Posts Tagged ‘missionary’

“Journey Into the Unknown” Hanneke van Dam
Hanneke van Dam (with others) for narration.
Eric Velu is the director
This video was released on April 19, 2007 and is 52 minutes long.
Available at Amazon or Vision Video.


Not very many people would be willing to give up everything in their lives – a good living, home, family, modern comforts, and freedom to choose where you will go and what will you do – in order to serve others.

The video I would like to recommend this week is a documentation of the life of one woman who left her comfortable life behind to serve Jesus by caring for some of the neediest people on earth.

Hanneke van Dam answered God’s call on her life to go to Mongolia, one of the coldest and most desolate places in the world. 80 to 90 percent of the problems there are caused by alcohol. This results in poverty, broken families and violent behavior.

In 1995 Hanneke was working as a child psychologist at the courthouse in Amsterdam when she attended a conference where Jackie Pullinger was speaking. (see my post on this blog April, 2015, for more information on Jackie Pullinger, a Christian missionary in Hong Kong who has helped thousands of drug addicts to recover.) Hanneke was moved to do something for people who were living in poverty.

The morning after hearing Jackie speak Hanneke was cleaning her mother’s house. Hanneke was praying that God would direct her life. She wanted to help others as Jackie was doing. Hanneke describes in the interview in this video that she heard the voice of God clearly say “Mongolia”. Hanneke did not even know where Mongolia was on the map when God called her to go there.

Hanneke had been working in the capital city of Ulan Bator for 5 years before this documentary was made. In the video, viewers will see a typical rescue of a drunk on the street. With the temperature of 30 degrees below zero, the man would have died within a few hours if left alone there. Hanneke sees the people as broken human beings whose lives can be mended with the good news of the Gospel. She worked tirelessly and unselfishly to help those who seemed without hope. Seeing how devoted she was to people, the mission asked Hanneke to go to remote areas and she accepted the direction as a call from God.

Work in the villages was difficult. Some of the really great joys were telling the Gospel to people who had never heard of Jesus. Seeing the light in their eyes motivated Hanneke to continue to live in a remote place. On the other hand, there were many problems for the new believers. There was more work than one woman could do. Hanneke trained some young female believers to help her.

Just as Hanneke was motivated by Jackie Pullinger to go and take the Gospel of healing to a poor nation, my prayer is that Hanneke’s story will move Christians to go and serve Christ in Mongolia or any other country where the needs are great.




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How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7).

Isobel_KuhnIsobel “Belle” Miller seemed an unlikely candidate for the mission field as a child. Born in 1901 in Toronto Canada she was a young woman during the Roaring Twenties. While attending the University of British Columbia she was a popular honor student. She was also receiving accolades as a talented drama and dance student.

She was born into a Christian family and lived in a comfortable home. Before God would get a hold of her heart she would become agnostic for a time. As is not unusual in public universities a professor had criticized Isobel’s belief in the Biblical creation account. He challenged the students to “think for themselves” and not believe something just because their parents said it to them.

Isobel thought about what the professor had said and decided he was right. She stopped going to church and reading her Bible. She began to do things that she normally would not have.

She met and fell in love with another student who eventually two-timed her. She was brokenhearted and became depressed for a while. She even thought of taking her own life by poisoning herself. Just as she was going to the bathroom to get the bottle of poison she heard her Dad moaning in his sleep. Though she did not believe in hell, she knew that her father would probably think she had gone there if she took her own life.

Though Isobel longed to die, she could not disappoint her father. Isobel went back to her room and prayed, “God, if there is a God, if you will prove to me that you exist, and if you will give me peace, I will give you my whole life. I’ll do anything you ask me to do, go where you send me, obey you all my days.” When Isobel fell asleep, feeling at peace for the first time in a long time, she wondered if God had answered her prayer and began to search for Him by reading the Gospels.

Isobel began to attend Bible conferences with her mother. One summer Mr. J. O. Fraser of the China Inland Mission was one of the speakers. He spoke about how God had led him to China to tell the people about Jesus, to help them to get free of the demons they worshipped, to teach them how to read and how to live more fruitful lives. Ref. Fraser appealed to his listeners to consider going to China.

Isobel’s heart was completely won over for the Lisu people. She began to prepare for the mission field by attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. It was here that she met her future husband, John Kuhn. They say that “opposites attract” and that was certainly true of Isobel and John. Isobel was very passionate and John was very cool, calm, and collected. What they shared was an intense desire to take the Gospel to China.

John went ahead to China in 1926. Isobel followed two years later and married John when she got to China. They settled in Chengchiang for the first two years of their marriage. All during their beginning years in China Isobel would long to see her dream fulfilled of going to the Lisu people. She would serve in other places in China for 6 years before finally arriving in Lisuland.

Belle had been used to a comfortable life and had quite an adjustment period not only as a newlywed but in getting used to the customs of China. The food, housing, and sleeping arrangements were all very different from America. One of the hardest things for her was in giving up her privacy.

From Chengchiang the Kuhn’s moved to Tali, Yunnan (1930- 1932), then to Yongping, Isobel Kuhn with LisuYunnan (1932- 1934) under the mentorship of J. O. Fraser. Rev. Finally in 1934, the Kuhns arrived in Lisuland.

During their service in China, Isobel and John had two children, Kathryn and Danny. Much of the time that they were in Lisuland, Kathryn was away at a mission boarding school. Isobel missed her and when the Communist rebels controlled the roads making travel dangerous the parents and their child were unable to see other.

The Lisu Christians were great evangelists. They spent so much time telling others about Christ that John and Isobel were concerned that they did not take time to learn more about the Bible. They were happy for the enthusiasm of the new converts, but they did not want them to be ignorant of the Scriptures.

So John and Isobel came up with a plan. They would hold Rainy Season Bible School. After all, during the rainy season life practically came to a standstill in Lisuland. Why not take this opportunity to train the Lisu Christians and then send them out to the surrounding villages? The Lisu were so missions minded that they even went to villages that they used to war against to share the Gospel.

God blessed their efforts and sixteen years after the Kuhns began working with the Lisu, 3,400 of the 18,000 Lisu were Christians and seven other tribes had been evangelized by Lisu missionaries. Today, there are over 200,000 Lisu Christians.

These were exciting times for missionaries in China, but then in the late 1940’s the communists began to take over the country. The Kuhns were spared any trouble until 1950 when the rebels conquered Lisuland. John and Isobel were forced to flee, Isobel leaving immediately and John following a year later.

Isobel’s heart was aching to be with the Lisu people. Many of them fled to Thailand. Now Belle had to make a decision about whether to retire or to serve her beloved Lisu in Thailand. She turned to God, “Lord, I’m tired! I’m 50. In the past 20 years I’ve seen wars, I’ve been separate for months and even years from my husband and children, I’ve been sick to the point of death. Going to Thailand would mean learning a new language and a new place and a new culture. I want to sit in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere and rest!”

But Isobel had promised God she would give Him her whole life many years ago when He met her in her darkest hour. She would not give up now. And anyway it would give her a chance to be with her beloved Lisu. She would work among them until she developed cancer and died in 1957.

Truly Isobel was one who looked to the love of her Savior Jesus Christ whose love constrained her to live no more for herself but to live for Him who died for her.

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And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29)

Truly Narcissa Prentiss Whitman was a woman who sacrificed much for Christ. Since Narcissa Whitmangirlhood Narcissa dreamed of going on the mission field and spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who were lost in darkness. She was willing to sacrifice the comforts of a middle class life in New York in order to show others the way to peace and happiness. She would ultimately pay with her own life.

Narcissa Prentiss (1808 – 1847) was born in Prattsburg, Steuben County, New York. She was the third child of nine born to Stephen and Clarissa Prentiss. She was the eldest daughter and helped her mother raise her younger siblings.

At a revival in 1819, Narcissa, at the age of 11, had a conversion experience and was received as a member of the Prattsburg Congregational Church. After her conversion, Narcissa dreamed of becoming a missionary. At age fifteen she pledged herself to missionary work.

How she was to become a missionary was not clear to her. She decided to do voluntary work at her church in the meantime in order to get prepared. She trusted God to find a way to send her on the missionary field when she was ready.

In the 1820’s there were many women’s benevolent societies. These voluntary associations were seen as a way for women to be involved in evangelism and charitable works. The one that Narcissa became involved with was the Female Mite Society. She visited families that were less fortunate than she was and helped to provide them with their spiritual and material needs.

Besides doing benevolent work, Narcissa was getting prepared to teach on the mission field by attending Prattsburg’s Franklin Academy. After this she attended a female seminary or ‘normal’ school in Troy, New York.

Narcissa received a proposal from an ardent missionary-bound student at Franklin Academy – Henry Spalding. In the early nineteenth century, missionary boards preferred to send out married couples and Henry sensed Narcissa’s desire to be a missionary was as strong as his. He asked Narcissa to marry him and accompany him on the field, but she turned him down. Henry Spalding later married Eliza Hart and the two of them eventually accompanied Narcissa and her husband Marcus Whitman to the Oregon Country.

In the 1830’s Narcissa’s family moved to Amity, New York. Here she heard the famed Reverend Samuel Parker speak of the need for missionaries. She was very willing to go and asked Rev. Parker if the mission would take single women. In 1834, he helped her to apply to the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM). At that time, ABCFM was reluctant to send out single women, especially to the Western frontier. It was too dangerous. It was felt that the pagan culture would not be protective of unaccompanied females.

On the other hand though, the Board saw a real need for married women on the field. Wives would be a good example to the natives of Christian family life. They could also teach the natives to read and write. They would provide much help and stability to their husbands’ ministries. So, men and women sought marriage before going into missionary work.

About two months later, Marcus Whitman came into Narcissa’s life. He was a doctor who felt called to serve as a medical missionary and he proposed to Narcissa. Marcus encouraged Narcissa to apply formally as a missionary for herself. She did and received her appointment in March 1835. Eleven months later the couple was married.

Then began their journey west. Narcissa would never see her family again. Along the way to the Oregon Country Narcissa got pregnant. Her only natural child, Alice Clarissa Whitman was born March 14, 1837. wa_whitmanMarcus and Narcissa settled in Waiilaptu in the Oregon Country. Her life there was very lonely, but busy.

Sadly, only a little over two years later Alice’s life would be tragically cut short. She drowned accidently in the Walla Walla River on June 23, 1839. Narcissa was devasted and became depressed.

While mourning for her daughter, Narcissa spent many hours in her room writing letters to family back home. She encouraged several of her siblings to come West. She missed her family dearly, but never wavered from her resolve to work among the Indians.

narcissaNarcissa would write many letters to her family over the eleven years of her service. From these prolific writings we know a lot about the missionary work in the Oregon Country. Narcissa not only revealed the dry details of daily life, but she poured out her heart to her family telling of her dreams and her feelings.

Narcissa came out of her depression when God blessed her with a large adopted family. The Sager family was traveling to the West and the parents died along the way leaving seven children orphaned. Narcissa and Marcus gladly took them in. The Whitman’s had also adopted several half-Indian orphans and now had a full and cheery home.

The Sager children enjoyed the blessing of these parents for about three years and then were tragically orphaned again. Marcus and Narcissa were attacked in their home and killed by the Cayuse Indians. What was the cause? Several Indians had traveled to California where they contracted measles. When they came back to Oregon Country the measles spread among a population that was not immune. Unfortunately while at least thirty Indians succumbed to the measles, only one white boy died. The Indians blamed Doctor Marcus saying he spread evil medicine.

On November 29, 1847, two Cayuse attacked Marcus with tomahawks in his kitchen. He stumbled to their sitting room where Narcissa tried to stop the bleeding but there was nothing she could do. She heard more commotion outside and went to the door. She was shot and later died of her wounds. Her last thoughts were of the children and her mother back home. While the Whitman’s lay dying the Indians destroyed their home, killed several other settlers, and herded more than forty residents of the mission into a house where they were held captive for nearly a month. Many were sick; several children would die of the measles. The dead were unburied; some women were raped.

Not all of the Cayuse were in favor of the massacre. The murderers were brought to justice. They received a fair trial and the leaders were put to death.

The Sager children would remember Narcissa as a loving but firm mother. They remembered her love of nature, her sense of humor, and her beautiful singing voice.

Narcissa is also remembered as one of the first of two white women to cross the covered wagon traincontinent overland. She had the first child born to American parents in the Oregon Country. Her journey proved that it was possible for women to go West. The great wagon trains would start in the next decade. Several generations of women would be inspired by her courage as they read her published letters.

We don’t know if Narcissa ever dreamed that she would be a martyr as she dreamed about missionary work as a child. She often said that she knew it would be a sacrifice. She lost her house and left brothers and sisters and father and mother, and lost her only child for Jesus’ name’s sake. And God did bless her with many times as much when He gave her the Sager orphans and a number of Indian orphans. Eventually she paid the ultimate price when she lost her own life.

Narcissa’s memory is preserved at Walla Walla, near the place of her last home. She is also remembered at her childhood home in Prattsburg, New York.

Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones. Psalm 116:15

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Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (Romans 8:35,37).

Charlotte Digges, “Lottie”, Moon spent most of her life sacrificing all that she had for her love for the Chinese people. Truly she was one of the most Christ-like women who ever lived. Like Jesus her life reflected love, compassion, unselfishness, humility, kindness, service, and peacefulness.

After spending the last six weeks discussing the politics of our day I thought it was time for a good story of the life of a woman who showed us the way to live in accordance with our beliefs no matter how hard the times in which we live. After this election, we see that we have one of the most evil administrations in history. How can we face this? What shall we do? There is much that I have already tried to encourage women to do in the Pro-life movement especially, but overall on this blog-site I have also encouraged women to follow their calling from God. Throughout history, God is glorified when His saints just follow Him. Lottie Moon is an exemplary person for us to follow.

There is so much to tell about this remarkable woman that it is impossible to put in a short posting. I would like to recommend the book by Catherine B. Allen, “The New Lottie Moon Story”. The book was originally published in 1980 (same title) but updated with new information about China in the 1997 edition. It is very inspiring both for our personal lives and for an emphasis on missions. After all, our main job that Jesus gave us is to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Lottie answered the call to do this personally.

Lottie Moon was born in Virginia on December 12, 1840. She was named Charlotte Digges Moon after her grandmother, but everyone called her “Lottie.” She was very petite, less than five feet tall. This would turn out to be one of the ways that God used her in China. The children loved her there, perhaps because she seemed to fit in with them.

Lottie received her education as a teacher at Hollins College and Albemarle Female Institute and accepted an appointment as a Baptist missionary to China in 1873. .

There had been a brief romance in Lottie’s life. She could have married and lived in the United States. But the young man had changed his theology in a way that Lottie did not approve of. Anyway she said, “God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the result.” The most important thing for Lottie was that the Chinese people should know Jesus.

Lottie spent most of the next thirty-nine years in Tengchow and P’ingtu, China. She wore Chinese clothes and lived like the Chinese people. The Chinese people respected Lottie. Her selfless giving won many Chinese to Christ. She often had poor, suffering or sick women living with her in her own small house.

Lottie loved the Chinese people. She constantly made personal sacrifices to help the Chinese, giving them her own money for their needs. Though she went home to Virginia on several furloughs, as time went on she came to consider China her home.

There were over eighty villages within walking distance from Lottie’s home and she made it a point to visit every one of them every fall. This really should put to shame our modern ministers who complain about writing one sermon a week while sitting in their comfortable homes with their new cars in the driveway.

As was the custom in China, Lottie worked with the women and children. In that culture, men were separate from the women. Having grown up a Southern lady with respect for men as the leaders it was easy for her to fit in with this part of Chinese culture. She would bake cookies for the children who would then invite her to their homes. Lottie would be able to share the Gospel with their mothers. She also started Bible studies. Whenever Lottie visited one of the villages there would always be a crowd gathered waiting to hear her tell stories. When Lottie visited in the villages, the men would stand off to one side, within hearing, and pretend to be busy but they would be soaking up every word.

It is interesting to note that there were sometimes no male missionaries available to teach the men. The Chinese male converts were starved for teaching. Since women were not allowed to teach men, one way that this could be accommodated was that a curtain would be put up in the room where Lottie was teaching the women and girls. The men would sit on the other side and listen in.

It was also not unusual for men to come to the outside of her home and listen through a hole in the paper window. Gradually throughout her lifetime, Lottie would teach more and more groups including older boys, and eventually some men in mixed Bible studies.

While she lived in China, Lottie wrote letters to the Foreign Mission Board, begging for more missionaries. She was often alone or had very little help. They also reduced the amount of money they would send her whenever they had financial difficulties. This would eventually be an indirect cause of her death.

When the famine came in P’ingtu, she gave all that she had. She could not bear to see the Chinese women starving so she gave them her own food. She ate so little that she literally starved. She was very sick from malnutrition. A devoted missionary nurse, Miss Cynthia Miller, agreed with a local doctor that she needed to get her home to the US to see a doctor. But Lottie died on board a ship in the harbor at Kobe, Japan. She died on December 24, 1912. Lottie was 72 years old.

After her death, the Women’s Missions groups realized how important it was to support missionaries. Because she was so determined, Woman’s Missionary Union® collected the Christmas Offering to give to the Foreign Mission Board. At Annie Armstrong’s suggestion, the offering was named for Lottie Moon in 1919. Today it is called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® for International Missions.

What are you called to do? Do it with while “applying all diligence” (II Peter 1:5). We are not all called to go to a foreign country like Lottie Moon. We are not going to starve to death as Lottie did. But there is a different way that most of us are called. We are called to the really hard tasks of everyday living. Most of us are called to live right here and raise up the next generation for Christ – an equally important if not greater task requiring as much diligence as any missionary had to endure.

The times we live in are hard. We cannot be June Cleaver living in an idealistic situation. Let us be like Lottie Moon. The purpose of this blog is to encourage women to live courageously in our spiritually difficult times. Be careful to follow your Biblical calling. Prayerfully consider how to balance your time for yourself, your family, your community, and the world.

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