[photopress:keithfalconer.jpg,thumb,right]I was challenged tonight by these words of Ion Keith-Falconer given as he left Scotland to serve as a missionary to Muslims in 1886.
There must be some who will read these words, or who, having the cause of Christ at heart, have ample independent means, and are not fettered by genuine home ties. Perhaps you are content with giving annual subscriptions and occasional donations, and taking a weekly class ? Why not give yourselves, money, time and all, to the foreign field ? Our own country is bad enough, but comparatively many must, and do, remain to work at home, while very few are in a position to go abroad. Yet how vast is the Foreign Mission field! The field is the world. Ought you not to consider seriously what your duty is ? The heathen are in darkness, and we are asleep.
Perhaps you try to think that you are meant to remain at home, and induce others to go. By subscribing money, sitting on committees, speaking at meetings, and praying for missions, you will be doing the most you can to spread the Gospel abroad. Not so. By going yourself, you will produce a tenfold more powerful effect… We have a great and imposing war-office, but a very small army. You have wealth snugly vested in the funds, you are strong and healthy, you are at liberty to live where you like, and occupy yourself as you like. While vast continents are shrouded in almost utter darkness, and hundreds of millions suffer the horrors of heathenism or of Islam, the burden of proof lies upon you to shew that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by Him to keep you out of the foreign mission-field.
Ion spoke those words in November 1886, just before setting off for Arabia. Six months later, on 10th May 1887 he died in Aden. He was 30 years old. His biographer wrote:
All the zeal and self-sacrificing earnestness, all the carefully planned and patiently worked-out schemes, all the efforts, all the prayers, seemingly in vain. Yet, God be thanked, it is indeed but in seeming. Who will venture to think, as he looks back on the fair, noble record of Ion Keith-Falconer’s life and on his sacrifice of what the world holds dear, that such love and faith can remain permanently effectless? In that noble young Christian hero’s life and death a seed has assuredly been sown, the ultimate harvest of which no man may foresee.
You can download Ion Keith-Falconer’s memoirs and read them for yourself.