I’ve ben reading “Memoirs of McCheyne”, by Andrew Bonar over the past couple of weeks, and I must say in my opinion it is a must read – particularly those who have a heart for missions. The book is out of print, but if you can find it, I promise you it will be a jewell, and shining star in your library of books. The book contains many letters that he had written to close friends while away on a missions trip focusing on reaching out to the Jewish people throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East in 1839-1840. The book also contains many of his messages given while pastoring in Dundee, Scotland. In a letter written to his church in Dundee while he was away on sick leave on March 6th, 1839, he writes of a beautiful story that was told to him. It really blessed me (I have a love for the stories of the Moravians, and truly look to them as missionary heroes!) So, I decided to type out the story to, Lord willing, be a blessing to those who would be reading this post. I pray that it encourages you to keep praying for a heart for the lost, like that of our Savior! Lord, please grant to me that heart!
“The most striking example of self-devotedness in the cause of Christ of which I ever heard in these days of deadness, was told to me last week by an English minister. It has never been printed (obviously before McCheyne wrote this letter about it in 1839), therefore I will relate it to you, just as I heard it, to stir up our cold hearts, that we may give ourselves to the Lord.
The awful disease of leprosy still exists in Africa. Whether it be the same leprosy as that mentioned in the Bible, I do not know but it is regarded as incurable, and so infectious that no one dares to come near the leper. In the South of Africa there is a large lazarhouse for lepers. It is an immense space, enclosed by a very high wall, and containing fields, which the lepers cultivate. There is only one entrance which is strictly guarded. Whenever anyone is found with the marks of leprosy upon him, he is brought to this gate and obliged to enter in, never to return. No one who enters in by the awful gate is ever allowed to come out again. Within this abode of misery there are multitudes of lepers in all stages of the disease. Dr. Halbeck, a missionary of the Church of England, from the top of a neighboring hill, saw them at work. He noticed two particularly sowing peas in the field. The one had no hands, and the other had no feet – these members being wasted away by the disease. The one who wanted the hands was carrying the other who wanted the feet upon his back, and he again carried in his hands the bag of seed, and dropped a pea every now and then, which the other pressed into the ground with his foot; and so they managed the work of one man between the two. Ah! How little we know of misery that is in the world! Such is this prison house of disease.
But you will ask, who cares for the souls of the hapless inmates? Who will venture to enter in at this dreadful gate, never to return again? Who will forsake father and mother, houses and land, to carry the message of a Savior to these poor lepers? Two Moravian missionaries, impelled by a divine love for souls, have chosen the lazarhouse as their field of labor. They entered it never to come out again; and I am told that as soon as they die, other Moravians are quite ready to fill their place.
Ah! My dear friends, may we not blush, and be ashamed before God, that we, redeemed with the same blood, and taught by the same Spirit, should yet be so unlike these men in vehement, heart-consuming love to Jesus and the souls of men?