Mark Batterson in his new book, ALL IN, wrote: “A century ago, a band of brave souls became known as one-way missionaries. They purchased single tickets to the mission field without the return half. And instead of suitcases, they packed their few earthly belongings into coffins. As they sailed out of port, they waved good-bye to everyone they loved, everything they knew. They knew they’d never return home.
A.W. Milne was one of those missionaries. He set sail for the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, knowing full well that the headhunters who lived there had martyred every missionary before him. Milne did not fear for his life, because he had already died to himself. His coffin was packed. For thirty-five years, he lived among that tribe and loved them. When he died, tribe members buried him in the middle of their village and inscribed this epitaph on his tombstone: When he came there was no light. When he left there was no darkness.”
I have always been in awe of men and women like A.W. Milne. Still am. I know people like him have the call of God on their lives and have surrendered their will to the will of God – no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. I get that. What I don’t get is how these people walk away from so many of the comforts and conveniences the rest of us enjoy on a regular basis, yet, in spite of the things they give up to serve the Lord, in so many cases, they seem to have more joy and a deeper sense of spiritual fulfillment than the rest of us.
Could it be those who sacrifice the most receive the most? Jesus sure seemed to support that when He said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
Next weekend we’ll have the privilege of having a number of people in our midst like A.W. Milne. All of our missionaries are coming home.
Well, not all of them.
Every three years we hold an incredible event here at Crossroads called our WORLD MISSIONS' CONFERENCE. All our missionaries come home, and we honor them, love on them, listen to them and learn from them … all on the same weekend.
Our last conference was Nov. 6-7, 2010. None of us knew it would be the last time RON CARLSON would be on our campus. Known all over the world as the leading authority and expert on the cults and the non-Christian religions of the world, Ron was also one of our dearest friends and one of our church’s longtime, favorite missionaries.
I remember meeting with all our missionaries in our bookstore just prior to our missions’ banquet and said to them all: “I want to encourage all of you to enjoy these moments we have this weekend because they will go by so fast and none of us knows whether or not we’ll be here next time.” Little did I know it would be the final time we’d have the privilege of having Ron here.
Our missionaries will begin arriving this Thursday, and all of them will be leaving Sunday afternoon following the groundbreaking service for our new children’s building. I want to encourage all of us to take advantage of and enjoy every moment we have next weekend − the weekend will go by so fast, and none of us knows whether or not we’ll be here next time.
I also want to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to get a ticket today to our missions' banquet next Saturday night (Nov. 2) as we have the opportunity to honor over two dozen, modern-day A.W. Milnes. Trust me, the cost of a ticket and giving up a couple of hours pales in comparison to the sacrifices our missionaries make on a daily basis to represent Christ and Crossroads, taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.
How do these people walk away from so many of the comforts and conveniences the rest of us enjoy on a regular basis, yet, in spite of the things they give up to serve the Lord, in so many cases, they seem to have more joy and a deeper sense of spiritual fulfillment than the rest of us?
Maybe we can find out this next weekend. Don’t miss a single part of our 2013 World Missions' Conference.
No matter what.
© 2013. Barry L. Cameron
1 Mark Batterson, ALL IN (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013) 13.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.