Shall I Go? Thoughts for Girls
By Miss Grace E. Wilder (1887, 5th edition)
The bible teaches women's duty and privilege in Christian work. Women are included in the admonitions, warnings, and commands given to the children of Israel. In the service of song they had a large share. All the women went out after Miriam when she exclaimed: "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously." (Ex. 15:21). "When David was returned form the slaughter of the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing." (I Sam. 18:6). Women had an active part in the equipment of the Tabernacle: "And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun." (Ex. 35:25).
In the prophets we see them as mourners; in the psalms, as preachers "The Lord giveth the word; the women that publish tidings are a great host." (Ps. 68:11). The Old Testament records signal services rendered by women; nor does it close without a prophetic glance at the future enlargement of their work; "Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy…Upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (Joel 2:28-29). Add to this the works of Christ, and women's Christian privileges and responsibilities cannot be doubted. But just what is our great work as women of this nineteenth century? Our Savior has died and risen. The door of heaven is open to every poor sinner. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Yet millions of women know not this wonderful truth. And why not? Christian women have not told them.
In the selection of His disciples our Savior makes prominent a single requisite; And Jesus said unto them, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets and followed him.' Prompt obedience was repeatedly the condition of signal blessings. Mary showed her knowledge of Christ when she said, whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."
The most vital questions for every Christian women to-day are:
What would he have me do? Am I doing it?
As to the first, we have a distinct answer in the first chapter of Acts. At the ascension, as the group of disciples gathered around Jesus, with longings inexpressible, they must have desired to show their love to Him. The Savior knows it, and in the solemn moment of parting he confides his one great desire to those whom he deems worthy to fulfill the sacred trust. "Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Before the clouds received Him out of their sight His last words were, "uttermost part of the earth." What greater legacy could He have left? Such a trust shows His confidence in our love and faithfulness. "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me." As these first missionaries walked back to Jerusalem did they discuss what constitutes a call? Is each one of us included? Or, where is the money to come from? Ah no; these hearts were intent on their Master's orders. Obedience was simply a question of supreme love to Jesus.
When Garibaldi had been defeated at Rome, he issued his immortal appeal: "Soldiers, I have nothing to offer you but cold, and huger, and rags and hardship. Let him who loves his country follow me." Thousands of the youths of Italy sprang to their feet. Girls, if we see our work laid upon us with all the emphasis of a Savior's last wish; if we are honestly asking, Shall I carry the message of salvation to heathen women? Let the answer be prompted by pure love and gratitude to Jesus. He knew us when He gave love as our motive for work. Nothing short of it will keep us faithful and strong.
Do you say,
I want the assurance that I am personally called?
"Let him that heareth say, come." Thank God, this means me just as truly as "Whosever will, let him come." Our government in dire extremity calls for recruits between the ages of twenty-five and fifty: what would you say of one who, refusing to go, would give the excuse that he had not receive a personal call? Living face to face with the fact that 800,000,000 are without knowledge of Christ, can we ask Have I a call to tell them of Jesus?
What mean the cries for desolate heathen homes, from hundreds of children carrying deep gashes and brands made on the tender flesh to bring out an evil spirit, or the still deeper heart burnings, which come with every added year of life? What means the mute appeal from India's 21,000,000 widows, 1,500,000 under twenty-four and 10,000 under ten years of age? Girls, is there not hear a personal call to "carry good tidings, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound"? It was a call, which reached to heavens and brought down the Savior. Can it do less in a human heart?
But I have not a Missionary Spirit.
God forbid that we should undertake this work without the true spirit. Let us not lower our standard; but remember, "the preparation of the heart is form the Lord." Jesus emphasized the essential requirement, and "commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father." Of the disciples it is written: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren." (Acts 1:14). "Thus saith the Lord God: I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." We who are young, and tremble in the presence of soul-work, can rest on Zech. 4:6. How earnestly we would seek the missionary spirit if we remembered that it is our badge of discipleship. "If you love me, keep my commandments." "ye are my friends, if ye do what I command you."
I fear I have not all the qualifications needful?
I Cor. 1:18-31 mentions five things which God uses: The weak, foolish, base, and despised things, and things that are not. Why "That no one may glory in his own strength, wisdom, or power. Moses made excuses until he learned, it was not the rod, not Moses, but the Lord that was the deliverer. Samson with his jawbone of an ass, Gideon's armament of empty pitchers, David and his sling, Shamgar with his oxgoad, Elisha and his staff, Dorcas with her needle, and Mary with her alabaster box of ointment, are each a standing rebuke to every faint hearted Christian. Our only fear need be that we are not offering to God the very best we have.
If we cannot give our thousands, We can give the widow's mite.
But let us remember the widow's mite was all she had.
One who has been a missionary a quarter of a century sends us girls this message: "if you have given yourselves a living sacrifice unto God, fear not the foreign field." "Go ye therefore, because all power is given unto Me."
Do you say,
I can work at home?
We certainly would not be missionary candidates if not Christian workers. But consider "The good is a great enemy of the best." Are we working for souls entirely dependent on us for a knowledge of Christ? Could we not do more for our college, our literary circle, our sewing school, our church, and our home, by enlisting it to support us with its contributions and prayers, by sending back letters and thus bringing it into closer sympathy with Christ and his work?
Pastor Harms, instead of getting men from the learned universities, urged upon his own people- farmers, artisans, and mechanics - the duty of carrying the gospel to Africa. A ship was built for the purpose, and the first band of missionaries reached Zululand in 1854. During the following seventeen years Pastor Harm's parish in Hanover enjoyed on uninterrupted revival in which 10,000 souls were hopefully converted.
Ties of Friendship,
Let us prayerfully read Matt. 10:37. As co-partners in the work of redeeming our world to Christ, we are to know the "fellowship of His sufferings." Oh to rise to the holy enthusiasm born of a desire to have the sufferings of Christ abound in us. Paul viewed souls from the standpoint of the cross, and so exclaims: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church"
We need this enthusiasm. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to make us realize the value of one immortal soul. We need Him to open our eyes and hearts to the fact that one thousand years have passed since the command to disciple all nation was given and three-fourths of our race are still without hope, without Christ, without God in the world. We need His help to realize our relation to the worlds redemption; to the fact that while the church has been gaining some 3,000,000 converts from heathendom, the natural increase of heathen has been 200,000,000. Praise God, His Spirit is carrying home these acts, and leading man to say, "Here am I, send me."
Since the last edition of the pamphlet, the missionary awaking among students has continued, and the movement has grown rapidly. During the college years of 1888 and 1889, Mr. R.P. Wilder has been again visiting the colleges, and the list of Missionary Volunteers has grown to 3,847, representing 240 different institutions, in which were 139 Young Men's Christian Associations and 78 Young Women's Christian Associations.
Of this number, nearly two hundred young men and women have already gone to China, Japan, India, and other countries.
Though, out of the 100,000 in schools for the higher education of women in this country, nearly 50,000 are Christian girls, scarcely 700 of the missionary volunteers are women, and this when so many fields await the touch of "consecrated Christian womanhood." Has not the Y.W.C.A. "come to the kingdom for such a time as this"? Can we not enlist every one of the 600 schools were young women are educated so that unitedly we may undertake our work, that of carrying the gospel into every zenana and harem? "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe"; and it pleased Him to make woman the first herald of resurrection news. Our Savior has not left us in doubt as to what He would have us do.
Are we doing it?
The following statistics, though incomplete will help us in answering this question.
Estimating the heathen population at 850,000,000 at least 425,000,000 are women and girls. According to the latest statistics the living communicants in the churches of all Christendom number 31,500,000. 15,000,000 or less than one-half this total, will not be too large an estimate for lady communicants. We 15,000,000 Christian women ought to carry the gospel to 425,000,000 heathen women.
The 2,163 lady missionaries we are now supporting, both by women's societies by the General Boards, gives us only one missionary to 700 lady communicants. If equally distributed, these missionaries would each have a parish of 196,949 souls; that is, we are providing but a single missionary for nearly 200,000 heathen women and girls.
In the annual reports of the women's societies no fact is more impressive and ominous than the inadequate supply of workers. One society has been looking over a year for a lady physician; another reports but a single new worker sent during the year. During our late war 500,000 lives were sacrificed to save the Union: to save the heathen world the whole church of Christ is not giving 7,000 men and women. Christian mothers, will you not give us up in such a crisis? Instead of sending us to a studio or a conservatory will you not support us in harems and zenanas, that we may gather jewels, even King's daughters, form the ends of the earth?
Do we not need more united effort in this work of reaching 425,000,000 women and girls? Would we not do it faster if English and American girls exchange thoughts on the subject? If, as has been suggested, we hold a missionary convention at least once every year? If those of us who are in schools and colleges petition for a new study, that of missions? And, above all, if each one of us seeks a baptism of the Holy Spirit, even the power to lead souls to Jesus? Shall we not all remember the noon hour of prayer, when all the young people who are interested in the saving of the unsaved millions abroad, are daily uniting in asking for the evangelization of the world in our generation?
The president of Smith College writes us, that since the opening of that college some 250 have graduated; but, so far as he knows only two of these are in the foreign missionary work. Of Vassar graduates, 695, about a dozen names could be given as foreign missionaries. Here no record is kept of those who go. From Wellesley College twenty-one names are given. Even Mt. Holyoke Seminary, which has celebrated her fiftieth anniversary, can claim but 150 foreign missionaries during her entire history. The crisis in most lives comes during college days. Many a student, like Margaret Campbell, has heard the call to the heathen while still within seminary walls. Is not God speaking to us, girls, in the present missionary revival among our colleges?
If each lady communicant had one to represent her in the foreign field we should have 15,000,000 instead of 886 missionaries. History shows that God has signally blessed woman's work. Many, like Mrs. McFarland, of Alaska, Miss Rankin, in Mexico, and Miss Sharp, in Africa, have been pioneers. Many others, as Mrs. Mumford, in Bulgaria, Miss Bella Nassau, on the Ogove, and Miss Anstey, in India, are standing alone conducting the whole work for a mission. The number of missionaries sent by the American Board during its 75 years is 786 men and 1,080 women.
In one prominent college there are now one hundred missionary volunteers who have taken the pledge: "We are willing and desirous, God permitting, to be foreign missionaries." Seven of their number are already in foreign fields, and fourteen more are about to sail. Other colleges can report similar bands of earnest prayerful candidates for the foreign field.
The statistics of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Societies show that eight societies have given $22,024.31 less in 1887 than in 1886. The total income gives an average of less than $67 for each auxiliary- the average gain of the year being $13.75 for each auxiliary. For American societies the average gain is $9.40.
This is our advance under the banner of Jesus. What is the advance in Satan's host? Careful statistics tell us that here are some 200,000,000 more heathen in the world to-day than when Carey went to India. With these facts must be remembered also another: the majority of church communicant are doing nothing. The Ladies' Association of Scotland is not alone in lamenting that two-thirds of the parishes are records as non-contributing to its funds. Where is the church in England or America in which one-third of the ladies are obeying Christ's command?
If but 10,000,000 out of our 15,000,000 lady communicants would so work that during the next fourteen years each would reach one hundred souls, the whole unevangelized world would hear of Christ before 1900.
In answering the question, Shall I go? Let us remember, dear girls, that failure to realize or acknowledge responsibility does not diminish it; that woman was made the first herald of resurrection news. Above all, let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, "Whosever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother and my sister and mother."
Will you not offer yourself today To the service of the King? Yourself, redeemed by the Savior's blood, To the feet of the Savior bring? Will you not offer yourself today, While your body and soul are strong? You know not that God will spare your life; And He may not spare it long. Will you not offer yourself today, While it costs you something to give? A priceless gift may never be yours To offer again while you live. Will you not offer yourself today, While the Savior needs your life? It may be that when you would join the ranks 'Twill be the end of the strife. Will you not offer yourself today, Today while there is yet light? For when you would gladly give up all, It may be eternal night. -G.M.P.
Grace E. Wilder We told you of our Famine Of India's urgent need Our words not unheeded - In vain we did not plead. Your giving was unstinted - E'en thus we spent your store We rescued hungry children, And these brought many more. We wish that you might see them, To weak one growing strong: Sad faces bright with laughter - While yet not with us long. Some can now tell of Jesus: Their wee lips lisp His praise. And older ones learn daily To know and love His ways. But friends - these make us mindful That love is not mere thought - Not just a passing impulse: God's love through action wrought. Are we to keep these children? Is asked of us today. Surely God's love has brought them Can we - can you - say nay? A little of Earth's comfort - Brings heaven's blessings down, As we amid this number - Find gems for Jesus' crown We ask that naught may hinder - The joy Christ bids you share. Soon these will be His glory Whom now He makes your care.