For Christ’s Sake And The Gospel’s
By Lois J. Stucky
Against the background of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s helpful lead article with its excellent exposition of the story of Hannah and Samuel, may I relate a modern-day "Hannah and Samuel" story which appeared in Alliance Life, written by Jessica Schaeffer? It occurred in Burkina Faso, West Africa, one of the world’s poorest countries. The infant mortality rate is high there. A Christian couple had been saddened by the deaths of their first two infant sons, who did not survive the harsh conditions into which they were born. Now the mother was unable to nurse the third son born to them. With their meager resources they managed to purchase a bottle, but they had not the means to buy the milk, and clean water was not available. How could their weak little baby survive? They hired a nursing mother to breastfeed their baby, but the little son remained frail and sickly.
The parents knew that in the natural, there was little chance for his survival, but in faith they named him Samuel, believing that God was able to hear their prayers for him to live. Like Hannah of old, they dedicated the little son to God, to serve Him all the days of his life.
Early in life little Samuel grew to love the Lord, and he made the decision to believe in Jesus and to follow Him. Samuel’s parents worked hard and made sacrifices so their son could learn to read and write. As Jessica Schaeffer writes: "As Samuel grew, he understood that his life, both physical and spiritual, was a gift from God. He also realized that his response to this divine love could be nothing less than total devotion to the Lord." Sensing the Lord’s call to ministry, he enrolled in a Bible institute that took him away from home in his teens. Amid his mother’s tears to see her young son leave home, Samuel reminded her gently of how she had dedicated him to serve God, and God had given him life and health to do so, and he had a heart set on doing God’s will. Though it was difficult, this modern-day "Hannah" came to rejoice that her son was going to serve the Lord. The precious gift given to the parents was given back to God.
Samuel worked hard to learn all he could about God and His Word. After twenty years passed, he became the president of the Christian Alliance Church of Burkina Faso, overseeing eleven church districts. Under Samuel’s godly leadership, the churches have developed good programs for reaching out to fellow countrymen for Christ, and for the betterment of conditions under which they live. Samuel’s vision is for still greater growth under the blessing of God, who had worked so mightily on his behalf throughout his life. Another nation has been blessed greatly by a Samuel.
Until the end of this age there is need for "Hannahs" who put God’s plan and His glory ahead of their own desires and longings, and who exercise faith and fervent prayer that God will work miracles if need be to get His will done. The leaders of tomorrow’s Church, if Jesus tarries, are youngsters in our homes today. Among them are "Samuels" who are learning at their mothers’ knees to know and love and worship God. Loving and devout "Hannahs" are releasing their treasured children to God and to His service, regardless of the sword that may pierce their own hearts as a result. Thank God for you parents and grandparents who realize these children belong to God and who are giving yourselves to train them carefully for His purposes. God keep you faithful to Him and to the children in this noble endeavor!
"Christ Is All and in All" (Colossians 3:11)
The need is not only to teach our youth about Christ, but to lead them to know Christ as their all and in all. Parents, grandparents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders – all of us who have relationships with children and youth – can help not only to shepherd them into the fold of the Good Shepherd, but, as one writer expresses it, into an "unconquerable love" for Him as well. Might we be enabled to lead them early in life to know Christ as their all in all, in whom is life abundant. What good plans God has for each young person! But how Satan counters God’s good plan! The devil comes to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). (An example of that is found in a recent report saying that in this country, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 26, and the second leading cause among college age young people. How tragically God’s good plan is thwarted in these lives by the devil!)
Of course, we cannot teach others what we do not know ourselves. Charles Finney’s article on page 7 gives helpful pointers in avoiding one key snare of the devil – relying on our own resolve to overcome sin and bondage, rather than identifying by faith with Christ in His death and resurrection, and putting on Christ as our victory over sin, and as our very life. Many of us wish we had been taught this earlier in life and had been spared some stumbling and some bondages. Young "Samuels" need to be led in the right path in this hour when, increasingly, immorality, drugs and like evils bombard on every hand. Christ is our life, our all and in all, our sanctification, our victory, and infinitely more, as we deny ourselves and take His life as our own.
Jesus, the Bread of Life
The day after Jesus miraculously fed about five thousand men besides women and children with five barley loaves and two small fishes, He gave them the teaching that He Himself is the "bread of life" (John 6:35,48,51). Mention is made of the manna, which was the main sustenance with which God fed the multitude that wandered in the wilderness for forty years. God was gracious to give manna a pleasant taste, like "wafers made with honey." But the manna and the people who ate it perished long ago. Jesus, "the true bread from heaven" is sweeter by far! And partaking of Him, we have everlasting life (John 6:40,51). What a transformed life we have in Christ, lived in daily communion with Him! What a wonderful story we have to tell to our children, and to the nations!
Publishing Words of Eternal Life
Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Sadly, after this discourse in which Jesus spoke of His followers eating His flesh and drinking His blood, as symbolic of our dwelling in Him and He in us, many of His followers were offended and followed Him no more. But all who partake of His life, who believe and receive Him and His words, hunger and thirst no more (John 6:35).
Here at Herald of His Coming it is our fervent desire that God’s Word will be spirit and life to the readers as we send it forth, leading readers to the "true bread." About two-thirds of the Herald papers go outside the U.S.A., most of them to countries where hungry hearts welcome them warmly. They help provide blessed sustenance to many, among whom are young "Samuels." It is a great privilege to help build up the Body of Christ, to prepare her for the coming of her exalted Head. Abounding sin and long delay before Christ’s return tend to make us let down on our watchfulness. From sincere hearts come letters saying they need the Herald’s stirring messages; they want to keep awake. They want to keep the fire for revival burning in their hearts. They want to flee the temptation to drift back into the world or into a state of coldness.
Dear friends, how we need your prayers with us that Herald of His Coming will ever be an anointed voice, that will awaken, quicken, and incite faith for God to come and do His mighty works. It is as we unite and focus our prayers that God’s power is released. And it is the gifts of our reading friends which send the messages on their way. Ordinarily once or twice a week, ten to twenty mail bags are packed full and picked up by a mailing company in addition to packages taken to the local post office, setting forth on their journey with the life-giving messages from God’s Word.
One letter that crossed my desk recently was from a pastor in Zambia who had been reading the Herald received by friends, but now wants his own copy. He writes: "Please, I am requesting so that I may read and teach more on revival, with the view to promote revival in the Church, because I am involved in church planting and world mission." Thank God for the scope of influence which that Herald will have in the hand of this zealous brother, and many like him!
We endeavor to be economical in our operations here at headquarters, and friends such as this pastor make possible a further economical spreading of the messages. One life aflame can light many others. Above all, it is the Spirit of God, freely given in answer to prayer, whose workings empower the messages above what we could ask or think! Our warm thanks to all friends who unite their efforts with ours in willing service to our mighty God! To Him be the glory!