You need to read this letter if you’re a missionary or a pastor of a missionary!
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote the letter to a new missionary to north Africa named Patrick. It appears that he may have been the first missionary from the Pastor’s College Missionary Association.
As a missionary myself I found the content to be remarkably true, thoroughly practical, and solidly grounded in God’s Word.
(I found the letter below in this book)
Dr. Mr. Patrick,
I rejoice at the ways cleared for you going to north Africa. As a brother looking to our own funds for support you are the first representative of the foreign mission of the college, and I am the more earnest that you should lead the way gloriously. I am sure from your personal character, and from your course in college that I may place unlimited confidence in you; and far more is my confidence in the Lord whom you and I unitedly serve with our whole hearts. He will help you to play the man. A blend of zeal, patience, and wisdom will be needed in the mission so new, dealing with such a peculiar people.
You believe that the gospel will meet the need of any creature in the form of man, whether Jew or Gentile, Mahometan or heathen. You will keep wholly and only to the cross. There hangs our hope, as well as the hope of those to whom we go. Hammer away with the old gospel; and let those who like it use the miserable wooden mallet of mere reason. The Lord will be with you. Take special care to be much with HIM. Without the means of grace in the lone land as you will probably ere long, ‘give attention to reading’ the one and only book, and be often carried away to heaven on the wings of prayer and meditation.
Write us often that you may keep up the interest of the brethern, and of my constituency in the glorious work. Be of good courage while you are dumb and the language of the people, and feel the fire burning within with the power to let its heat warm the people. Carry your daily worries to your master and they will not be worries. Aspire to be another ‘Patrick’– The apostle of north Africa, as he was of Ireland.
On your head may the Holy Spirit pour of the anointing oil and may you often be constrained to sing as I do, –
Oh to grace how great the debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be.
God himself bless you
Yours in Christ Jesus,
C. H. Spurgeon
A few observations
Below are a few of my personal observations about this letter. If you know me, you know how much I value good communication. Personal communication is just as vital as public and it seems Spurgeon did well in both.
- Spurgeon took the time to do what few pastors do today; write personal letters to missionaries! This shows the value he placed on missionary work and upon the missionaries themselves. He knew it was not easy and he knew they would need his encouragement.
- Always an encourager, Spurgeon spurred Patrick on to great work with a clear vote of confidence in his character, however he did not let this confidence in Patrick over-shadow his confidence in the Lord in whom Patrick would also need to have full confidence as a missionary.
- Knowing the work would not be easy, he didn’t paint a rosy picture for Patrick but rather told him he would need a blend of zeal, patience, and wisdom. How vital are each of these for a new missionary.
- Spurgeon quickly turns Patrick’s attention to the centrality of the gospel and the importance of the depth of his own faith in the gospel. It’s so easy to lose this gospel focus even as a missionary you can be distracted by the activity of ministry and forget the centrality of the gospel.
- Before exhorting Patrick to preach the gospel to others he encourages him to personally stay close to the cross. How many missionaries have lost their effectiveness in ministry and passion for the gospel because they have not stayed close to the cross in their private lives! We missionaries need this reminder!
- Spurgeon gives both encouraging truths “The Lord will be with you!” and indispensable exhortations, “Take special care to be much with him!”
- Personal Bible reading and prayer found a key place in Spurgeon’s encouragement. How often it is the lack or the weakness of these two that bring a missionary down.
- Missionaries can’t afford not to communicate and Spurgeon knew this was imperative for long-term support and success of the mission.
- Spurgeon knew language learning could possibly be one of the greatest discouragements in missionary life, he encouraged Patrick to allow his gospel passion for the people he was serving be the greatest motivation in language learning; a fire that would warm others!
- It’s often the little daily worries that pile up into unmoved, unbearable, unprayed-over mountains of ministry planning, people problems, and stressful situations. Oh how missionaries must learn to pray these over into the hands of our powerful and able God!
- Finally Spurgeon gives an example of his own personal worship as a sinful soul saved by grace. He encourages Patrick to do the same, singing to God in the power of the Holy Spirit. We need missionaries that have personal private worship of God which burns within their souls daily!
A word to pastors
Please take this letter from Spurgeon as a fine example of how you can personally encourage, exhort, and help missionaries who are under your care and who receive your support. We missionaries need more pastors who write this way!
A word to missionaries
Please take this letter to heart, as the encouragements and exhortations given are vital to your spiritual health, your success in ministry, and your ongoing financial support!