An Exhortation to do Gospel Outreach
Hudson Taylor tells a heart touching story that he experienced and which serves for our exhortation to do more gospel outreach:
I went into the cabin of the boat to prepare tracts and books for distribution on landing with my Chinese friend, when suddenly I was startled by a splash and a cry from without. I sprang on deck, and took in the situation at a glance. Peter was gone! The other men were all there, on board, looking helplessly at the spot where he had disappeared, but making no effort to save him. A strong wind was carrying the junk rapidly forward in spite of a steady current in the opposite direction, and the low-lying, shrubless shore afforded no landmark to indicate how far we had left the drowning man behind.
I instantly let down the sail and leapt overboard in the hope of finding him. Unsuccessful, I looked around in agonising suspense, and saw close to me a fishing-boat with a peculiar drag-net furnished with hooks, which I knew would bring him up.
"Come!" I cried, as hope revived in my heart. "Come and drag over this spot directly; a man is drowning just here!"
"Veh bin" (It is not convenient), was the unfeeling answer.
"Don't talk of convenience!" cried I in an agony; "a man is drowning, I tell you!"
"We are busy fishing," they responded, "and cannot come."
"Never mind your fishing," I said, "I will give you more money than many a day's fishing will bring; only come — come at once!"
"How much money will you give us?"
"We cannot stay to discuss that now! Come, or it will be too late. I will give you five dollars" (then worth about thirty shillings in English money).
"We won't do it for that," replied the men. "Give us twenty dollars, and we will drag."
"I do not possess so much: do come quickly, and I will give you all I have!"
"How much may that be?"
“I don't know exactly, about fourteen dollars."
At last, but even then slowly enough, the boat was paddled over, and the net let down. Less than a minute sufficed to bring up the body of the missing man. The fishermen were clamorous and indignant because their exorbitant demand was delayed while efforts at resuscitation were being made. But all was in vain — life was extinct.
To myself this incident was profoundly sad and full of significance, suggesting a far more mournful reality. Were not those fishermen actually guilty of this poor Chinaman's death, in that they had the means of saving him at hand, if they would but have used them? Assuredly they were guilty. And yet, let us pause ere we pronounce judgment against them, lest a greater than Nathan answer, "Thou art the man."
Is it so hard-hearted, so wicked a thing to neglect to save the body? Of how much sorer punishment, then, is he worthy who leaves the soul to perish, and Cain-like says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The Lord Jesus commands, commands me, commands you, my brother, and you, my sister. "Go," says He, "go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Shall we say to Him, "No, it is not convenient"? Shall we tell Him that we are busy fishing and cannot go? That we have bought a piece of ground and cannot go? That we have purchased five yoke of oxen, or have married, or are engaged in other and more interesting pursuits, and cannot go? Ere long "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body."
Let us remember, let us pray for, let us labour for the unevangelised Chinese; or we shall sin against our own souls. Let us consider Who it is that has said, "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works.”
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