For the Sake of the Call

 

D.L. Moody – 5th grade education, manuscripts full of spelling and grammar errors. He failed the test to become a member of the church when he was 18. Never went to college, seminary or was even ordained.  His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common poor people; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.

Charles Spurgeon – Attended local schools for a few years but never earned a university degree. Started preaching as a teenager.  Preached to tens of thousands, started an orphanage and a Christian college. Strongly opposed the owning of slaves and held to a strong biblical innerency. Because of that he lost support from the Southern Baptists, sales of his sermons dropped to a few, and he received scores of threatening and insulting letters as a consequence. He enjoyed cigars. His wife was often too sick and weak to leave the house to hear him preach.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL. 

Billy Graham “World Renown Evangelist”- Took 6 years and 3 schools to complete his undergrad in anthropology and was told by Bob Jones, Sr. if he left BJU after one semester that….. “ At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere in the sticks… You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily” He didn’t listen and left anyway. He once said… “When God gets ready to shake America, he may not take the Ph.D and the D.D. God may choose a country boy… and I pray that he would!”

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL. 

William Carey “Father of Missions” –  very little education but self taught greek and Hebrew. Took his family to India where the hardships (unemployment, preaching illegally, sickness, death, depression, loneliness)  cost him the life of his child and the sanity of his wife.  Took 7 years to see the first person become a believer.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL. 

David Livingstone “Africa’s greatest Missionary”-  Has background in botanical and medical studies. Known for standing against slavery. Was often accused of being too fiery and had an explosive Irish temper. As far as Christian education, he self taught himself greek and Hebrew, but one christian professor described him as “worthy but remote from brilliant”  and he would have been rejected by the London Mission Society had the director not given him a second chance to pass the course.  Created roads and maps in rural Africa that led ways for the gospel to go to places where it couldn’t before.  He lost his wife and ultimately his own life due to the conditions of their missionary journeys.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL. 

Hudson Taylor “Missionary to China” – Medical education background. Self taught Theology. He was passionate about God providing the means for missions work not relying upon solicited support.  Lost his wife and children to serious illnesses. His medical supplies were destroyed by fire and was robbed of nearly everything he owned.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.

George Whitfield “a founder of Methodism” – Was poor and had to work as a servant to wealthier students in order to receive an education. Got a BA. Stayed true to theological convictions and evangelism even when it meant less power and position. Early in his career, Whitefield criticized the Church of England. In response, clergy called Whitefield one of “the young quacks in divinity” who are “breaking the peace and unity” of the church. The Church of England would not assign him a pulpit, so he began preaching in parks and fields in England on his own, reaching out to people who normally did not attend church.  he preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million listeners in Great Britain and the American colonies. Kept close friendships with those of vastly differing theologies.

Kept preaching despite failing health until he died.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL 

Charles Finney “Father of modern revivalism” –  Never attended College, was interning to be a lawyer but then stopped when he felt led to preach the gospel. Didn’t find a true theological home in any mainstream denomination due to issues with each. Preached to thousands using methods (praying in the common people’s language, using an alter call, that were decades old but not popular in the church at that time and was rebuked for doing so. Championed the Abolishment of Slavery and Women’s rights.

Amy Carmichael – uneducated, poor, single, started a Sunday school group. Wanted to pursue missions but was rejected due to a chronic health issue that kept her in bed for weeks on end… ended up going to India with another missions group that would allow her to.  Was a mother to many many orphans. Wrote several books.  Once said…. “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire that He creates.”

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.

George Müller – “Evangelist and Missionary”  Was rejected by the London Missionary Society due to his health and  inability to keep up with their requirements. Renounced his regular salary, believing that the practice could lead to church members giving out of duty, not desire. He also eliminated the renting of church pews, arguing that it gave unfair prestige to the rich. cared for over 10 thousand orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. He never made requests for financial support but was grateful when they were given, nor did he go into debt and often food and supplies were provided at the last possible moment. He did this all while preaching three times a week! At the age of 70 he began a  200,00 mile (a big deal in pre-Aviation times) 17 year missionary travel trip with his new second wife, after the loss of his first wife… all through the unsolicited gifts of supporters.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL. 

In all of these stories… the common threads that jump out to me are:

  • Formal theological education (seminary or bible degree) wasn’t required to fulfill the calling God had on their life.
  • Came from humble beginnings in challenging times.
  • Often God used a non-theological interest or skill to further the Gospel in unreached places.
  • They were often rejected by the majority church’s or christian organization’s way of going about doing things in ministry.
  • In hindsight everyone of them could be said to have had certain areas where they were probably wrong or misguided in.
  • Stong likeminded Friendships with others in ministry were catalytic in beginning movements and organizations.
  • They had a undying commitment to the poor and marginalized.
  • They often started schools and provided  the basic needs for marginalized Children. (Kids who couldn’t offer them anything back in return)
  • Spoke up about controversial public issues.
  • They often lacked for money, a place to live, good health, and safety, yet that wasn’t a permanent deterrent to following His calling on their life.
  • wouldn’t probably have the qualifications to hold positions in many churches or educational institutions today.

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