Be a Servant
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.
All of us like to go to a restaurant and be served with a tasty meal. Few of us want to spend 40 hours a week working in a restaurant, serving others. When I was in Bible college, I worked at McDonalds in Joplin, Missouri, for about two years. To me, it really was not a job. I did need the money, but I enjoyed the work. However, the part I liked most was eating the food at break time. Sometimes at closing, there was leftover food, and the manager allowed me to take it to the dorm for my friends. I did not mind serving people their meals, but eating it was even better.
A time should come in a Christian’s life when he enjoys serving others more than being served himself. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, and we could apply His Word this way in being a servant: Serve others the way you want to be served.
People take it for granted that a missionary is some saintly person who never has a selfish thought. Missionaries of course, know the truth. While we may be giving up our homeland, it does not always mean that we do not desire to be served once we are on the field. But it only in serving that people who need Christ will see Christ in our lives.
In 1895, a great Muslim rebellion broke out in northwest China. It was in a region where the only missionaries were those of the China Inland Mission. News came to Hudson Taylor that Rev. Robert Stewart, his wife, their small child, and eight others were murdered. Up to this point, only a few of their missionaries had been murdered—and never a woman or a child. The eight workers were mainly young, single ladies.
Near the border of Tibet, the city of Sining was overrun by the Moslems. Another C.I.M. missionary named Ridley, his wife, small child, and another missionary named Hall, all lived there. They were the only foreigners in the entire city.
Dr. Howard Taylor, in his biography of his father, Hudson Taylor, records the terrible scene and how the three brave missionaries served others in need.
Ten thousand Muhammadans lived in the suburbs round the city, and it was a terrible night when, contrary to vows and protestations, they turned upon their Chinese neighbours, and amid scenes of fearful carnage threw in their lot with the rebels. Already the city was filled with refugees and the missionaries were working night and day to care for the wounded. Led by a beggar who knew the healing virtue of their medicines, they had found in the Confucian temple hundreds of women and children who had made their escape from burning villages and the horrors perpetrated by their enemies. Groans and wailing were heard on every hand and in the twilight of that summer evening they saw a mass of suffering that was appalling. Burned from head to foot and covered with fearful sword-cuts, scores of these poor creatures lay dying with not a hand to help them, for no one would go near even with food and water.
Then the missionaries understood why they had felt so definitely that they ought to stay on in the city, when they might have made good their escape. This was the work for which they were needed, the work that was to open hearts to the Gospel as years of preaching had not done. With heroic courage they gave themselves to the task, and throughout all that followed never ceased their ministrations. Amid scenes passing conception they cared for the wounded of both sides. First in the seven months of Muhammadan frenzy, when the Chinese were falling before them in thousands, then in still more awful months of Chinese retaliation. With no surgical instruments but a pen-knife and hardly any appliances but such as could be obtained on the spot, they performed hundreds of operations, and treated over 1,000 cases of diphtheria not to speak of the dressing of wounds that occupied them from early morning till late at night. Neither Ridley nor Hall had had medical training, and though Mrs. Ridley was experienced in sickness she was not a qualified nurse. Operations without chloroform that would have daunted many a strong man she bravely took her part in, and they never once lost a life by cutting an artery in the extractions of bullets, etc.
Their servant’s hearts made a difference as Dr. Taylor concludes:
Almost two years in all the fearful business lasted, 80,000 people being actually massacred, not to speak of soldiers killed in battle or frozen upon the mountains. But through it all the missionaries stayed at their pos t. Proving themselves the friends of Chinese and Muhammadans alike, and winning love and confidence that brought wonderful opportunities for the Gospel. All the country was open to them. Wherever they went they found known and unknown friends…
If we desire to reach the people God has led us to so far from home, then we will, when their hearts have been softened by a humble Christian who would prefer to serve, than to be served.
Taylor, Hudson Taylor, 335
Taylor, Hudson Taylor, 337