Luther Rice: A heart for the Heathen
I must confess that in my mind I have fallen trap to the thought that if one truly loves the heathen then he must be on the foreign field. Or to put it in layman’s term, “You can’t have a heart for world evangelism if you aren’t a missionary.”
What a foolish thought! In the life of Luther Rice that statement could not be further from the truth. I doubt many people can say that they have “sacrificed” like Luther Rice did during his life to get the Gospel to the heathen. Luther Rice did have a heart for world evangelism and he wasn’t a foreign missionary. His life demonstrated his heart.
Luther Rice died a single man. Before his attempt to get to the mission field Luther Rice had to break off an engagement because his fiancé wasn’t willing to go to the mission field. WOW!! If we only had men like that–men who would love Jesus and who would be discerning about who they would marry.
Luther Rice realized that his talents were more useful in raising help from Baptist churches in America and in creating fellowships that would later lead to the Southern Baptist Convention as we know it. If there were men and women who would be more enamored about the salvation of souls and where they could plug in their talents and gifts rather than just the thrill of living in another country more could be done to spread the Gospel around the world!
During Mr Rice’s life he received a salary for his work of showing churches the need to take the Gospel to the world and to send missionaries to the foreign field. But some men on Rice’s board decided to cut his salary and not pay him anymore. Luther Rice didn’t take that as a sign from God as a closed door; instead he continued to do what he was called to do. Someone had to get the funds to the missionaries and someone had to inform others what the world is like and show their needs. We need men like that–men who have a calling and not a profession, men who would be willing to go without to see the Great Commission accomplished.
I would like to finish by saying all of this started after Luther Rice got saved. You see one can’t have a heart for world evangelism and not have a heart to see your lost neighbor or family hear the gospel. You see when Luther got saved it is recorded that he was ACTIVE in getting the Gospel out to his family, friends and neighbors. What a challenge! You too can have a heart for the heathen but I need to remind you that it starts right where you are. Who are you giving the gospel to this week?
For two years Luther Rice struggled with the burden of his lost state. It was so bad that it impaired his health and his jovial spirit. He fell into a deep depression, and it was finally when he humbled himself and submitted to God that he realized it wasn’t about what Scripture he memorized or how much good he did. He realized it was Christ’s work that saved a man. After his conversion Luther decided not to go about the “nominal” Christian life that so many people at the time were living but rather yield his members unto the service of God.
Rice was a man of action, so he was an active soul-winner, started a bible study, and tried to get others in his church involved in the same activities. It seems that whatever Luther found himself doing he did it with all that was in him, and the same was true with his gospel witness. It was said that his activities were an embarrassment to his pastor and church for neither shared the same burden. Could you imagine being a new Christian wanting to serve God and bring others to him and your own church family doesn’t encourage you; instead they actually possibly discourage you from your work? It didn’t just stop with his church; Luther’s own family didn’t want him to be involved in such a radical lifestyle. However, the discouragement didn’t stop Luther Rice from trying to get the Gospel out. He kept a good attitude and a sweet spirit and heart to tell others of the wonderful grace he found in Jesus Christ. Luther Rice actually start two Bible studies/prayer meetings in his neighborhood, and one of the meeting places was in the house a Baptist.
One of the many things that I love about the story of Luther Rice is that he just did something, and it didn’t matter how much opposition was in his life. Luther Rice was going to tell others about Jesus, and neither his family nor his church was going to get in his way. He was a witness for Christ and nothing was going to stop or rob him of his joy. I wonder if this is true for my life? How many times have I refrained from giving the Gospel. What obstacles have been in my way to keep me from sharing the good news about Jesus? Do I hand out tracts on a regular basis? What if my family discouraged me from and ridiculed me for telling others about Jesus? Would I stop?I don’t know how I would answer many of those questions because I go to a great church and have a family that encourages me to witness. You are probably in the same boat as me, so the real question is are you active in getting the gospel out? Do people know you as a Gospel Proclaimer?
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: But the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
One of my heroes was a man that truly had a heart for the WORLD–a man that at the end of life wasn’t heralded as a great man of God but was basically considered in all accounts a failure. However, the Lord took that perceived failure and did something remarkable. Luther Rice, now known for being an instrument in starting the Southern Baptist Convention, was a man who served a GREAT GOD. My point of this blog series is not to make much of a man but to show you how God took someone and did great and mighty things through him. I hope to point out some of his godly traits and show you how a man of God lives his life.
The first trait that I would like to point out in the life of Luther Rice is his initiative. Early on in Luther Rice’s life you can see that he was a man of initiative. At the age of sixteen Luther left his home in the Northeast heading to Georgia to buy timber and bring it back to build ships. It appears that asking his parents was not the route that he took. He wanted to make money so he did. He took the initiative. There was no prodding and forcing him to get to work. He was a man of action. This trait only seemed to intensify once he was born-again. Luther Rice took initiative. He saw a need and then spent his life working to meet that need. After returning to America from seeing India, he went out on a horse travelling and preaching to raise awareness and funds for the foreign field and education.
All throughout the Bible you see God’s men making decisions and taking the initiative. Doing so is an aspect of faith. You can see this trait with Noah building the ark, Abraham leaving his homeland and offering up his son, in Moses, Rahab and many more. Many believed and were moved to action themselves as a result. Maybe you are reading this article and you are looking for a place to learn how to be in the ministry. You have the desire but maybe you need show initiative and take the next step. Maybe you are already a student here in the Training Center and so desperately want God to work in your life, so get off the couch and DO SOMETHING. Charles Spurgeon said that a call to preach is a call to prepare. Did you get that? YOU have to take the initiative and get to work. Desire is not enough if we are going to reach this world with gospel; we need men and women who are going to take initiative. We need men and women who don’t need a boss. We need people who have seen the problem and are taking steps to be part of the solution.
Lord please give us, the Our Generation Training Center, men and women who will take initiative–not just students who have a desire, but real MEN and WOMEN who will take the initiative and step out to fulfill this impossible task we call world evangelism. Thank You Father for an example like Luther Rice who gave his life for this cause, but Lord thank you more for your Son, Jesus who gave His all and is our example and enabler to be men and women who take the initiative in His work. Amen.
The Life of William BordenWritten by the Traveling Team. Original Article: http://www.thetravelingteam.org/node/400
The life of William Borden is not your typical missionary hero story. The beginning of his life was unique not only to many missionaries, but to most people in general. He was born the heir of a million dollar family fortune in the late 1800s, a dairy company worth $2 billion today! He earned his undergraduate degree from Yale and a graduate degree from Princeton seminary. Against all worldly logic, William left his millions and followed the call of God to an unreached Muslim people group. The situation of William’s inheritance was exceptional, but equally remarkable were the circumstances surrounding his death.
William was born in 1887 to a mother who nurtured her son into a faith in Jesus. He gave his life to Christ at a young age, and upon graduating from high school, his parents rewarded him with a tour around the world. As he ventured across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, God began to burden his heart for the masses of hurting people. Many of them had never heard the gospel of Christ. William’s own passion to follow Christ was growing. He sat under the preaching of Dr. R.A. Torrey, a well known evangelist of the day, and felt the Holy Spirit calling him to commit himself fully to Christ.
William’s father was adamant that his son attend a university, so he obeyed his father’s wishes and enrolled at Yale University. His freshman year, he found his passion for Christ was largely unshared by his peers. So William began meeting with a friend in the mornings to read the Bible and pray together, and soon another student joined them, then another. The number of students showing up for the morning prayer meetings began to multiply, and over the course of a few years what began as a small group became a campus wide movement. Some report that by the end of William’s first year at Yale, 150 students gathered in groups for prayer meetings, and by his senior year, the movement grew to 1,000 students!
Also during his college years, William founded the Yale Hope Mission seeking to rehabilitate drunkards and others in need near the dock at New Haven. With his family fortune, he funded the buildings and other needs of the mission, but his investment was not merely financial. He was often found near the docks, feeding a poor person and sharing the good news of Jesus with them. Over time, the mission at New Haven changed hundreds of lives.
The Student Volunteer Movement conference in Nashville, Tennessee was another significant point in William’s college career. His missionary convictions narrowed on the Muslim people groups in western China as Dr. Samuel Zwemer spoke about his work among them. The Spirit of God stirred and burdened William’s heart concerning these specific unreached Chinese so much that he decided to pursue a master’s degree from Princeton Seminary and then sail for China to join Dr. Zwemer.
William’s father passed away during his years at Yale, leaving him the family fortune. Upon graduation he had several prestigious job offers, but his mind was still set on China. William followed through with his plan to sail overseas in obedience to God’s call on his life. Before going to China, he first spent time in Egypt learning the Arabic language in preparation for his ministry to Muslims. It was there that he caught spinal meningitis. William died one month later and was buried in Cairo. He was twenty five years old.
William Borden is heralded as a great hero of our faith, with a fiery missionary zeal and a heart for the Muslim world, yet he never made it to the mission field. Some call it a waste of such a young life, but he expanded the kingdom of God in his short time. Hundreds of students at Yale found new faith in God by his example, and downcast drunks found hope through his mission in New Haven. Even to this day those who hear his story are encouraged and challenged to lose their life in light of the promise of finding it in Christ. Though William Borden was born into a great worldly inheritance, he lived and died for the promise of an imperishable and eternal inheritance. After his death, three phrases were found written inside his Bible: “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”