Marcus’ October Letter

‘Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men…’

Hasn’t it been so encouraging to see again how Jesus chose ordinary people, just like us and through them changed the world! Life can often feel like being on a never ending treadmill, a rat race, scurrying around with our heads just above water. For others it may feel quiet, too quiet, in fact boring and that life has just passed us by. When Jesus came and called us to himself, he brought us into the most wonderful and thrilling adventure of all. Every day as we wake up, we can begin by saying ‘another day on planet earth, another day with Jesus, what is going to happen as we follow you today!’ Never would the four fishermen have dreamed when they left their nets and boats by the lake that they would turn the world upside down. Andrew went on to preach in modern day Georgia and Bulgaria before being finally being crucified on an olive tree in Greece. James as we know, was arrested and executed by King Herod while preaching in Judea. John after being banished to the Isle of Patmos went to Ephesus where he preached and lived many years. Peter travelled widely across large parts of modern Europe and Asia before being finally crucified upside down by Nero in Rome. They were such remarkable men who did really change the world because they had been with Jesus.

I have found it fascinating in reading the lives of many of the greatest missionaries to discover that they weren’t generally prodigiously gifted individuals. What stood out about them consistently was the way in which they had loved and served their saviour so faithfully that they were profoundly like him. They were different and everyone wanted to know why. Take for example the humble parlour maid Gladys Aylward, turned down by an established mission organisation as not being sufficiently competent. Gladys saved up and made her own way to China. It is beautiful story as she travelled all alone, compelled only by her love of her Lord and for the people of China. After many unforgettable adventures she was invited to a civic function by the local dignitary, the Mandarin. This is how it went;

‘after the meal, the Mandarin rose to speak. To her surprise he began to tell the story of how Gladys had come to China, and of her adventures and exploits. She had adopted a Chinese child as her own and she had become a Chinese citizen. And always when she was asked why she came to China, she answered in the same way. ‘She always answers that she came to tell about Jesus, about his love for us Chinese and his forgiveness of sin and his salvation. She says no one could have cared more for us Chinese and for China than Jesus. For many years I felt that it was only Gladys herself who cared for China. And now I say to her, I wish to follow this Jesus who loves China, I wish to become a Christian.’

Gladys Aylward’s life as she followed Jesus was so wonderful that the civic leader was compelled to ask if her God could be his God as well. Has anyone ever asked you the same thing? My prayer for each of us is that as we grow in knowledge of Jesus we would be overwhelmed by His loveliness, and that it could be said also of us that we have been with Jesus. There may be one thing that a tired, jaded and sceptical culture will take notice of; not another clever clogs arguing but someone deeply in love.

With love and blessings in Jesus,

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