The Glory of the Impossible

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The Pioneer Spirit

These forelopers of God went not with hatchet and brand, but with the Sword of the Spirit and with the Belt of Truth. They went and blazed the way for those that followed after. Their scars were the seal of their apostleship, and they gloried also in tribulation. Like the pioneer Apostle, "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and approving themselves as ministers of God in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in watching, in fasting."

Thomas Valpy French, Bishop of Lahore, whom Dr. Eugene Stock called "the most distinguished of all Church Missionary Society missionaries," had the real pioneer spirit and knew the glory of the impossible. After forty years of labors abundant and fruitful in India, he resigned his bishopric and planned to reach the interior of Arabia with the Gospel. He was an intellectual and spiritual giant. "To live with him was to drink in an atmosphere that was spiritually bracing. As the air of the Engadine (a favorite tourist ground in Switzerland) is to the body, so was his intimacy to the soul. It was an education to be with him. There was nothing that he thought a man should not yield - home or wife or health if God's call was apparent. But then every one knew that he only asked of them what he himself had done and was always doing." And when Mackay, of Uganda, in his remarkable plea for a mission to the Arabs of Oman called for "half a dozen young men, the pick of the English universities, to make the venture in faith," this lion-hearted veteran of sixty-six years responded alone. It was the glory of the impossible. Yet from Muscat he wrote shortly before his death:

"If I can get no faithful servant and guide for the journey into the interior, well versed in dealing with Arabs and getting needful common supplies (I want but little), I may try Bahrein, or Hodeidah and Sana, and if that fails, the north of Africa again, in some highland; for without a house of our own the climate would be insufferable for me - at least during the very hot months - and one's work would be at a standstill. But I shall not give up, please God, even temporarily, my plans for the interior, unless, all avenues being closed, it would be sheer madness to attempt to carry them out."

"I shall not give up" - and he did not till he died. Nor will the Church of Christ give up the work for which he and others like him laid down their lives in Oman. It goes on.