Consecrated Lives from the Past Still Speak :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Consecrated Lives from the Past Still Speak

Alan Patterson
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Missionary life demands full consecration. Without it, faithful, effective missionary service is a drudgery, impossible to sustain. With it, missionary service is the greatest life on earth! The lives of the following choice servants exemplify some of the many-sided characteristics of true consecration.

Consecration includes everything.

The apostle Paul set the enduring example of consecration. He could truthfully say as he contemplated his trials and possible martyrdom awaiting him: “None of these things move me.”  He was determined to “finish his course with joy” (Acts 20:24). Challenging his full consecration was not only physical affliction and persecution, but also the depression that can come from uncertainty about converts (2 Corinthians 7: 5-6). Despite these challenges, he let “none” of those things deter him from finishing “the ministry” which he had “received of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:24c). Is there anything that could move you from consecration? 

Consecration earns the respect of other believers.

You have no doubt heard of the Pilgrims, but have you heard of John Eliot? Well-known Puritan pastor Richard Baxter said about John Eliot, “There was no man on earth whom I honored above him.” What about Eliot’s consecration had such an impact on Baxter? Eliot_Bible_in_Algonquin.bmp Though not on the Mayflower, Eliot came to America only a decade or so after the Pilgrims landed in 1620. He was a well-educated man, a graduate of Cambridge University. Consumed with a passion for the free and pure worship of God, Eliot also burned with zeal not only to evangelize but to disciple the American Indians. Soon after his arrival in the Boston area, he began to preach to the colonists, and he also penetrated the surrounding wilderness to preach to the Indians. He spent much of his time going to their villages, learning their language, evangelizing, catechizing, establishing churches, and translating the entire Bible into their language. The printing press was on the site of the Harvard campus. Thanks to his skill and efforts, the first Bible printed in America was not in English but was his translation into the Algonquin language. It sounds unbelievable, but all the while he was evangelizing, catechizing, translating, and traveling to the Indian “praying towns,” as they eventually were called, he also pastored a church for the English-speaking colonists—and he pastored that church for 56 years!  No wonder Richard Baxter in England held him in such high esteem. What impact does your consecration have on other believers?

Consecration wants something—anything—to do for the Lord and to do it “good.”

Most people think of Adoniram Judson as America’s first foreign missionary, but another man could legitimately be given that honor. A monument in the courtyard of First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, reads: “Rev. George Lisle, The First Baptist Modern Foreign Missionary, Born in VA. 1750, Ordained in GA, 1775, Sailed to B.W.I. 1782.”  Who is this George Lisle, or Leile as his name is more commonly spelled? He was born a slave but attended with his owner a church in Burke County, Georgia. While listening to the sermon, he came under great conviction and found that the only way to escape hell was through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. He explains the result: “[this] caused me to make intercession with Christ for the salvation of my poor, immortal soul … I requested of my Lord and Master to give me a work. I did not care how mean it was, only to try and see how good I would do it.” 1  After his conversion God did give him a work to do of preaching, and he did it well. From his preaching many were saved, including Andrew Bryan who became the pastor of the church in Savannah. When Leile’s master died, his master’s children threatened to again enslave him. This led him to take the opportunity in 1782 to indenture himself to a British colonel who was moving to Jamaica, as the British in the 1780s were vacating America. In Jamaica Leile functioned both as a manual laborer and as a missionary. Through his zealous efforts hundreds of Jamaicans were won to Christ and Baptist churches were started there. Though not sent officially as a missionary as Judson had been around 30 years later, Leile had an amazingly effective ministry. To this day Baptists are strong and numerous in Jamaica. God gave this dear man a work to do, and he did it “good.” If your consecration was measured by how readily and how well you did even “mean” work, how would it rate? 

A missionary wife must also consecrate herself to the missionary calling.

It was a cold, snowy, February day in 1812, the day after Adoniram and Ann Judson were married. On this day, a historic meeting for ordaining America’s first official foreign missionaries was held at TabernaclAnn_Judson.bmpe Church in Salem, MA. The excitement was electric. The church was packed with well over 1,000 people as they gathered to witness a first in the history of American Christianity. Five men knelt across the front of the auditorium as Congregationalist ministers laid hands on them, commissioning them for foreign missionary service. As this was happening, Ann Judson slipped from her pew and went to kneel near the men. She was publicly indicating that she too was consecrating her life to the missionary calling. History and experience have shown that for the missionary couple, the wife’s full consecration is just as critical as her husband’s. Ann and Adoniram set an enduring example for all missionary couples. Wives, are you as consecrated as your husband to this calling?   

Consecration commits marriage (or not) to God’s will.

Henry Martyn was a great scholar and quite capable of recording his experiences as a single missionary serving under the Church of England’s missionary arm, the Church Missionary Society. However, he had not wanted to remain single. Before leaving for his assignment in India, he had met Lydia Grenfell and fallen in love with her. While on the field, he often wrote to Lydia. To his disappointment, she wrote less often to him. In one of those early letters, Martyn asked Lydia to marry him. To his sadness she did not answer for many months, and in the end she refused the offer. Therefore, in Martyn’s case, consecration meant utilizing an amazing skill in painstaking Bible translation work in hostile religious cultures. It also meant—and this may have been even more challenging—committing marriage to God’s will. Though Martyn and Lydia exchanged letters during his short missionary career, he never saw Lydia again after departing for the field. He died at the age of 31 in Tokat, Turkey, from a recurring fever, but his example of consecration to his missionary calling lives on. Paul, David Brainerd, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, Lilias Trotter, Henry Martyn, and countless others have lived fruitful lives of consecrated singleness by the will of God. Is God perhaps calling you to a single life in His service?  Are you content with that as consecration requires?


1 Mark Sidwell, Free Indeed: Heroes of Black Christian History (Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2001), 24-25.