(The following words were written by Dan Cammack. He is the Executive Director of the Evangelical Friends Mission. It is part of an appeal for giving to the world-wide missions work of EFM in such places as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines and Rwanda. Our church devotes part of its Faith Promise Giving to one of their wonderful missionary couples: Edwin and Maria Giron in Mexico. This Sunday, December 3rd, we will be collecting the faith promise pledge cards which many of our members fill out each year to indicate the amount they will be asking God to give them in 2018 to help support the work of Christ around the world. We hope these words of Dan will inspire us all to pray and give to fulfill Christ’s command to proclaim the gospel throughout the world and make disciples of every nation! And, by the way, we encourage everyone to give to EFM’s work directly as well as through Faith Promise.)
As I write to you about making a year-end gift to EFM, I find myself processing two trips I made since I last wrote. One got me thinking about the courage of early Friends as they made disciples for the Lord Jesus in the 1650’s. The other revealed where we see that same kind of courage among Friends today.
In August I, along with twelve other Friends from Colorado and Oregon, visited the northwest corner of England after spending a week with EFM’s missionaries in Ireland. Some of us climbed Pendle Hill where in 1652 George Fox had a vision of a people to be gathered. All of us visited sites where Fox “published truth” during the weeks following that vision, including Swarthmoor Hall. In just a matter of months a great number of people were gathered in that part of the country. The message they heard from Fox was the kind for which they hungered: A living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is not lost in all the trappings of religion.
It wasn’t long before many men and women were taking this message to other parts of England as well as Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the European continent, the Caribbean islands, and the American colonies. They even tried to penetrate the Middle East. In just eight short years the gospel spread to all these places, and the movement became at least 30,000 strong. Those who spread the good news came to be known as “the Valiant Sixty.” They were called “valiant” because of the suffering they were willing to endure for the sake of Jesus Christ. They all faced rejection wherever they went. Most of them spent time in prison. Many were severely beaten. Some of them died young. There were economic consequences. Most of them could not carry out their ministries without some financial help. Thus, the Kendal Fund was created.
In the midst of all this missionary activity Swarthmoor Hall became an important center. I believe a good argument can be made that Margaret Fell, the mistress of this estate, was the first missions director among Friends. She carried on a heavy load of correspondence with the Valiant Sixty, and she did so without email or Skype! She also provided hospitality for those who needed member care. And she helped manage the Kendal Fund.
In September I traveled to Bangladesh to participate in three days of training for Friends leaders in that country. Twenty two of them arrived from different parts of Bangladesh, including their northwest corner. There were about as many women as men, and a nice spread of ages. Our main topic: The Great Commission.
On the first day of the training I asked each leader to share how he/she had come to Christ. I wish you could have been there to hear what I heard. I was deeply moved by their stories. Two things in particular stood out to me: These men and women came to Jesus for much the same reason that men and women in northwest England came to Christ. They too had experienced religions that do not satisfy. When they heard that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, they gave up everything to follow him.
The second thing that stood out to me is that these men and women are also valiant in their service to the Lord. They know what it’s like to be rejected. They know what it’s like to be beaten and to receive death threats. They also know what it’s like to feel compelled to go out and share the gospel. They are well acquainted with the sacrifices of time, money, and safety that accompany this kind of ministry. And still they are willing to keep carrying out the Great Commission in their country and beyond.
I am humbled in the presence of such men and women. I want to be more like them. May the Lord raise up many more just like them in all the continents of the world, including North America. Oh how we need those who are valiant for the Lord!
It would be hard to improve on the appeal that Margaret Fell made in 1655 on behalf of the Kendal Fund. May these words speak to you as they speak to me. "Truly, dear brethren, we would not have troubled you at this time, having troubled you before so lately, but that the necessity is so great, the work so large, and the brethren being gone into so many far and remote places, and now is even the heat of the Lord's harvest, and the burden lies heavy upon Friends here in the north parts at present. ... So now for the present, dear brethren, offer freely."
Please be obedient to the Lord’s leading in your year-end giving.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
Executive Director of EFM