The unoccupied fields of the world await those who are willing to be lonely for the sake of Christ. To the pioneer missionary the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles when He showed them His hands and His feet come with special force —
Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” – John 20:21
He came into the world and it was a great unoccupied mission field.
He came to that which was His own [that which belonged to Him—His world, His creation, His possession], and those who were His own [people—the Jewish nation] did not receive and welcome Him. – John 1:11
He came and His welcome was derision, His life, suffering, His throne, and the Cross.
The pioneer missionary, in overcoming obstacles and difficulties, has the privilege not only knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection, but also something of the fellowship of His suffering. For the people of Tibet or Somaliland, Mongolia or Afghanistan, Arabia or Nepal, the Sudan or Abyssinia, they may be called to say with Paul —
Now I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf. And with my own body I [a]supplement whatever is lacking [on our part] of Christ’s afflictions, on behalf of His body, which is the church. – Colossians 1:24
What is it but the glory of the impossible!
For the ambition to reach out from centres already occupied to regions beyond, even when those very centres are undermanned and in need of reinforcement, is not Quixotic or fantastic, but truly apostolic.
Accordingly I set a goal to preach the gospel, not where Christ’s name was already known, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but [instead I would act on this goal] as it is written [in Scripture],
“They who had no news of Him shall see,
And they who have not heard [of Him] shall understand.” – Romans 15:20-21
Paul wrote this when leaving a city as important as Corinth, and goes on to state that this is the reason he did not yet visit Rome, but that he hopes to do so on his way to Spain.