Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). I often wonder as I consider the lack of potency in much of evangelical missions if the problem rests in our attempt to find our life by the pursuit of prestige and status rather than losing our life completely in Christ. Robert Murray McCheyne wrote: “Why is a missionary life so often an object of my thoughts. Is it simply for the love I bear to souls? Then, why do I not show it more where I am? Souls are as precious here as in Burma. Does the romance of the business not weigh anything with me?—the interest and esteem I would carry with me?—the nice journals and letters I should write and receive? … Am I wholly deceiving my own heart? And have I not a spark of true missionary zeal?”*

When Paul was converted, he gave up his possessions, his title, and his position in order to serve Christ. He considered all those things to be worthless refuse—dung.  We have visited with tribes in Africa who live in dung huts. Western culture sneers at such housing, and yet there is a lesson we can learn from dung huts. From a spiritual perspective, even our two-story, four-bedroom house with all its modern comforts is no more than a dung hut.

Oh, what emphasis and importance we have attributed to these “things.” Are we even willing to allow God to bring us to a place of dispassionate detachment from material things? Could we exchange the comforts of a home in the States for a dung hut in a strange land?

Consider the statement of missionary Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Nate Saint, a missionary pilot who was with Jim Elliot, said, “I would rather die now than to live a life of oblivious ease in so sick a world.”

Let us learn from the parable of the rich man who thought to himself: “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19–21).

*Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1844), p. 24.

Steve Hafler is a missionary with Gospel Fellowship Association Missions. He and his family serve in Nairobi, Kenya.


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