Dream word – PERSEVERE
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” NKJV
Building on the body line
I used to live maybe a 10-minute walk from the Sussex County Cricket ground. A long time ago I was also a wicket keeper, however, I only played this position because I found cricket to be one of the most boring games on the planet, please forgive me CT Studd, but I still do! At least behind the stumps, I found the adrenalin rush from a 6oz cricket ball being bowled at great speed towards you, kept you somewhat awake through all the boring proceedings and protocols. Yup, keeping yourself from getting hurt from a fast moving heavy object certainly kept your attention. That is unless you were a batsman like Australian born Don Bradman, from the small town Bowral in New South Wales, who in the 1932-33 Ashes series was subject to the infamous “bodyline tactics” of the English team, who frightened of defeat at the hands of the Australians, decided to bowl the cricket ball directly at Bradman rather than the wicket. Don Bradman, was such a threat to visiting English you see, that they had to get him out of the way. If it meant serious injury to him, then so be it.
Two years after the birth of Bradman, today in 1910, the small town of Bowral, NSW, also produced another famous son in the form of Dr Paul White, a missionary to Africa who became such a threat to the enemy of our souls, that he had to get him out of the way as quickly as possible as well.
Paul White had a tough up bringing after his father died of meningitis. Though Paul was only just 4 years of age when this happened His father, a soldier in the Boer War, had already planted seeds of the dark continent of Africa and the power of story-telling, through his tall tales of jumping Zulu warriors. Paul struggled badly with Asthma as a youngster and a broken arm, badly set as a child, also left him with weakness in his right arm which he would battle with all of his life. Still, aged 16 he became a Christian and despite being fatherless and encumbered with all these setbacks, his perseverance, exceptional sacrifice and hard work led him into training as a Doctor, marriage and eventually setting sail with his new wife to Africa.
His first wife Mary, who later died of Alzheimer’s disease, suffered chronic manic depressive psychosis for most of her life and was only kept sane in Africa by the use of dangerous and some believe very cruel, insulin shock therapy treatment. Eventually, Mary’s psychosis forced Dr Paul White to leave the mission field and return to Australia. His dreams were shattered.
Whilst trying to communicate the Gospel in Africa, Paul found his communicative ability to fall far short of what was necessary. Until that is, he investigated the culture, its folklore and storytelling prowess and inculcated this into his manner of communication. He found he better proclaimed the stories of Christ when he did so in this much more accessible parable form, which in Tanganyika (Tanzania), was far better received and understood by his hearers. However, now as he returned to Sydney with his very sick wife, it would appear that all his efforts had come to nothing. The bodyline tactics of the enemy had left this man, his family and his ministry in ruins. All was lost. All had been a waste.
It was during that long sail home after just three and half years on the mission field, that Paul occupied himself with turning his medical notes into a book entitled, Doctor of Tanganyika. Despite paper shortages during WWII the book was soon published and on the back of being a new and popular, published author, he was offered a radio station from which was birthed the famous, “Jungle Doctor” stories.
Paul took patient care of his poor wife before her death in 1970, and Mary, by then, had long ceased to recognise her husband Paul or their children. Paul himself whilst suffering from cancer, did in fact eventually die of a heart attack over dinner in 1992. Tough life. Yet like many of our lives, his was a troubled tapestry set in a slightly shining, silver frame, for his “Jungle Doctor”books, have been translated into over a hundred languages, transferred to audio and for many years have been in comic book form. His three and half most difficult years in Africa did in fact lead to millions hearing the Gospel throughout the whole world and now, though he is dead, Paul still speaks of his Saviour through these self same; Jungle Doctor stories, birthed under the constant duress of the bodyline tactics of the enemy. Maybe, just maybe, your work in the Lord is not in vain. What do you think?
Listen: “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy.” - Hebrews 11:35-38 NKJV
Pray: Lord, in taking the good examples of better people gone before, please help me, through the trials and twists of life to persevere in my calling, in Your great name I pray, amen!
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