The Power of One

by | Oct 31, 2002 | Frontline

Individual Christians have played extraordinary roles in the spread of the gospel.
Early in my Christian walk (which began more than three decades ago), I recall hearing the phrase, “One plus God is a majority.” The idea behind this was that Christians should never be discouraged by numerical or other odds ranged against them because, with God, not only are all things possible, but also ordinary worldly reckonings of who will or won’t succeed are often overturned.


Later, as some prominent figures in the charismatic movement began behaving in odd ways, Christian teaching began to focus once more–correctly–on the need for both general laity and leaders to be accountable to oversight through a pastor or some sort of board of elders.


So far so good. Balance and accountability has always been needed if the Christian life is not to take off in strange directions.


That said, the fact is that throughout history individual Christians have played extraordinary roles in the spread of the gospel, often in the face of great criticism from their peers or those in ecclesiastical authority over them. The apostle Paul himself is an example of a pioneer who initially was misunderstood by the other apostles and the Christian community in Jerusalem.


Indeed, it is striking how strongly many of the greatest pioneers of evangelism or missionary outreach were flatly opposed by many of the leading Christians of their day. In the Protestant tradition, of course, Martin Luther springs to mind. But John Wesley is perhaps the most remarkable example of a man who persisted in evangelizing England despite intense opposition from much of the Anglican Church.


One of the fruits of the Wesleyan revival was William Wilberforce, whose 47-year campaign against slavery made him at one point one of the most hated men in England. Many devout Christians from his own class opposed his activities with venomous zeal.


William Carey, the great Baptist missionary of India, set off in 1793 with little support from the Christian establishment of his day. Robert Morrison,
the pioneer English Protestant missionary to China, arrived in the port of Canton (Guangzhou today) in 1807. En route, the captain of the ship on which he traveled asked Morrison skeptically if he thought he could have any impact on a country as huge and remote from the gospel as China.


“No,” Morrison is said to have replied, “but I expect that God will.”


Decades later, when another Englishman, Hudson Taylor, pioneered missionary evangelism in China’s interior, mobilizing missionaries dressed in Chinese style, he was roundly reproved by many Christians, including missionaries, of his day.


In our own era, it often has not been any easier, and not just among Protestants. When Roman Catholic Mother Teresa wanted to begin her ministry to “the poorest of the poor” in India in 1949, the Roman Catholic authorities in her home city of Calcutta at first tried to stop her.


In fact, female missionaries in both the Protestant and Catholic traditions have had to overcome a double opposition much of the time: from their own families, worrying about their safety, and from male leaders of their church convinced that women should play no leading Christian roles other than wife and mother.


Yet the history of Africa and Asia would be vastly different without the courage of women such as Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael and Gladys Aylward.


History, which belongs to God, has had a way of vindicating those brave souls often rejected in their own times.


As China approaches the 200th anniversary of Morrison’s arrival, to be celebrated in 2007, Chinese Christians are hoping to honor him by sending thousands of Chinese missionaries overseas. Taylor has long been immensely admired by China’s Christians. Slessor, Aylward and Carmichael also have found places of honor in the rich history of the gospel’s progress around the world.


Yet the challenge remains.


Can we pray that God will protect us from wackos and crooks, even as he continues to raise up Christian pioneers in the face of criticism? Can we pray also sometimes to recognize in these pioneers the greatness that God does? I hope and pray so.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

3 Qualities of Successful Kingdom Leaders

3 Qualities of Successful Kingdom Leaders

If you grew up in the 1990s, you knew Mike. Michael Jordan, that is. It was spectacular to watch him play basketball. He’d make “impossible” shots with only three seconds left on the clock and win the game, It happened … for years! What you might not know is that he...

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the apostles in Acts 1:8 (NLT), “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Jesus promises a gift that would give them comfort, power, strength and encouragement. That gift is the Holy Spirit, and that...

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

One of the wonderful things about reading through the Bible is that the more you read it, the more things you find within its pages. No matter how many times you read a verse or a series of verses, because the Bible is a living document, there will always be more to...

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and that...

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and...

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

On the morning of June 5, 2022, I was praying in preparation for the Arise Women’s Summit I was hosting near Knoxville, Tennessee, when the Lord took me into an encounter. I found myself in the library of heaven standing before a giant staircase made of extremely...

RECENT ARTICLES

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance...
How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

Pin It on Pinterest