By Galen Dalrymple
I sit in the early morning light contemplating my experiences here in Africa. I have just finished my quiet time, today from Luke 10:1-16 which describes Jesus’ sending of the 72 to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom. As was always the case with Jesus, he never pulled his punches, telling them right up front that “I am sending you out as lambs among wolves”. Hardly the way to recruit an army of followers if you are shooting for numbers.
As I contemplate how I might have reacted if I had been among the 72, I couldn’t help but think of the kind of people these 72 must have been. Courageous, surely. Devoted? Yes. Committed, it would appear. And then my mind drifts to others who have been examples of such single-minded devotion during my years on this planet.
I think of Gandhi, living a lifetime in a land of torn loyalties, conflicting religions and traditions: A stifling land full of suffering, pain and sickness. He did it because he believed in the cause. By training he was not a politician or religious leader, he was a lawyer. It is obvious that he could have practiced law very successfully in England if he had chosen to do so. He returned from his studies in South Africa to live out his days in India. Why? Because he loved his country and his people and it pained him to see their animosity toward their fellow countrymen, and the oppression under which they lived. He died a martyr in his own land.
Perhaps there is no one that I respect more than the late Mother Theresa. She was from a wealthy family, yet she chose to give up all the trappings that accompanied wealth to serve the most destitute and most helpless people group in the world. She certainly didn’t do it for material reasons. Her motivations rose from a far greater place than a bank vault. She died a pauper herself, but a greatly loved and respected pauper, one who stood before kings and presidents and rebuked them to their face for the horror of abortion, injustice and lack of support for the poor. No wilting violet was she!
What creates such people as Gandhi, Mother Theresa or a Martin Luther King, Jr.? Are there more of them still among us?
I believe those great people mentioned and others like them were driven by love for people and country and also by hatred. Love is, and has always been, the greatest motivation for such people. But hand in hand with love is hatred for oppression, injustice, intolerance and prejudice. When others would not lower themselves to touch the dying diseased in the gutters of Calcutta, Mother Theresa not only touched them but cradled them, though they were covered with filth and oozing sores, as they died.
Love for our country is growing rarer these days. Perhaps it is because we are such a conglomerate of languages and traditions that it is hard to identify ourselves as a people any longer. Perhaps it is because we have lost faith in our leadership and moral compass as a nation and our dissatisfaction and disillusionment is at a fever pitch. Whatever the cause, I see few who carry the passion of a Gandhi for his nation. I say few, for there are some and I met some on my African journey.
My mind recalls names and faces of these people: Japheth, Alfred, Dayo, Joseph, Francoise, Romeo, Atta, Amelework, Jeanet, John, Andrew, Anthony, Daniel, Emmanuel, Fran. I won’t give specific names in specific situations in order to provide some level of protection from persecution, but these people are similar to Gandhi and Mother Theresa in significant ways.
To you they are just a list of names, but to me I see their faces, hear their prayers, see their faith, recall their joyful worship and recall their laughter. They are spending their lives, quite literally, for the people of their country who don’t know Christ; who are the poorest of the poor, the lowly and oppressed.
Some have been marked for death (even having bounties placed on their lives) by radical Islam, but because of the plotters inability to pronounce one name correctly, the killers were unable to locate the person. That person laughs as they tell the story. I didn’t laugh as I heard it.
Another expects to be martyred in the next three years as radical Islamist factions push deeper into their country, and while they have the ability now to escape, they refuse to leave for the sake of the brothers and sisters of that country who need the inspiration and example that this person (and their spouse) can provide.
Are these people any less heroic or great than others from times past? I think not. I think they are examples for us all to look up to and emulate. They need our prayers and assistance, they need our encouragement.
While the 72 remain nameless and faceless, I encourage you to lift up the people I have mentioned, and countless others like them whose names you will never hear, whose faces you will not see on this earth. You will see them in heaven. They will be wearing crowns, and some may be numbered among the martyrs.
Galen Dalrymple works for Medical Ambassadors International (medicalambassadors.org) as the Field Curriculum Coordinator and lives in Northern California with his wife, Laurel, and yellow lab, Lucy. His passions are his family, photography, travel, and doing what he can to alleviate suffering and injustice as a call from Jesus.
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