Tag Archives: missionary

Praying Hyde

I recently read a story from the life of John Hyde (1865-1912), a missionary to India in the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s. Hyde was somewhat famous because of his effective and powerful praying. In fact, history has nicknamed him as ‘Praying Hyde.’

Hyde once shared how one of the most amazing and profound lessons the Lord ever taught him about prayer actually occurred when he was praying for one of India’s native pastors who was both experiencing problems and was known to help create a few problems as well.

Hyde said he started praying something like this: “O God, Thou knowest this brother, how …”

Apparently, his next intended word was “cold,” with a description to follow about the problems of this man. However as he went to say “cold,” he felt a check in his spirit and just couldn’t go on. He reported that it was like a voice whispering sharply to him. “He that touches him touches the apple of my eye.” A great horror swept over Hyde, and he felt he had been guilty before God of “accusing the brethren.”

Falling to his knees, Hyde confessed his own sin, and he remembered the words of Paul, that we should think on things that are lovely and good. “Father,” cried Hyde, “show me what things are lovely and are of good report in my brother’s life.”

Like a flash, Hyde remembered the many sacrifices this pastor had made for the Lord, how he had given up all for Christ, how he had suffered deeply for Christ. He thought of the many years of difficult labor this man invested in the kingdom and the wisdom with which he had resolved congregational conflict. Hyde remembered the man’s devotion to his wife and family, and how he had provided a model to the church of godly husbanding.

John Hyde spent his prayer time that day praising the Lord for this brother’s faithfulness.

Shortly afterward, Hyde journeyed into the plains to see this pastor, and he learned that the man had just received a great spiritual uplift, as if a personal revival had refreshed his heart like a springtime breeze.

It turns out that while Hyde had been praising, God had been blessing.

(FROM: Morgan, Robert J. Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, 2007), 166.)

This great missionary known as “Praying Hyde” learned that the positive prayers of praise and blessing others are far more effective than griping and complaining in your prayers. And since God looks at us all together as part of the same team, you know… the Body of Christ… when you or I are complaining or badmouthing another Christian, we are hurting our own team… we are bringing curses upon ourselves. It’s like our arm punching ourselves in the face! No good can come from that kind of behavior! That’s NOT how we are to behave as the Body of Christ!

We read in the book of James:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

–James 3:9-10 (NIV)

How many of us need to be on our knees repenting of such sinful behavior of speaking against our fellow Christians instead of praying for them? And THEN we need to be praying for their good, for their blessings, for their spiritual strength, for their finances and ministries and their families!

 

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Filed under Biography, Church Leadership, prayer

The Missing Door

In the introduction of Michael Card’s book The Hidden Face of God, there is a revealing story of Vincent van Gogh, the famous artist of the 19th Century.
Van Gogh had once felt called to the ministry, but had never been able to pass the theological entrance exams. Instead, van Gogh opted for a more incarnational ministry… among the coal miners in a small town in Belgium.
Bit by bit, over a three-month period, Card writes, van Gogh served God by reaching out to these poorest of the poor. In fact, he followed Jesus’ admonition to the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. Paycheck by paycheck, as van Gogh saw more and more need, he gave away just about everything.
Card then writes “So completely did he reflect the sacrificial simplicity of Jesus that he became known as ‘the Christ of the coal mines.’”
“But those in the church who had authority over him did not feel this extravagance was appropriate, and he was eventually dismissed. It was a failure that hounded him for the rest of his life,” Card writes.
Throughout the rest of his life, even as he discovered a ‘ministry’ of expressing himself through art, van Gogh struggled with a sense of failure… even though we now recognize he was a genius! He felt like a reject… and felt the church was the one who had rejected him. He no longer felt he could turn to the church for strength or support… and became estranged from the Lord of the Church as well… Jesus Himself becomes a stranger to this one who had once emulated him so completely.
Card then draws attention to the last church painting van Gogh ever made, not long before his death: the Church at Auvers. Card writes:

“What many art critics have commented on is not the swimming colors but the ominous lack of a doorway leading into the church. Vincent painted a church that no one could get into. Having tried all his life to work hard enough to ‘get in,’ it appears that he could not imagine, in this last image of the church, a door that might allow him, with his enormous load of pain, to enter in…. Together with the scarcity of references to Jesus in his last letters, the absence of the door in the painting reveals his most fundamental fear: that there is no way into the church and, even more agonizing, that there is no One waiting on the other side of the missing door.” (pp. 12-13)

Vincent van Gogh died on July 27, 1890, as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds from a suicide attempt two days earlier. His brother, Theo, was with him when he died, and reported Vincent’s last words were, translated: “the sadness will last forever.”

How many times do we, today’s church, share our opinions and our thoughts about the way someone else is doing their job in serving Christ? How many of those times are we alienating those very ones who love Christ and are trying to serve him? How many end up like Vincent van Gogh… carrying an overwhelming load of pain and feeling abandoned by Christ and the Church?
No small wonder that the author of Hebrews writes: “…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)
Not everyone will agree with the way everyone else does stuff… not even in the church. But we can make sure that constantly show God’s love and compassion by encouraging one another… so that no one ever sees us as a church without a door.
Who can you encourage today?
(This was my pastor’s letter for the August 2008 edition of our church’s newsletter: The Sound of the Trumpet)

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Filed under Church Leadership, Death, Grief, Mental Health, Newsletter, Reflection