Holding on with their eye-lashes
In November 1862 eighteen-year-old Archibald Brown took up the leadership of a small cause in Bromley, Kent. He had a congregation of 18 on the first Sunday. Only 12 returned the second week. Progress continued in the same direction when on the third week only six showed up. It couldn’t get much worse!
When he reported to C.H. Spurgeon about his disappointing start and the dismal prospects for the work, Spurgeon famously replied with these words: “Hold on with your teeth, and if you cannot hold on with your teeth, hold on with your eye-lashes – but hold on somehow!”
By God’s grace, Brown did hold on. The tide turned and by the next year a church was formed with 20 members including a number of new converts.
Some of the men we support – young and old alike – are holding on with their eye-lashes. Some of them have faced perplexing difficulties in their churches. Some of them have experienced heart-breaking disappointments in their homes. Some of them have faced ill health themselves or in their immediate families. Some of them consistently have more month at the end of the money. All of them have known the reality of intense spiritual warfare.
How should the rest of us respond? I can answer no better than Mr. Spurgeon did on another occasion.
“We honour the men who, subsisting on scanty and humble fare, battling with adversity, and living down prejudice, are seeking to the best of their ability to plant new churches in apparently unhopeful districts. With the accent of conviction on their lips, the truth of God in their hearts, and undying perseverance leading them on, they must succeed in breaking the dreary monotony of a sinful village life. Their preaching may not please the highly cultured; their methods of working may not suit this decorous age; their unambitious lives may fall flat upon the feverish world; but their faithfulness to God, and persistency in his service, shall be rewarded with the divine “Well done, good and faithful.” We know no greater heroes than these sufferers of contumely and hatred, who so gloriously bear up and strike dismay into the enemy’s camp. Their imperfections are not worthy to be weighed with their virtues. If England is to be evangelised, it must be by such men. Fit them, train them to as great a degree of perfection as mortal man can bear — no standard is too high for God’s ministers but let not culture destroy Christian simplicity (it does not in the truly great); let not learning quench earnestness and enthusiasm; let not supercilious affectation snub them, or selfishness despise them. A future generation may be proud of men who today are but lightly esteemed.”
Will you pray that God will give us the wisdom to honour such men not just in past history but in present ministry as well?
Will you ask God what you can do to lighten their load and to encourage their hearts?
Warmly in Christ