A TRUE EXAMPLE OF LOVE
As Demonstrated by the Early Moravian Missionaries
Definition of Love: I desire God’s highest and best for the person I love and I am willing to suffer great personal sacrifice in order to make this possible.
Example of Love: The Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
The following is written by Robert McCheyne, 1813-1843 [Memoirs of McCheyne by Andrew A. Bonar, Moody Press, 1978 edition, pages 40-41]:
The most striking example of self-devotedness in the cause of Christ of which I ever heard in these days of deadness, was told here last week by an English minister. It has never been printed, and therefore I will relate it to you, just as I heard it, to stir up our cold hearts, that we may give ourselves to the Lord.
The awful disease of leprosy still exists in Africa. Whether it be the same leprosy as that mentioned in the Bible, I do not know, but it is regarded as incurable, and so infectious that no one dares to come near the leper. In the south of Africa there is a large lazarhouse for lepers. It is an immense space, enclosed by a very high wall, and containing fields, which the lepers cultivate. There is only one entrance, which is strictly guarded. Whenever anyone is found with the marks of leprosy upon him, he is brought to this gate and obliged to enter in, never to return. No one who enters in by that awful gate is ever allowed to come out again.
Within this abode of misery there are multitudes of lepers in all stages of the disease. Dr. Halbeck, a missionary of the Church of England, from the top of a neighboring hill, saw them at work. He noticed two particularly sowing peas in the field: The one had no hands, the other had no feet—these members being wasted away by disease. The one who wanted [lacked] the hands was carrying the other who wanted [lacked] the feet upon his back, and he again carried in his hands the bag of seed, and dropped a pea every now and then, which the other pressed into the ground with his foot; and so they managed the work of one man between the two. Ah! how little we know of the misery that is in the world! Such is this prisonhouse of disease.
But you will ask, who cares for the souls of the hapless inmates? Who will venture to enter in at this dreadful gate, never to return again? Who will forsake father and mother, houses and land, to carry the message of a Saviour to these poor lepers? Two Moravian missionaries, impelled by a divine love for souls, have chosen the lazarhouse as their field of labor. They entered it never to come out again; and I am told that as soon as these die, other Moravians are quite ready to fill their place. Ah! my dear friends, may we not blush, and be ashamed before God, that we, redeemed with the same blood, and taught by the same Spirit, should yet be so unlike these men in vehement, heart-consuming love to Jesus and the souls of men?
Robert Sumner, editor of The Biblical Evangelist, after reading McCheyne's account, added this note:
I visited a leper colony one time about an hour's drive into the jungle out of Manous, about 1000 miles up the Amazon. The pastor had been cured and there after a cure you could leave. His wife, however, was a hopeless case and he refused to leave because he wouldn't leave her.
That was love, too!
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