I recently finished reading John Paton’s biography. Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides Islands (Vanuatu) in the 1800’s. I tried to express to my wife his life’s impact but found my words inadequate; wonder, challenge, tears, focus, surprise, and many more words describe my reading experience.
One of the parts that struck me the most was the role Paton’s father, James, had on his life. James and his wife Margaret had 11 children. James was a stocking maker. His life was given over to a simple peasant job and his family, yet souls he would never know were eternally redeemed because he loved, cared and prayed for his wife and children in a warm and consistent manner. Listen to James' fatherly impact from John Paton’s own pen:
"Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, were blotted from my understanding, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and shut itself up once again in that Sanctuary Closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal, ‘He walked with God, why may not I?’
How much my father's prayers at this time impressed me I can never explain, nor could any stranger understand. When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in Family Worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the Heathen world to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Savior, and learned to know and love him as our Divine friend."
A stocking maker had a global vision and raised his children to be laborers for Christ in whatever they did. The souls of the New Hebrides Islands (Vanuatu) would never be the same.
Lord, burden us as parents with fervent prayer for our children. Help us to raise them to be laborers for you. Enable us to labor well in the fields you have given us to plow for your sake, our children’s sake and the souls of those we know. Amen.