August 2006

Many times, those who are deemed as heroes are the obvious ones who have saved helpless victims from certain peril, endured great pain and loss for a noble cause, or discovered the answers to life's most troubling questions. Not so with my personal hero. As far as I know, there are no books written about this woman and she is hardly written in the minds and memories of today's Christians. But it is precisely this that causes her to stand out in my mind the way she does. Grace Wilder was the sister of one of the earliest leader's of the Student Volunteer Movement - history's most effective mobilization movement. She was the sister. Robert, her brother, is well-known for being the first catalyst for the movement, which sought to challenge college students to go overseas. And it was extremely successful; claiming that 1 out of every 36 college students of their day who went overseas were fruit from the movement. But Grace was hidden and unseen. She was never a traveler with the movement. She never spoke in front of large groups of students to challenge them to go. But she was faithful to build vision into the women in her Bible study and she diligently prayed for the Lord to raise up laborers for His harvest field. And at one time, Robert credited the success of the Student Volunteer Movement to Grace's faithful prayers. I think at times it can be confusing to recognize the place God has us and then to look at the state of the world and the Christian's general obligation to be involved in reaching it. I have had many conversation with students who, after just a short period of time, reveal their unconscious belief that to be involved in God's global purposes means to be called to go overseas long-term to live in a hut in Africa. The problem is that most of us are not in huts overseas! Most of us are in the States on a college campus. And many of us will never go long-term (though everyone who is capable should at least go short term). But God's will and passion for the world are still the same, and the Christian's obligation is still the same. So how do we appropriate our world with God's passion? We look at where we are and make His heart the energy behind everything we do. Grace was in a Bible study, so she used it to mobilize others. Grace had a prayer life, so she incorporated the world into that and had a huge impact. Then we look at our future plans and hold them out to see if they line up with God's heart. No matter where you are now, God wants to use you to reach all nations. Begin to see that vision as an everyday endeavor - part of normal Christian life instead of something you might apply some summer later in life. To read a biography of Grace Wilder, click here.