One of the most encouraging (and challenging) things I do for myself is to read the biographies of great missionaries.
It is encouraging because their lives display the power and providence of God….
It is challenging because I see their commitment is so much greater than mine.
Few missionaries symbolize this balance of encouragement and challenge more than David Brainerd. His life story is well known because the biography written by Jonathan Edwards. Brainerd experienced countless physical ailments during his life but did not let any of them keep him from bringing a spirit-filled revival to the Indian Americans. He died at an early age, but surely did burn out for God.
The testimony of David Brainerd is reflected in countless other stories of missionaries who came to the field by boat with their own casket. Ones who never left the field for any reason!
I personally don’t believe God would never have Missionaries return to the field since Churches support them financially and through prayer.
But I DO believe Missionaries must be completely committed to God.
The true beauty of Brainerd and those like him wasn’t in their ministry. Instead it was in their personal devotion the the Lord. David Brainerd would spend hours in prayer each day seeking the presence and help of God. He would study Scripture with a passion allowing the Lord to speak to him through the Holy Spirit. This is where the commitment came from.
When being challenged by the life of David Brainerd part of me shouts “work harder”! But that is not the Holy Spirits voice, that is the voice of my sin-nature. The Holy Spirit would instead whisper “draw closer”.
For it’s the hours spent in the presence of my heavenly Father that will light an enquenchable fire.