Advantages Call Us to Action :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Advantages Call Us to Action

Bill Knipe
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A black scorpion the size of my hand was by our feet. A puffer adder was spotted by the entryway of the guest house. Foot-long millipedes, dust blinding our eyes, and 112°F weather welcomed us when my family recently traveled to Kuruman, South Africa. We made the 12-hour drive from our home to see the Robert Moffat mission station, which was founded in the early 1800s. Images from the biographies of Moffat’s faithful ministry filled my mind.

Moffat traveled for many days to make the same journey we had just driven in an air-conditioned van on smooth roads with rest stops between. He endured long, sun-sweltering days of constant jostling as he trekked through the desert. In his letters Moffat wrote of poisonous snakes and rhinos charging the path and chasing his ox-drawn cart down the rugged terrain until the wheels were damaged. He often interceded for enemy tribes to prevent war and negotiated with kidnappers to obtain freedom for innocent victims. He befriended a man who had a price on his head for a murder committed in Cape Town.

Despite the many trials and difficulties, Moffat obeyed the command to GO. If he was willing to follow the Great Commission, how could I not go, considering my many advantages? Three main advantages come to mind.

Ease of Travel

Leaving our parents and Christian family in the States to serve in Africa was one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Knowing we would miss holidays, birthdays, and the possibility of wonderful memories together made the parting even more difficult. However, after a couple of years on the mission field, the Lord blessed us with the ability to chat with family via social media.

Moffat went to Africa without a wife. Considering the vast distance he had traveled, growing a relationship with his future helpmeet would be nearly impossible without the Lord’s help. After marrying his wife, he often did not see his beloved children for many months while they were in boarding school.

Moffat, like Hudson Taylor, made the arduous trip by boat across the ocean with no guarantee of ever again seeing his loved ones on earth. Hudson Taylor described the feeling as mourning at the funeral when he parted from his dear mother.

With the convenience of travel today, we have access to nearly any country in the world. In mere days we can travel to see loved ones and return to the mission field. We may think airplane seats are tight and uncomfortable and that airline food is not the best, but those seats seem plush compared to Moffat’s ox-drawn cart on dusty and dangerous paths. He would often be in a desperate search of water in the scorching heat. How can I stay in my comfort zone when the journeys are comparatively easy? People around the world are in great need of the Gospel, and I have the ability to reach them. 

Ease of Language Tools

Moffat devoted much of his life to translating the Bible, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and songs into Tswana. Much time was dedicated to language learning when he first arrived on the African continent. Accurately translating words such as sin, redemption, condemnation, and forgiveness into Tswana must have taken much thought.

How easy we have it! At a local shop, a volunteer car guard recently approached me for a tip for his unsolicited car guarding. As I handed him a Gospel tract in Afrikaans, I was immediately aware that he spoke neither Afrikaans nor English. Through a process of elimination, I determined he knew French. I took out my phone and typed an English message of salvation into Google Translate. Poof! out came French. As he began to read the message out loud, a smile beamed across his face. Instant regret sprung into my mind as I thought he was smiling because he thought I was giving him my phone. I was relieved when he patted his heart, nodded his head in agreement, and handed my phone back to me. It wasn’t a thorough conversation, but in five minutes I could communicate the basic gospel message with him in his own language.

Of course, learning a foreign language is difficult, though it is essential. However, given all the resources available with modern technology, communication in foreign languages is greatly accelerated. While much work is still being done to translate the Bible into various languages, so much has been accomplished already by gifted people such as Moffat. How can we remain silent when so many people need to hear the Gospel? Surely with all the language tools available today, we have no excuse.

Ease of Handling Finances

As Moffat made the trek across southern Africa, he endured the constant threat of having his food, possessions, and even his means of transportation stolen. He was often at the mercy of hospitable farmers who would give him a meal and an overnight stay. Money sent to him from supporters could not simply be wired to him. On the other hand, today many fields have ATMs and cell phone apps to provide immediate control of bank accounts. I have stood by thatched-roof huts in Zambia and paid bills through my cell phone. We are eternally grateful for our mission board and their labor of love to make our finances available quickly. With all the ease and accessibility of travel, language tools, and finances, we cannot be lethargic. To whom much is given, much more will be required. We must go!