Monday, June 13, 2005

On This Day in Scottish History - June 12th (Birth of James Gilmour - Apostle to Mongolia)

In my occasional posts on important events in Scottish history, I want to focus where I can on Christian themes - things that may not be important to many out there, but in the eternal scheme of things are perhaps more important than we may think. So today I note the borth in 1843 on June 12th of James Gilmour, often called the Apostle to Mongolia.

James Gilmour trusted Christ as a child in a home of godly parents, and excelled at school. While he loved his home of Scotland (he was born near Glasgow), God put a burden for Mongolia on his heart, and in 1870, he sailed to spend the rest of his life seeking to share the Gospel with the Mongolians. In his first 14 years, learning the language, culture, and living on an average of 6 cenets a day, Gilmour saw only one person converted. Things never got much better, and writing in his diary of a later 8 month period, he noted "preached to 24,000 people, treated 7,500 patients, distributed 10,000 books and tracts...and out of all this there are only two men who have openly confessed Christ." Yet he continued on, dying at the age of 47 from Typhus continuing the task that God had burdened him with. On reviewing his famous book, Among the Mongols, one critic wrote of Gilmour: "If ever on earth there lived a man who kept the law of Christ, and could give proof of it, and be absolutely unconscious that he was giving it to them, it is this man whom the Mongols called 'our Gilmour."

I'd encourage reading the materials about Gilmour I list below, but for me the most remarkable thing his life speaks to me is of persistence and commitment. We live in a results-driven society, and numbers are the big thing. Who can get the most converts, whose got the biggest church, and so on. Over twenty years work, and Gilmour saw very few commit to his Master - 1 in the first 14 years would perhaps be enough to have all support withdrawn from him in these days, sad to say. Yet his life, and his example speak to us of determinism and faithfulness that is seldom seen in our day, certainly in our "advanced" western countries.

May it be that God would turn our hearts back to him, that we may know the faithfulness and devotion of James Gilmour and others, and that we may look through the lens of eternity at our lives and world.

For more go to: James Gilmour: Online Biographies


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