process of starting a church, we must remember that labor will be required. The outcome, however, is the salvation of souls.
HE DIDN’T ALLOW CRITICISM TO STOP HIM
Lowder and his native evangelist saw thousands saved and baptized. Some weeks, over a thousand would make professions of faith. Because of these enormous numbers, he was doubted. Many thought that he was either lying or leaving behind many false converts. These accusations were proved to be false when churches were started by these new believers, and families began attending faithfully. Not only this but after being born again, many would burn all of their witchcraft belongings as evidence of new life. They brought forth fruits of repentance when they showed that they had turned from their old ways. Tithing was also something that the new churches of the Congo faithfully practiced.
But even with these signs of true salvation, many still believed that they were false converts. If you do something for God and see people saved, you will be criticized. The best thing you can do in those cases is to simply ignore the accusation, and continue serving the Lord. We have to remember that we are just a tool in the Master’s hand, therefore our success is only Christ’s success.
HE ALWAYS ASKED FOR MORE LABORERS
In his brief report letters, Lowder would never forget to mention the need for laborers. CT Studd sent most of his evangelists to help Lowder. When there was nobody left, he went himself.
This is my plea to you, friend! We need more laborers! For my field, Turkey, with 10 cities of over a million and 13,000 villages, we need more laborers. We need more laborers in Africa, a field ripe unto harvest. India, China, Pakistan: these highly populated nations need more laborers. Will you go? If you can’t go, what will you do to send a substitute? Who are you mobilizing for missions? You must go or you must recruit! DO YOU, LIKE LOWDER, HAVE A PASSION FOR SOULS?
I was reading a short biographical sketch of the father of modern missions, William Carey. Before leaving the Harvey Lane Baptist Church in Leicester, England, he was once at a ministers meeting in 1787 when he decided to raise the question of the responsibility of the church to reach the world with the Gospel. Now, just a little back story, Carey was a particular Baptist minister who was in a Calvinistic group of Baptists who were currently enthralled with a fight over hyper-Calvinism! Hyper-Calvinism was the belief that because of the doctrines of Calvinism, men were not to use means to reach the World because God had already predestined the Salvation of his chosen. To use means was a waste of one’s life and efforts and basically an undermining of God. After Carey rose this question, the renowned Baptist minister and writer of his day, John Ryland Sr., allegedly stood up and proclaimed to Carey, “Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do without your aid or mine!” (Though his son, a later coworker with Carey in the Baptist Missionary Society, claimed it never happened). Sadly today, whether consciously or subconsciously, many Christians, churches, and yes, even preachers and missionaries have started thinking about our God in this way. Either through buying into hyper-Calvinism or subconsciously thinking that God will save those that he will save, and we need not interfere in our lives. I’d like to take a moment to show you the Biblical fallacies in Ryland’s statements to encourage you to see your responsibility in reaching the world with the Gospel and to encourage you to find your place in World Evangelism, whether as goer or sender.
Young man, sit down!
This was the first part of Ryland’s statement and a command towards Carey to sit down on the thoughts of evangelizing the world. Ryland’s thinking was that Carey had no reason to be on the move for the needs of the world. The only problem was that Carey had a command already given in scripture that prohibited him from sitting down because he had been commanded by the scripture to not only get up but rather to GO!
‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. ‘ – Matthew 28:18-20 (This was actually the text of Carey’s farewell sermon to Harvey Lane Baptist Church when headed to India)
When God pleases to convert the heathen…
The second part of his statement was no better or truthful. He rose the fact that in his opinion that the heathen were unreached because God had not chosen to reach them. Though this may be a good, logical, hyper-Calvinistic statement, it isn’t in line with scripture. The Bible tells us that God desires that all would come to repentance; therefore, if he desires for all to come, it pleases God for all to come.
‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ‘ – 2 Peter 3:9
He will do without your aid or mine!
So this one seems very logical and even seems like it is lifting up God, but really it is attacking the way God operates. Though God could very well reach the world without using people, he chooses not to because He gets more glory using broken vessels to achieve his purpose rather than doing it all himself. Also, this is part of his love toward us that He would get us in on His master plan to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ!
‘For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. ‘ – 1 Corinthians 1:21-29
We see through these three simple sets of verses that Ryland’s statements were completely wrong and not from scripture! The sad thing is that many today still believe similar lies and sit idle, thinking their life is not desired by God to be used for the sake of evangelizing the world! Today, do you see that God wants to use you? Though he could do it all Himself, He wants to use you! Are you willing to be used, either as a goer (going to the mission field) or a sender, (facilitating missionaries to go to the field) for the cause of the Gospel of Christ?
The story is told of Adoniram Judson, that though his mother prayed and cried, that though his father lived a faithful life as a congregationalist preacher, Adoniram Judson did not come to Christ until the age of 20. As a matter of fact, he went to Brown University at the age of 17 because of his intellect and once there he met Jacob Eames, a devout deist and skeptic. After spending much time with Eames, Judson decided to become a deist and was going to spend his time as a wanderlust (a seeker of thrill, adventure, and excitement). This all changed when, unbeknownst to Judson, he laid in a room hearing the death woes of another man dying, which God used to bring him to faith. He would find out the next morning that the death woes he heard was of his old friend, Jacob Eames, now in Hell.
Believe it or not, this 210-year-old story holds a lot of truth for the millennial generation. The millennials are often ridiculed and made fun of for their softness and nonconformity to past generations, but honestly, like every generation, this is a group of young men and ladies that we need in order to reach the world with the Gospel. Let’s look at three truths in the conversion and life of Adoniram Judson that could help our millennial generation be better used for the cause of the Gospel.
• Intellect is enemy!
‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. ‘ — 1 Corinthians 8:1
Judson, though raised under the teaching and preaching of the Word of God and around pure Christian living, was encouraged to seek out great knowledge and intellect. This pursuit is what lead to him going to Brown University. Seeking more knowledge lead him to the skepticism of Eames and eventually the emptiness of deism. Our millennial generation is one that loves education and pushes for the acquiring of more and deeper knowledge. The truth is that the smart man lacks faith and faith is required to understand and believe God’s Word. We live in a generation where even the Christians of our day are falling into incorrect doctrine because they cannot be simple and just believe what the Bible says. They must dig into logic and the writings of the church fathers and other theologians, which many times leads to the doctrines of man as opposed to the truths of God! If the millennial generation will be used by God, as hard as it is, they will have to turn from the knowledge of this world to the simple teachings and faith of God’s Word and Christ! Judson’s life never got back on track until he lived by faith and not by worldly knowledge.
• Wanderlust is no way to live!
‘And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. ‘ —Luke 9:23
Judson decided that because God was indifferent to the world (deism) that he would be indifferent to God and His Word (because this book couldn’t be true because of all the supernatural acts taught in it). Therefore, the only thing to live for was a thrill. This lifestyle was the one of a wanderlust, the man who seeks for adventure and thrill in this life. The interesting thing is though he gave up this life to follow God, Judson lived a life of adventure traveling as a missionary and spending time in many places such as India and Burma, surely seeing things that others would only dream of seeing and experiencing. Millienials are actually known as the wanderlust generation. They are a generation that has chosen to live simpler lives than their materialistic parents, in pursuit of adventure, events, and thrill. I am an older millennial, born in 1988, and I can remember that though I grew up on a simple farm in a small town called Mcleansville, NC, I didn’t desire to stay there. I’d sit in a homemade tree stand and read Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I’d read about far away places in the encelopedia and would run around the woods and fields imagining myself all across the USA and the World. I desired to get out of this podunk town and travel the World and didn’t care to have any possessions as I did it. I was a classic wanderlust waiting to happen. But after getting saved and surrendering to ministry around the age of 16, I gave up these dreams not knowing that God would give them back. I keep up with all the places serving God has taken me. I keep pictures of the places and events that God’s allowed me to be a part of and I’m amazed at how giving up my wanderlust for following Christ put me on an adventure all my own. For millennials to serve God they’ll have to give up their sense of worldly adventure that seeks a thrill and sign up for Godly adventure in obedience to Christ. At the end of the day, millennials are MADE for the adventure of missions — they just have to learn the crucified life before God will give it to them.
• Don’t follow your fallen friend!
‘For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ‘ — Romans 10:9-13
Eames fell to death and Hell! Judson was a wise man and came to faith in Christ before this became his fate! Millennials today are watching their friends die in drugs, accidents, and natural causes everyday, and they are watching them die lost without God. For millennials to serve God they must see the fate of their now suffering friends and turn away from the life of sin, self, and religion, and turn wholly to Jesus Christ and Him alone!
The bottom line is this, Mr & Mrs. Millennial. Will you be used of God or live the status quo millennial life, hollow of meaning? Will you leave the glitter of education, shed off the thrill of wanderlust, and learn your need of Christ or will you fall to the life of meaninglessness?
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame,” 1 Corinthians 15:34
Although I grew up in a Christian family and was saved at a young age, it was many years later that I first became exposed to missions. As the Lord began to give me a burden for missions, He started to show me the great need for the gospel that exists around this world. I moved to Alpharetta, Georgia, to begin training for missions at the Our Generation Training Center in connection with Vision Baptist Church and Vision Baptist Missions.
After a few months, I started to pray about where the Lord would have me go on a missions trip. God opened the door and provided the opportunity for me to visit the ministry in Arequipa, Peru. It was during that trip that I knew that the Lord had not only called me into missions, but that He was calling me specifically to the country of Peru. Visiting the ministry in Peru opened my eyes and broke my heart for the great need that still exists among the people there!
I never imagined that I would be serving the Lord in full-time ministry, much less serving Him in another country. But the truth is that we, as Christians, need to awake to righteousness and sin not because there are people all around this world who do not have the knowledge of God. They do not have the truth of the gospel. There is a whole world out there that is lost and headed for hell! The situation is desperate, and we know of the Savior who can give them the free gift of salvation. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And yet there are millions in Peru today who do not know that truth.
How can you look into the faces of men, women, boys, and girls who are striving so hard for their salvation and not desire to tell them the truth of the gospel? God gives us the command through His Word to go into all the world and tell others the truth. He gives us a desire in our hearts, and then He gives us an opportunity to serve Him. Latin America has a great need for the gospel, and there are millions of people who need to hear the truth! That command, that desire, and that need is what led me to Peru and Latin America.
To be honest, in regards to how God led me to Latin America, I didn’t have this lightning bolt hit me, nor did I have this strange feeling that I should go to Bolivia as a missionary. Rather, I saw it as an opportunity to serve the Lord in a needy place. If we take the Bible literally, then we know that there is a world out there that is dying and going to hell. And it is up to us to go into all the world and tell people about Jesus. Of course, there is a need here in the States, but there is a much greater need outside of the United States.
Latin America is definitely one of those needy places. In Bolivia, where God has called me, more missionaries are needed. There are over 11 million people in the country and very few missionaries trying to reach those 11 million people. That is why I must go to Bolivia and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Kevin White is a veteran missionary whom I got to intern with for six months in Bolivia. In the future, working in Bolivia will provide great opportunities for me to learn from his example. I believe Kevin will show me the ropes and help me avoid common rookie mistakes that new missionaries may make.
For some reason, God has always put Latin American people in my life. My best friend in middle school and high school was Hispanic. I feel like God was preparing me even back then to work with people in Latin America. I remember sitting with Hispanics at lunch and playing soccer with them as well. God has always given me a heart for people, and He led me to Latin America. Ultimately, it was God all along directing my path. I never thought I would be a missionary, but God had bigger plans than I could ever imagine.
I got saved at the age of seven, but when I was in high school, all I wanted to do was play sports. During my senior year, I remember asking myself, “What am I going to do with my life?” This is when I began to question God’s will for my life and wondered what the next step was. I later decided to go to Reinhardt University, although I went with all the wrong motives. I went to play football. While playing in a football game one day, I got injured. I tore the labrum in my shoulder, and that meant that I had to have surgery. The surgery took place during my college Christmas break, and while recovering, I was back at my parents’ house attending my home church.
During a service, I met a missionary by the name of Brendon Wung. He was there presenting his ministry, and after the service, he spoke to my brother and me about the Our Generation Camp. At the time, I thought it would be just like any other camp, but little did I know that it would change my life forever.
After recovering from surgery and returning for my second semester of college, I continued to seek God’s will for my life. I attended a great Baptist church that encouraged me to live my life for God, and it was during this second semester that I finally decided to do something for God. I decided to live my life for Him and not just for myself. This led to my withdrawing from Reinhardt University, as I was still considering God’s will for my life. I then began the process of joining the National Guard because I thought this was what God wanted me to do.
Around that time, the Our Generation Camp took place. This is a camp hosted by Vision Baptist Church and Vision Baptist Missions that is all about missions and the need for the gospel around the world. While at the camp, I realized that it was not God’s plan for me to join the military, but my plan alone. I had been blinded by what I wanted to do long enough and finally saw that God had been calling me to serve Him as a missionary.
I went to get training for missions at the Our Generation Training Center for three years, and afterwards spent six months in Bolivia as a missionary intern with veteran missionary Kevin White. During my internship, God burdened my heart for the lost people of Bolivia, and I am now on my way back as a church-planting missionary!
My desire for missions began long before I even had a thought of being a missionary. A few years after high school, the Lord started moving my heart towards missions while I played soccer with a group of Mexicans. Since I couldn’t communicate with them, all I could think about was being able to speak their language and inviting them to church. Fast forward several years, and while I was in Bible College, I had the opportunity to go to Peru for my mission’s internship. This trip would mark the first time I had left the country to visit the mission field, and it changed my life completely. While in Peru, the Lord broke my heart when I saw just how many people did not have the gospel. During that time, I began to hear about the need in La Paz, Bolivia from several groups that had visited the capital. At that time, the groups only knew of one Bible-preaching church in the entire city.
As my graduation from Bible college was fast approaching, my wife, Beth, and I began to pray about being missionaries to Bolivia. As soon as I graduated, we took a survey trip to Peru and traveled from there to Bolivia to confirm the Lord’s will for our lives. While in the city of La Paz, we drove around, asking if anyone knew of a church there. One of the sights that convicted me most was the presence of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other religious groups in almost every neighborhood. I kept thinking, “Where are those that are preaching the true gospel?” Before we left to return to the States, I made up my mind that if no one else would go and preach to these people that had no gospel, I would go.
If you have ever thought of being a missionary or if you are seeking God’s will for your life, here are a few things that you can do:
1. Pray that the Lord would open your eyes. Pray that He would give you a burden for the lost and have eyes of compassion like He had when He saw the multitudes.
2. Learn about the world
Begin to learn about other countries and their need for the gospel.
You can do that by reading missionary prayer letters and looking up countries and statistics on the internet or Operation World.
3. Visit the Mission Field
Most people that are in missions now can point back to a mission’s trip where they saw the need first hand that changed them and pushed them towards being a missionary.
4. Serve Where you Are
Don’t wait to go to another country to become a missionary. Start right where you are.
Begin to share the gospel, disciple people, and serve in your church.
If you are doing those things now, and one day you go to another country, you will continue doing what you have always done, only in a different location.