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They went about … destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them (Heb.11:37-38).

There are still some that live sacrificially for Christ.  Not many, but some.  Through the ages, those who lived as strangers and aliens here because they were so focused on the Kingdom of God and His work being done left tremendous impressions on the world.  Of the millions of Christians that have gone before us, we still hear some of the names of those we consider true “champions” of the faith.  Their lives were so dedicated to Christ that we don’t need a full name.  Just a first name of an apostle is all we have.  And, the last name of spiritual giants is all we need to know who is being mentioned.

In Scripture, we don’t think it odd that we only know the first names of men like Peter, James, Joh, and Paul.  In history, there are men whose last names are enough for all to recognize the person…. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Mueller, Spurgeon, Wesley, etc.

We revere these because of the accounts of their courage for Christ.  Through hardships, trials, sometimes imprisonment and death, they were ever faithful.  None entered the work of Jesus seeking to know their salary package, retirement plan, or benefits.  Like the saints recorded in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, they served with a singular focus of pleasing Jesus.  History still speaks of them with great honor.

Maria Dyer was born in 1837 on the mission field in China where her parents were pioneer missionaries. Both her parents died when Maria was a little girl, and she was sent back to England to be raised by an uncle. The loss of her parents, however, did not deter her young heart from the importance of sharing the gospel. At age sixteen she, along with her sister, returned to China to work in a girl’s school as a missionary herself. Five years later, she married Hudson Taylor, a man well-known today for his life of ministry, faith, and sacrifice.

Hudson and Maria’s work was often criticized—even by other Christians. At one point Maria wrote, “As to the harsh judgings of the world, or the more painful misunderstandings of Christian brethren, I generally feel that the best plan is to go on with our work and leave God to vindicate our cause.” Of their nine children, only four survived to adulthood. Maria herself died of cholera when she was just forty-three. But she believed the cause was worthy of the sacrifice. On her grave marker these words were inscribed: “For her to live was Christ, and to die was gain.”

In a day when many are self-absorbed and care more about what they can get rather than what they can give, we need a renewal of sacrificial love. It was God’s love for us that sent Jesus into the world to die for our sins, and it is that kind of giving love that our world needs so greatly today. When we love God as we should, our interests fade as we magnify Him.

We have the same opportunities to be consistently faithful and focused.  For the vast majority of us, we face no real opposition or persecution.  Surely, we should live in such a way so that “all who come behind us find us faithful.”