NASHVILLE, TN (BP) – Maybe you've seen a missionary cry.
Interviewing a missionary in Ecuador some years back, my heart was gripped when he spoke through tears of the persecution experienced by the indigenous people he worked among in the Andean mountains.
It was midday, we were in a cold, dark room. All I could do was sit there and dig for empathy within my soul as he cried.
In a conference more recently, I saw a husband and wife, missionaries to Russia, cry as they described their love for the people they had served.
I had regarded the Russians as communist enemies, people who spoke a distinct language that often burst forth from deep in their chest or the back of their throat.
And they wore furry hats.
Those notions suddenly became an embarrassing caricature in my brain. Through these missionaries' tears, I began to see Russians as real people who, for decades, labored under a governmental system that sought to deny them any precious opportunity to encounter the living Lord.
And just the other day, I saw another couple, missionaries to Malawi for more than 20 years, cry over the country they had left behind as they adjusted to retirement.
The burning desire to share Christ was still aflame in their saddened souls -- souls that remained, in large part, in Africa.
Isn't this something marvelous about the Cooperative Program that should stir us as Southern Baptists to profound gratitude to the Lord? Through CP, and through our missions offerings, we send passionate missionaries to the world's masses who join with local believers in rural villages and towns and in urban centers to share a wondrously redemptive faith.
And thankfully, these missionaries are known to cry with burdened hearts -- and joyous hearts -- for the missionary calling which we facilitate through the Cooperative Program.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Art Toalston, now a freelance writer, was an editor with Baptist Press for more than 25 years.