The Missing Ingredient?


July 2005

Dear Ministry Partners,

When I smuggled Bibles into China, I had lunch with an old Chinese woman they called "the Corrie Ten Boom of China". Mabel's grandfather was a pastor in Yanqing, China, in the late 1800's, just north of modern Beijing. In 1900, a rogue group called the Boxers decided to cleanse China of all foreign "pollution". That included slaughtering Christians, whether Chinese or foreign. Some Boxers apprehended Pastor Chen, his wife, a son, daughter, and co-worker. The Boxers dragged them to a local temple, and ordered them to renounce Christ by worshipping the idols. The family refused, knowing the cost. The Boxers robbed them, stripped them naked, and drove a sword through Chen's neck. His daughter ran into her mother's arms and was impaled together with her on a spear. Then all were hacked into pieces. (Note — the movie 55 Days in Peking featuring Charlton Heston can be rented which gives an inspiring and realistic portrayal of this Boxer rebellion in China.)

Such was Mabel's heritage. The man (Chen's son) who would be her future father was away at the time of his family's martyrdom, and so his life was spared. Seven years later, May 23, 1907, Mabel was born; but her father died just a few years later. Mabel's mother died when Mabel was only 12. More fortunate than most of the many orphan girls in China then and now, she was raised by relatives. These relatives sent her to a Christian school, where she excelled and also learned English. Despite her background, she was not yet a Christian. She explored Buddhism, Confucianism, and then Christianity. Mabel realized she too was a sinner and only Christ provided a solution! She trusted Christ as Savior and, as her favorite song says, there was "No turning back, no turning back!" She attended middle school through college with the future wife of Watchman Nee, and they remained friends the rest of their lives. After college, Mabel graduated from the prestigious Peking Union Medical College.

It was 1937, and everyone knew the invading Japanese would soon be coming. And just then, a marvelous opportunity was offered Mabel — going to the U.S. to continue her medical research! Her decision was between staying in China to face Japanese invaders famous for raping and murdering, or go to the U.S. for wealth and prestige. She stayed in China. If she left, she knew it meant never coming back — and too many in China had never heard of Christ. Her fiancé deemed it wiser to take the U.S. option, which was also offered to him. Mabel broke off the engagement and abandoned her career — and set off for Tibet wanting to preach the Gospel where Christ was unknown. In those days, getting there alive was only a 50/50 proposition, and Tibetans treated missionaries like the Japanese treated prisoners. But that made no impression on Mabel because "they deserved to hear the message of salvation".

Mabel got as far as Kanding, in western Sichuan, where she was arrested for "religious mania". After she was released, she lived in Beijing doing work in the medical field by day, and Christian ministry every chance she had for the next 56 years. (She hid Watchman Nee and his wife in her home for over a year.) When China opened up some to the West in the 1980's, Mabel's old two room house became one of the earliest storehouses for smuggled Bibles. In 1991 alone, she transferred at least 15,000 Chinese Bibles through her home. Inevitably, on December 30, 1991, the Communist police came and confiscated several hundred Bibles she was storing at that time. Was she afraid? She talked about the experience: "I told them these Bibles were neither mine nor theirs, but the Lord's! I demanded they give them back! Then I preached the gospel to them all." At just 4'6" tall, Mabel was a fireball of courage for the Lord.

Did the police raid stop her? Not at all. She finally realized her dream of going to Tibet in 1993 at the age of 86, and went back three more times doing missionary work before I met her in China when she was in her 90's and still active for the Lord. She only recently passed on to her reward. (Most of these facts above courtesy of China Harvest in Wichita, Kansas.)

Courage. It is demonstrated in various ways in different people. For Mabel, it was dangerous underground Christian ministry during Communism. For an unknown Christian in the late 1880's, courage was passing out Gospel tracts in Beijing (then Peking). Hardly anyone wanted his tracts about a "foreign god", and a shopkeeper was about to throw a tract away in disdain when his young apprentice exercised courage and took it. That young apprentice was named Chen — Mabel's grandfather — who got saved, became a pastor, and was martyred by the Boxers. His Christian courage started a dynasty that affected thousands of lives.

After testimonies like that, how can we in America be afraid to witness, afraid to put a Christian bumper sticker on our car or wear a Christian tee shirt, afraid to go on a mission trip, afraid to put a Bible on our desk at work, or just stand up for what is right in the face of mere peer pressure? "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2nd Timothy 1:7).

I have met T.L. Osborne, and early in his ministry career he and a fellow minister named Don Gossett did a study of the book of Acts in order to discover the secret of success of the early Christians. One of the main keys they found was the boldness or courage of those first century believers. They were willing to "pay a price" — step out in faith and courage to witness, worship, pray, identify themselves as Christians, and even die. (God is not trying to get us all to die for Him, He is trying to get us to live for Him. But living for Him takes courage, too.)

We need to remember the examples from scripture of Daniel and the lion's den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being threatened with the fiery furnace, David facing Goliath, Elijah taking on the 700 prophets of Baal, Moses facing the Red Sea. And in modern times, we need to remember the courage of those in the persecuted church in places like China, Russia, the Middle East, India and Pakistan. There are those who overcame — "who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight." (Heb 11:33-34). There are also those who have paid a mighty price — "all gave some, but some gave all". We should not let them die in vain — their examples should encourage and inspire our courage to be all we can be for Jesus and do all we can for the Kingdom of God.

In the Old Testament, we are reminded by God of the courage of Joshua and Caleb when the 12 spies saw the giants in the promised land, and the people were all afraid to go on. Joshua's courage was instrumental as he took leadership after the death of Moses. It was Joshua's courage speaking when he said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

I met Ed Cole and did consulting for his ministry before his death. He was the author of Maximized Manhood, and he once said, "Champions are made, not born. Champions are men in whom courage has become visible." And it can take courage to pick yourself up if you have failed at something, and try again. Ed Cole wrote an entire book titled, Winners Are Not Those Who Have Never Failed, But Those Who Never Quit." Courage is defined in a Webster dictionary as mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. We need to exercise the courage to overcome whatever obstacles we are facing.

Encouraging Courage,

Dale & Judi Leander


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