"For to me to live is Christ,
and to die is gain."
Life is Christ. Death is gain.
Working for OMF International has allowed me an inside glimpse into the life and legacy of countless missionaries. Since Hudson Taylor founded China Inland Mission (which is now Overseas Missionary Fellowship- OMF) there have been many who have joined his vision to spread the gospel in Asia.
Some of these faithful men and women are now very old and "retired" from active missions for health reasons. They reside at an OMF assisted living center in Pennsylvania called Lammermuir. The average age is about 87.
Last week the woman who oversees the care of these missionaries came to our headquarters in Colorado to share the happenings at Lammermuir. She shared many stories about what it is like to live and care for so many elderly people, what she does and how tired she becomes. She rejoiced, though, over the reality that she has the opportunity to serve God's servants in their last days on earth.
These missionaries, in their youth, journeyed thousands of miles away from "home," when traveling was not as easy as it is now, to distant lands. They were instumental in starting churches, translating Scripture and praying for the nations to know Christ.
Now they are weak and frail physically. Mentally, many are still as sharp as they were 50 years ago. They spend countless hours praying for current OMF missionaries in East Asia. They told Jolene to tell us that they pray for us (OMF staff). They pray that we would have health, energy, courage, strength and wisdom. They pray that we will serve Christ with all that we have until our last breath.
And they wonder. They wonder in their old age if they did enough for Christ.
I cried through her whole account of these faithful men and women. Here they are, amazing missionaries from the 1940's who risked life, health and security, wondering if they did all they could.
Can you hear their plea, "DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE!"
This is the climax of ministry- when life and death are combined. It is not just about death from old age, but death to self and a willingness to die physically for the sake of Christ. To LIVE is Christ and to DIE is GAIN!
Is this Christian life supposed to be seeking the American Dream? Has Christ called us to be "good" people, raise a nice family that goes to church, own a pretty house, make a average salary, retire at 65 and move to Florida where it is warm?
THAT is a tragedy.
Christ did not die so that we can live happy and comfortable.
"Whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake
and the gospel's will save it." Mark 8:35
I would rather lose my life for the sake of Christ than waste it.