Circus Performers

I was trying to find insurance for a vehicle I was considering buying. One company had been recommended to me as having the best rates, so naturally I thought I would check them out. Their rates were excellent, and while the saleswoman was taking down all the pertinent information about me, she asked me my occupation. I told her that I was a missionary speaker. She responded, “Oh no. I am so sorry Mr. Zumwalt, but our company does not insure circus performers or missionaries.”

I did not know how to respond. What an odd juxtaposition of imagery; those funny people in their spandex pants and missionaries are in the same category. Do I laugh or complain? She assured me that those were not her own feelings; she admired missionaries. It was just company policy: no circus performers or missionaries. When I think of the circus, I always think of the picture of a smiling guy putting his head into a lion’s mouth.

In essence, missionaries, when they go to the unreached, are walking into the lion’s den, and as it is in the big top, I hear those who are watching whisper to one another, “I would never do that. Would you go in there?”

We need a renewed breed of risk takers.

For today, when most mission agencies and many missionaries are content to stay where the Gospel has already been proclaimed, God has called us to go still further where the name of Christ has not yet been preached, rather than to continue to work where other men have established a foundation (Romans 15:20).

Frontier missionaries are risk takers going to places that have been locked away from the Gospel for thousands of years. We need apostles who will risk it all, like C.T. Studd, who went to China. Though he was what today would be a millionaire, he sold everything he had and went out with nothing in his pockets, trusting in his God alone. He staked his career and his fortune. In his later years, his health failing, penniless, doctors refusing to permit him to go, his mission agency refusing to send him, yet told by God to go, C.T.Studd once more staked all on obedience to God. A gambler for God! He joined ranks with the great gamblers of our faith, Abraham and Moses, all the heroes of Hebrews 11. He exemplified the true heart and zeal of Apostolic Christianity: “men that have risked (gambled with) their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). Studd, with solemn resolution proclaimed, “Gentlemen, God has called me to go, and I will go. I will blaze the trail, though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow.”

The more I think about it, I like being in with the circus. Often missionaries feel like they are on the flying trapeze, throwing themselves across a chasm of faith in finances, hoping there are those who will catch them on the other side. Or like the high wire balancing act where the father ends up carrying his family on his shoulders, missionaries risk everything that is dear and near to them to go where Christ has told them to go.

These are not ordinary people.

By all worldly standards, they may well be insane. I think that Jesus is asking this generation to be different from normal, to gamble it all, to risk everything. It is not a time to hedge our bet; it is a time to lay it all on the altar. “He that shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s shall find it.” C.T. Studd asked the question, and it still stands, “Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?”

By John Zumwalt