A Love for Missions Starts at Home

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

There is a relationship between the sermon series that just ended at Bethlehem concerning our vision for the next generation and the book I just finished writing on the missionary sacrifices of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton.

When Iain Murray gives an account of the “rise of the missionary spirit” in Scotland in the 1800's he comments that “a new zeal to take the gospel to the world was born out of a new experience of its power.” Then he draws attention to the connection between the renewed homelife and the missionary upsurge:

Friends, parents, neighbors first it will embrace
Our country next, and next the human race.

The Gospel does affect homes first. In Scotland it led to a type of home life and family religion fitted to produce young men and women whose great interest was the service of Christ.... [John Paton’s] autobiography provides an unforgettable account of the prayerfulness of his father...

The Lowland cotter’s lad cherished and guarded in his heart the spell of his father’s habit of communion with God, and the vision of his mother’s absorbed passion to win her children to see fear and love the Most High. These were his main equipment in life. No science can produce them; no money can purchase them.

One of the most remembered sounds of Patton’s childhood was his father’s voice, at family worship, as “he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the heathen world to the service of Jesus.” The thatched cottage of the Patons was only one of many such nurseries. Most of the Scottish missionaries came from homes and backgrounds where simple living, hard work, many sacrifices and earnest devotion were the every day experiences of youth. (A Scottish Christian Heritage, 222-223)