"In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit."
2 Corinthians 6:4-6
Helen Roseveare is a short, no-nonsense Irish doctor with steely blue eyes and a wry wit. When I met her in 1994, she was a spry seventy and reminded me of a favorite elderly aunt or grandmother. Just looking at her, one would not guess that she had spent the better part of her life serving Christ as a medical missionary in Zaire (now the Congo)or that she had been beaten and raped repeatedly by rebels during the Simba Rebellion in the early 1960s. Despite her incredible suffering and subsequent emotional breakdown, she managed to come back to work and accomplish amazing things for Christ in the jungle of that land.
I was in Kenya interviewing her for a radio program. As she spoke of her horrible experience with the rebels, a thunderstorm passed overhead and rain pounded on the tin roof of the cottage. When she was finished, she said, "I'll have nightmares tonight from this."
I said, "I would ever have asked you for an interview if I had known it would have this effect on you."
She dismissed my remark with a short wave of her hand: "No, no. The Lord told me that if I'm going to tell this story, I can't be like a phonograph record. I'll have to feel each time I tell it."
Then she said something incredible: "People would ask me, 'Was it worth all the sufferingwhat you accomplished there?' And I'd tell them, no, it's been too costly. All I got done doesn't offset what I paid personally.
"But then the Lord spoke to me. He said, 'Helen, that's the wrong question. The questions is not, Was it worth it? The question is, Am I worthy?' And I said, 'Of course you are, Lord. You are worthy.'"
I was talking that day with a woman set right side up, her head in heaven and her feet planted firmly on the earth.
Do I believe that such devotion is really attainable by "ordinary" Christians? If so, what am I doing about it? If not, how can I open myself up to God's refining work?
Father, thank you for the example of godly leaders such as Helen Roseveare. Help me not merely to admire them from afar but to be inspired by them to follow your example.
"All the holy men seem to have gone off and died. There's no one left but us sinners to carry on the ministry."
Jamie Buckingham, author
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