From the Ends of the Earth
“Listen to Me, you islands; hear this you distant nations… you are My servant Israel.. to restore the tribes of Jacob.. I will make you a light for the gentiles, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:1-6
To the Ends of the Earth
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness…” Psalm 24:1
Our Creator, and Redeemer, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the eternal Judge is “The God of all the earth…” Isaiah 54:5
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” 1 Corinthians 10:26
“The whole earth is full of His Glory…” Isaiah 6:3
It is the earnest prayer of all believers: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your Glory above all the earth.” Psalm 108:5
Our Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10
The Lord’s Word is to be proclaimed “to the end of the world...” Isaiah 62:11
“The heavens declare the Glory of God.. there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out throughout all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4. By ship, by aircraft, by vehicle, by bicycle, by foot, by radio broadcasts and through literature the Word of God has been proclaimed to the end of the earth.
The Lord Jesus promised His disciples: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
Before His Ascension our Lord Jesus Christ declared: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The Apostle Paul declared that their words had indeed gone out to the ends of the world (Romans 10:18).
The Blessings of Abraham
It is the most inspiring drama imaginable. How God has led and guided and protected the children of Abraham. How God has spoken to, and through, the descendants of Abraham. How God has guided His people, made them into a great nation, blessed them, made their name great and made them a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3).
“Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.” Genesis 18:18
The Angel of the Lord declared to Abraham: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gates of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:17-18
Indeed history testifies how God has blessed and multiplied the descendants of Abraham and they, more than any other, have possessed the gates of their enemies.
In the history of the Church it is clear that all the nations of the earth have been blessed by the faithful children of Abraham, who have proclaimed God’s Word to the ends of the earth.
The Apostles of Christ
Paul was the first to proclaim the Gospel in Europe. John Mark established the Church in Egypt. Matthew proclaimed the Gospel in Ethiopia. Thomas established churches throughout Babylonia and India. Nathaniel preached the Gospel in India and Armenia. Philip proclaimed the Gospel throughout Gaul and Asia Minor. Simon the Zealot preached the Word of God throughout Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Andrew proclaimed the Gospel throughout Greece and all the way to Scotland.
Called and Commissioned
Almighty God restated His Divine call and commission to Abraham’s son, Isaac: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My Laws.” Genesis 26:4-5
Throughout the centuries Isaac’s sons have faithfully contended for the Faith, preserved and translated God’s Word, reformed the church and proclaimed God’s Word to the ends of the earth.
Patrick – Missionary to Ireland and Columba – Missionary to Scotland
In the 5 th Century, Patrick succeeded in establishing over 300 congregations and baptising 120 000 people in Ireland. In the 6 th Century, Colomba and his missionaries mobilised the effective evangelisation of Scotland from their mission base at Iona. Colomba and his men undertook missionary outreaches as far afield as France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
Boniface – The Apostle to the Germans
In the 8th Century, Boniface left Wessex to labour as a missionary to the Germans. Through his bold, courageous and persistent labours, Boniface succeeded in bringing to Christ multitudes in Frisia, Thuringia and Hesse. Boniface was undoubtedly one of the most successful missionaries of the first millenium. He not only converted multitudes of individuals, but he discipled an entire nation.
In a dramatic confrontation with the pagans of Hesse, Boniface chopped down the sacred oak of Donar in Geismar. The huge oak was a shrine to the pagan god Thor. Boniface used the wood from this felled oak to build a chapel in Fritzlar. Boniface destroyed idols, baptized heathen, established churches and mission centres, opposed corrupt and immoral clerics, decisively dealt with heresy and worked tirelessly to reform the church. He established a vast network of schools and mission stations.
Boniface declared: “Let us die for the holy laws of our fathers. Let us not be dumb dogs, silent spectators, hirelings who flee from the wolf, but faithful shepherds, watchful for the flock of Christ. Let us preach the whole counsel of God to the high and to the low, to the rich and to the poor, to every rank and age, whether in season or out of season, as far as God gives us strength.”
Boniface hungered and thirsted for the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit. He disciplined his life to faithfully follow the example and teachings of Christ, and he eagerly embraced the suffering that comes from preaching and living the Gospel.
King Alfred’s Fight for Faith and Freedom
King Alfred the Great of Wessex lived through tumultuous times and is recognised as one of the most intelligent, devout, industrious and effective of all medieval monarchs. Alfred was soldier and scholar, lawmaker and educator, author and reformer. For most of Alfred’s 30 years reign he was a soldier king leading his people in a desperate war for survival against great odds as the Danish Vikings overwhelmed most of the British Isles. Alfred personally commanded in 54 pitched battles. In just the first 5 months of 870AD, Alfred fought 9 pitched battles against the Danes.
As Winston Churchill commented on the strategic victory of Alfred at the Battle of Ashdown in 874: “If the West Saxons had been beaten, all England would have been sunk into heathen anarchy. Since they were victorious, the hope still burned for a civilized Christian existence in this Island.”
To beat these sea faring Danes, Alfred contracted Frisian seamen to build a fleet superior to any that had previously been seen. Alfred has justly been called “The father of the English Navy.”
The Common Law
King Alfred was determined to build this nation upon the Law of God. The Dooms of King Alfred began with The Ten Commandments, the Laws of Moses, the Golden Rule of Christ and other Biblical principles from the Sermon on the Mount. Alfred succeeded in instilling such a great respect for law and order in the kingdom that it was said that a traveler might hang a valuable jewel on a bush by the roadside and no one would dare touch it.
Winning the Vikings for Christ
Through virtue and valour, tactics and tenacity, King Alfred fought the Viking invaders to a standstill and then worked to bring them to Christ.
Winston Churchill marveled that Alfred should have: “wished to convert these savage foes… this sublime power to rise above the whole force of circumstances, to remain unbiased by the extremes of victory or defeat, to persevere in the teeth of disaster, to greet returning fortune with a cool eye, to have faith in men after repeated betrayals, raises Alfred far above the turmoil of barbaric wars to his pinnacle of deathless victory.”
King Alfred stands out as the model king, the perfect knight, a dedicated Christian, a Protestant before the Reformation, a soldier and scholar, lawmaker and educator, author and Reformer. He successfully fought against spiritual decay within the English church as well as against the Danish invaders, creating the first English Navy, authoring English literature, ensuring the survival of Christianity in England and beginning the great process of converting the bloodthirsty Vikings to Christianity.
The Morning Star of The Reformation
Professor John Wycliffe was the Morning Star of the Reformation. When Oxford was the greatest university in the world, John Wycliffe was its greatest professor. Wycliffe championed the independence of England from papal control and supported King Edward III’s refusal to pay taxes to the pope. Then Wycliffe attacked the corruptions, superstitions and abuses of the friars and monks. He exposed their supposed powers to forgive sins as fraudulent.
“Who can forgive sins?” Wycliffe taught: “God alone!”
He exposed indulgences, purgatory and transubstantiation as unBiblical heresies.
Wycliffe translated the New Testament from Latin into English and mobilized lay preachers (Lollards) to travel throughout the land to read these handwritten Bibles, preach in the market places and sing the Scriptures – in English.
Wycliffe’s writings and example inspired Jan Hus the Reformer of Prague and the great Saxon Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther.
William Tyndale and The Battle for The Bible
The man, whom God used to translate the Bible into English, from the original languages, was William Tyndale. Tyndale was a gifted scholar and linguist, a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Prevented by law from translating the Bible into English in England, Tyndale sailed for Germany in 1524, never to return to his homeland. In Hamburg, Cologne, and Worms, Tyndale worked to translate, and to print, the Bible in English. The first printed edition of the English New Testament needed to be smuggled into England. Most of these were discovered and destroyed, by order of the Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall.
Yet Tyndale persevered to produce a better translation. Finally he was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned for 500 days in a cold, dark and damp dungeon. On 6 October 1536 he was burned at the stake. His last reported words were: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
The Lord did indeed answer the dying prayer of Tyndale in a most remarkable way. Within two years, by order of King Henry VIII, every parish church in England was required to have a copy of the English Bible available to its parishioners.
Not only can William Tyndale be described as the father of the English Bible, but in a real sense the foremost influence on the shaping of the English language itself. Because Tyndale’s translation was the very first from the original Hebrew and Greek into the English language, Tyndale went back to the original Saxon. He rescued English from the French and Latin words and trends, which were swamping the English language at that time.
Tyndale’s translation of the Bible established English as an extension of the Biblical Hebrew and Greek worldview. The clarity, simplicity and poetic beauty which Tyndale brought to the English language through his translation served as a linguistic rallying point for the development of the English language. And so, every person in the world who writes, speaks, or even thinks, in English is, to a large extent, indebted to the Reformer and Bible translator William Tyndale.
It is also extraordinary while English was one of the minor languages of Europe in the early 16 th Century, with less than 3 million speaking it, today it has become a truly worldwide language with over 2 billion people communicating in English.
Thomas Cranmer – Reformer and Martyr
The first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, began the work of transforming the Roman Church in England into the Protestant Church of England. This he accomplished through his Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer and The 42 Articles, which were later revised into The 39 Articles. Under Queen Elizabeth, these became the official foundational statement of the Church of England worldwide. By Thomas Cranmer’s immense learning, ecclesiastical authority and hard work, he dominated the Reformation in England, rescued the church from Rome and propelled England into the Protestant camp.
Amongst his last words, before being burned at the stake in Oxford, Thomas Cranmer declared: “As for the Pope, I refuse him as Christ’s enemy and anti-Christ, with all his false doctrines!”
Faith and Courage
On 16 October 1555, two Protestant bishops were burned at the stake in Oxford. The Bishop of London, Nicolas Ridley, respected as one of the finest theologians in England, and the Bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer, one of the most powerful preachers of his day, were chained to a stake surrounded by firewood piled high at its base. As the flames began to rise, Bishop Latimer declared: “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s Grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out!”
Candles Burn in Africa
Indeed, more than 450 years later we can rejoice that the Protestant Faith of Bishops’ Ridley and Latimer burns brightly in Africa. Every Sunday there are more than 2 million Anglicans gathered in church in Sudan alone. Millions more in Uganda and Kenya. Nigeria has 18 million Anglicans gathered in church every Sunday. There are now vastly more Anglicans who are faithful to The 39 Articles, and follow The Prayer Book order of service set out by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, in Africa, than in all North America and Great Britain combined.
The Counter-productive Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation persecutions and oppression under Mary Tudor were counter-productive. The fanatical obsession of Bloody Mary to return England to Catholicism spectacularly backfired. As Foxe’s Book of Martyrs recorded, neither of the hundreds of prominent executions of Protestant leaders, nor all the cruelties, torments, tortures and oppression unleashed under Bloody Mary were sufficient to crush the Protestant Reformation in England. By attempting to exterminate the Reformation, Bloody Mary only succeeded in entrenching it, convincing the vast majority of Englishmen in their resolution and determination never again to succumb to such tyranny, superstition, intolerance and error.
The Rise of England as a World Power
Under Queen Elizabeth I’s 45 years reign England was united, strengthened and entrenched as a Protestant nation. It prospered and flourished until it defeated the great military super power of the age, Spain. Elizabeth encouraged English enterprise and commerce, establishing a consistent legal code. Her reign was noted for the English Renaissance, an outpouring of poetry and drama led by William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe.
The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 marked a great watershed in world history. It signaled the decline of Catholic Spain and Portugal and the rise of Protestant England and Holland. Before 1588 the world powers were Spain and Portugal. These Roman Catholic empires dominated the seas and the overseas possessions of Europe. Only after the English defeated the Spanish Armada did the possibility arise of Protestant missionaries crossing the seas. As the Dutch and British grew in military and naval strength, they were able to challenge the Catholic dominance of the seas and the new continents. Foreign missions now became a distinct possibility. By the Grace of God, the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 saved the Protestant Reformation in England from Spanish invasion, oppression and the inquisition.
It was during the reign of Elizabeth that North America was first claimed for the Protestant cause, with Sir Walter Raleigh’s naming of Virginia after the virgin Queen of England and pioneering the first English settlement in what was to become the United States of America.
A Golden Age
Under Queen Elizabeth, England flourished spiritually, militarily and economically. The Elizabethan years saw some of the greatest soldiers, explorers, scientists, philosophers and poets ever produced. Under Elizabeth Parliament flourished and the Protestant Reformation became entrenched in the Church of England and through the Puritan movement. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life changing, history making and nation transforming!
The Father of Modern Missions
In 1793, the modern missionary movement was launched by William Carey. In just 100 years Bible translations multiplied from 60 to 537 and mission organisations from 7 to 100. Protestant missionaries were sent to the ends of the earth. Whole tribes were converted and nations discipled. The world went from being 25% evangelised to 51% evangelised. Within a century, by 1900, the number of professing Christians had more than doubled from 215 million in 1800 to 520 million by 1900.
A Sermon that Changed the World
On 31 May 1792, in Northhampton, William Carey preached one of the most influential sermons in history. His text was Isaiah 54:2-3 and his challenge: “Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God!” inspired the formation of The Particular (Calvinist) Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathens.
Teaching Nations and Translating the Bible
William Carey and his co-workers started over 100 Christian schools for over 8000 Indian children of all casts. He launched the first Christian college in Asia, Serampore College, which continues to this day. Carey succeeded in translating the entire Bible into six languages and the New Testament and Gospels into 29 other languages!
William Carey successfully fought against Sati (widow burning), child sacrifice, child prostitution, slavery and other social evils. Carey established the first newspaper ever printed in an Oriental language, and the first savings banks. He introduced the steam engine to India and pioneered the idea of lending libraries. Carey founded that the Agric-horticultural Society in the 1820’s (30 years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England!). 50 years before the government made its first attempt at Forest Conservation, Carey was already pioneering Forestry Conservation in India.
Against all Odds
Despite being brought up in abject poverty, and never having had the benefit of High School, through his insatiable thirst for knowledge and wide reading, Carey taught himself Latin by age 12. He went on to master, on his own, Greek, Hebrew, French and Dutch. He eventually became Professor of oriental languages, Bengali, Sanskrit and Marathi, at the prestigious Fort William College in Calcutta, where the civil servants were trained. William Carey certainly lived his challenge to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God! As William Carey time and again stated: “God’s cause will triumph!”
It is interesting to note that, in the 200 years since William Carey launched the modern missionary movement, English speakers have made up 85% of Protestant missionaries worldwide.
Opening up Africa for the Gospel
Scottish missionary David Livingstone became the best friend Africa has ever had. Livingstone was a great missionary pioneer pathfinder. Three themes dominated his life: Evangelisation, Exploration and Emancipation.
He listed, Member of Parliament William Wilberforce’s book, Practical Christianity, as one of the most influential books he ever read. Livingstone determined, at his conversion at age 12, to devote his life to the alleviation of human misery. To this end he trained as a medical doctor and went out under the London Missionary Society. Initially Livingstone had been planning to go to China, but he was redirected to Africa by Robert Moffat’s inspiring description of “The smoke of a thousand villages that have not yet heard the Gospel of Christ.”
Livingstone walked across Africa, from coast to coast. “I shall open up a path to the interior or perish!”
Livingstone the Liberator
“Shame upon us missionaries if we are to be outdone by slave traders!” Battling rains, chronic discomfort, rust, mildew and rot, totally drenched and fatigued, laid low by fever and attacked by hostile tribes, yet David Livingstone persevered on foot across the continent.
“Can the love of Christ not carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?”
“These privations, I beg you to observe, are not sacrifices. I think that word ought never to be mentioned in reference to anything we can do for Him, Who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.”
Livingstone confronted and exposed the sickening sights of the Islamic slave trade: burned out villages, corpses floating down rivers and long lines of shackled slaves been herded through the bush. Many hundreds of slaves were set free by David Livingstone’s direct intervention. In his public speaking engagements, between missionary tours in Africa, Livingstone regularly spoke of his two primary concerns: to enlighten people of the evils of the Islamic slave trade, and to spread the Christian Gospel amongst the heathen. He dedicated his life to bringing the Christian Faith and Freedom to Africa.
Livingstone was the first to map the great Zambezi River and many other parts of the vast hinterland of Africa. He was the first scientist to make the connection between mosquitoes and malaria and he pioneered the use of quinine as a treatment.
The challenge of David Livingstone rings out to us today: “Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay… it is emphatically no sacrifice! Say rather, it is a privilege!”
In one of his last meetings in England, David Livingstone presented this challenge: “I beg to direct your attention to Africa; I know in a few years I shall be cut off in that country, which is now open; do not let it be shut again! I go back to Africa to try to make an open path for Commerce and Christianity; it is for you to carry out the work, which I have begun. l leave it with you!”
Mission to Calabar
One of the daughters of Abraham whom God sent as a missionary to Africa, in response to the challenge of David Livingstone, was Mary Slessor. Born, the second of seven children, into a poor and troubled home in Scotland, Mary was brought up in abject poverty sleeping on the floor in a one roomed home that had no plumbing, no lighting and hardly any furniture.
Like her great example, David Livingstone, Mary began working at the cotton mill at age 10. The news of the death of David Livingstone in 1874 galvanized Mary Slessor into missions. She left her home in Dundee for missionary training in Edinburgh and was appointed by the United Presbyterian Church as a missionary teacher for Calabar (present day Nigeria).
Courage and Compassion
Red headed Mary confronted the rampant witchcraft, drunkenness, immorality and slave trading in Calabar. She cared for the many abandoned children, treated the sick and fed the starving. She set up schools and interposed herself between the feared witchdoctors and their victims.
Mary is particularly revered in Nigeria as Eko Kpukpro Owa – the mother of all the people. She passionately campaigned against the Nigerian practice of killing twins. Twins were believed to be bewitched and so they were killed in a most cruel manner. Mary rescued these doomed infants and raised them as her own children. At one point Mary moved to the Itu, which were notorious as slave traders, and where cannibalism was still practiced. Because of her tireless and courageous efforts, many schools and churches were established, the killing of twins ceased, slave trading in Calabar was eradicated, drunkenness, killing and witchcraft diminished and most of the people came to embrace the Gospel of Christ.
Cricketer Converts Cannibals in the Congo
As the famous English cricketer turned pioneer missionary to China, India and Africa, C.T. Studd declared: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
As he suffered malaria and other attacks, C.T. Studd wrote: “Some like to live within sound of church or chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”
“Only one life, it will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last!”
China Inland Mission
Hudson Taylor stated that his life was based upon three facts: “There is a living God. He has spoken in the Bible. He means what He says and He will do all that He has promised.”
“The battle is the Lord’s and He will conquer. We may fail, do fail continually, but He never fails.”
“The Will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.”
Setting the Captives Free
One of the many fruits of William Wilberforce’s life long crusade against slave trade was the rescue of Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Samuel was born in 1807, the year Great Britain abolished the slave trade. At age 13 Samuel Crowther was captured by slave traders and sold to Portuguese traders for transport across the Atlantic. But he was rescued by a British Naval squadron.
“About the 3 rd year of my liberation from the slavery of man, I was convinced of another worse state of slavery, that of sin and satan. I was admitted into the visible Church of Christ here on earth as a soldier to fight manfully under His banner against spiritual enemies.”
Every Tongue and Tribe
Samuel was converted to Christ, received an education, both in Sierra Leone and England and in 1843 was ordained as a minister of the Church of England for service with the Church Missionary Society. One of the first converts Samuel baptized was his own mother – who took the Christian name Hannah. His language, Yoruba, became the first African language to have The Book of Common Prayer translated into it. To this day the Church of England in Nigeria uses Samuel Crowther’s Yoruba translation for their liturgy.
A Legacy of Liberty
In 1864, in an overflowing Canterbury Cathedral, Samuel Ajayi Crowther was ordained as the first African Bishop of the Church of England. His first mission was along the Niger River as a follow up to the anti-slavery expeditions of Wilberforce’s successor, Sir T. Foxwell-Buxton. Of the 145 Europeans on that expedition 130 were struck down with malaria and 40 died. Yet, the expedition succeeded in establishing a mission base at Fourah Bay for training liberated slaves to evangelise West Africa. It was built in the very place where the slave market had once stood. The rafters of the roof were made up almost entirely from the masts of old slave ships captured by the Royal Navy.
With over 120 million people, Nigeria is the largest nation in Africa. Despite having suffered under a succession of Muslim dictators, more than half of the population of Nigeria claim to be Christians.
From the Ends of the Earth
God has certainly made the Saxons a light for the Gentiles to bring Salvation to the ends of the earth. And just as God’s Word has gone out from these British Isles to the very ends of the earth, setting captives free, blessing all the families of the nations of the earth in so many ways, so now from the ends of the earth the Word comes back to these Isles, declaring: “Here are the ancient paths – walk in them. Contend for the Faith once delivered unto the saints. Listen, you Islands, hear this you distant nations… you are My servant Israel to restore the tribes of Jacob…”
A Macedonian Call to Moruland
On my first mission to Sudan I received a Macedonian call from Rev. Kenneth Barringwa. He had tracked me down and with great intensity, he urged me: “You must come to Moruland!”
On my next trip, after having driven a heavily laden diesel truck through the night to the border of Sudan, we charted an aircraft to fly over the rolling hills, rocky mountains and wide expanse of the Nile River to Moruland. We landed with 1 200 Bibles at a remote bush landing strip and were welcomed by an enthusiastic choir of singing and dancing Christians.
We were informed that the battlefront – the nearest Muslim garrison – was a mere 15 miles away. Because their last church gathering has been subjected to aerial bombardment they had constructed a special conference venue in the bush outside of town. I was most impressed with the high standards of civil administration, church structures, community organisation, hygiene and spiritual fevour maintained in this district. The Commissioner explained that the reason for all this was that a Scottish missionary couple – Dr. Kenneth Fraser and his wife Eileen – had come and firmly planted the Gospel in Moruland in 1920.
From Scotland to Moruland
Kenneth Fraser had run away from home at age 14 and joined the British Army. He was converted to Christ while stationed in South Africa during the Anglo Boer War. When his unit was sent to India he met his future wife, Eileen, who was the daughter of an Irish pastor. Eileen had a strong sense of call to pioneer missionary work in Africa and she communicated this vision to Fraser. They returned to Scotland determined to follow in the footsteps of Dr. David Livingstone and so began to study medicine and theology.
No sooner had Kenneth and Eileen married in 1914 then the First World War broke out. Dr. Fraser returned to the Army as a Major and was sent to Turkey where he was involved in some of the fiercest battles. By the end of the War he had been promoted to Major General and was much loved and admired by his men. For her part, Eileen Fraser had enrolled as a nurse and cared for war wounded in France.
After the war, the Frasers completed their training with the Church Missionary Society and travelled up the Nile to Sudan. They were welcomed to Moruland by Chief Yila at Lui on 22 December 1920. The local people had suffered much at the hands of the Arab slave traders and were very suspicious of foreigners. However Dr. Fraser’s medical skills created a sensation and they had to construct a hospital to care for the great number of patients. Soon Dr Fraser built the first school, then the first church. He trained the first teachers, nurses and pastors. He drilled all the people in physical training early each morning. By the time General Doctor Rev. Fraser had passed away in 1935 he had laid solid foundations for continual growth and expansion.
Through the Fire
The fruit of Dr. Fraser’s ministry in Moruland was impressive. Despite decades of devastation at the hands of the National Islamic Front (NIF) government of Sudan, the resilient Moru believers were standing firm.
The Islamic government of Sudan had repeatedly attacked the villages and farms of Moruland as part of their scorched earth campaign. Widespread destruction and suffering had been caused by aerial bombardments and ground offenses. The systematic burning of crops and looting of livestock led to severe man made famine.
Moru churches, schools and hospitals were attacked by high flying bomber aircraft and rocketed and staffed by low flying helicopter gunships. Captured Moru Christians had been tortured, maimed and murdered. Yet the tenacious Moru Christians were steadfast in resisting the Arabisation and Islamisation policies of the government of Sudan.
On one of my mission trips I arrive to find our venue for our Muslim Evangelism Workshop destroyed. Two helicopter gun ships had rocketed and destroyed the Episcopal church in Kotobi. Yet the pastors still gathered in the burned out wreckage of their church to receive training in how to evangelise their Muslim neighbours.
A Hospital for Moruland
On another occasion I saw further fruit of the legacy of the sacrificial and far sighted work of the Frasers. I had prevailed upon Franklin Graham to send an exploratory team from Samaritans Purse to consider establishing a hospital in Moruland. I explained to the team that Dr. Kenneth Fraser had planted the first hospital in the region at Lui. And as this area had recently been liberated by the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), they could have the opportunity to rehabilitate this historic facility. At that time there was no hospital for the millions of people in Western Equatoria. There was no doubt that thousands of lives could be saved by an efficient hospital in the area.
To persuade this skeptical team that this was the right location for such a hospital, I told of the magnificent ministry of Kenneth Fraser and how honest the Moru people were. “You could leave your wallet on the road outside the marketplace and someone would bring it to you”.
Well the next day as we were driving out of Kotobi to show the team the newly liberated town of Lui, and Dr. Fraser’s hospital, the team leader challenged me: “Do you really believe what you told us? That you could leave your wallet on the road by the marketplace and someone would bring it to you?!”
“Yes!” I replied.
“Come on” , he extended his hand to me “give me your wallet!” As I reluctantly handed over my wallet, he threw it out of the window onto the road, just as we passed the marketplace. There was much laughter from the others in the vehicle.
My heart sank, it was not that I was so concerned about what was in the wallet, it wasn’t that much money from my perspective, but the fear gripped me that perhaps I had overstated the case and what if some refugee from another tribe was passing by that day?
So much was at stake. Throughout that busy day as we explored the ruins of Lui, which had been under Arab occupation until just the month previously, my mind continually returned to my wallet in Kotobi and I prayer feverently that whoever found it would be honest.
That night when we returned there was no word. I tossed and turned under my mosquito net considering what a terrible testimony it would be if someone had chosen to keep the wallet.
However, by God’s grace the next morning, just before the Sunday service, Canon Reuben came up to me with two boys next to him and held out my wallet: “Is this yours?” he asked. “These two boys here found it outside the marketplace.”
As there was an identity card with my picture in the wallet it hadn’t been hard for them to work out to whom it belonged. As I took the wallet I turned and saw the wide-eyed, shocked expressions of the Samaritans Purse team with their jaws wide open in disbelief. They were impressed.
The Fruit of Integrity
Within the month Samaritans Purse was back in Lui fully committed and restoring Dr. Frasers hospital. SP poured millions of dollars into this project and after 10 years and treating hundreds of thousands of patients, saving thousands of lives, they handed the hospital over to the local church.
I’ve often thought that those two young boys could not have known how important it was that they responded with integrity that day. How many lives and limbs had been saved? How many people blessed and families enriched as a result of the long and productive ministry of Samaritans Purse in that community? Yet I am convinced that had those youngsters stolen that wallet that day, they would have robbed not only me of my wallet, but the entire community of more than 10 years of magnificent health care, with so many other ripple effects to the great benefit of their community.
Let the Earth Hear His Voice
Kenneth Fraser translated the Gospels and the Book of Acts into Moru before his death in 1935. One of his disciples, Canon Ezra Lawiri, dedicated his life to translating the rest of the Bible into Moru. In 1991 Canon Ezra was shot and killed in an ambush with the Arabs on the road to Juba. Amongst his last words were a solemn charge to his deacon Bullen Dolli: “My work on earth is complete. See that the Bible is printed.”
What I found out that the whole Bible was translated into Moru but was still needing sponsorship for printing, I determined that Frontline Fellowship should finance the printing of the first Bibles in the Moru language. By God’s Grace, in the year 2000, I had the privilege of delivering the first shipments of the first complete Bible in the Moru language to Kotobi and Lui.
Bombed In Sudan
On that Sunday morning, while presenting the first copies of the Moru Bible to the community at Jamba, close to where the Bible translator was killed and buried, we were bombed by the NIF government. Eight bombs were dropped in two straefing runs by a Soviet antanov. All landed within a hundred meters of the church. Yet, despite eight bombs landing in an area about the size of a football field, not one of the congregation were killed. I was about the only casualty with a few cracked ribs.
The trees were pockmarked with shrapnel. Fragments of the bombs were found on all sides of the church. Yet not only did the church building remain standing, but soon it was packed full again. Not only did we not lose anyone. We gained many people. There were more people in the church after the bombing than there were before!
The Battle for the Bible
The highlight of this service was as we presented the first Moru Bibles to this community near where the Bible translator lay buried. I reminded them that William Tyndale, who printed the first New Testaments in the English language, had been burned at the stake for that crime.
Here we were, just a few miles from where the Bible translator lay buried, and the Sunday morning that we were presenting the Bible he dedicated his life to translating, we were bombed at church. How much clearer could it be that the Bible is a message of life and death? Some people hate it so much that they are willing to kill to destroy it. Others love the Word of God so much they are willing to give their life to advance it.
Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
A Mighty Fortress is our God
On one occasion a Frontline Fellowship mission team was in Cuando Cubango province in Angola. This was such a remote section of Angola that the Portuguese called it “the end of the earth”. Well, here our team was, at the end of the earth, and as they drove into this remote village they could hear singing. Although they did not know the words they immediately recognised the tune. The village was singing Ein Festa Burg – A Mighty Fortress is our God - in Ovimbundu. Martin Luther’s great battle hymn of the Reformation was being sung at the ends of the earth in Ovimbundu!
We were then informed that it was 31 October, Reformation Day. The village was celebrating the Reformation. School children had made out posters with sketches of the great Reformers: Dr. Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, John Knox and John Calvin. The Latin battle cries of the Reformation were boldly displayed on banners: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria.
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the Kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations. All … shall bow before Him … a posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation. They will come and declare His righteousness, there are people who will be born, that He has done this.” Psalm 22:27-31
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town , South Africa
Tel: (021) 689-4480
Fax: (021) 685-5884