General Eisenhower once rebuked one of his Generals for referring to a soldier as “just a Private.” He reminded him that the Army could function better without its Generals, than it could without its foot soldiers. “If this war is won,” he said, “it will be won by Privates.” In the same way, the common, ordinary, one-talent Christians are the very backbone of the church. We have our great evangelists, our super congregations led by dynamic elders, and our wealthy brethren who are able to finance great works. But, if the work of the Lord is to be done, if the gospel is to be taken to the lost, it will be the “ordinary” Christians who will do it.

 

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J. Gresham Machen, world renowned theologian, accepted lowly work while serving as a YMCA volunteer during World War I. He was assigned the task of making hot chocolate at a canteen. Since it had to be ready at 7am, Machen would get up before 5. He’d take bars of chocolate and shave them into slivers. Then he’d melt them, gradually adding condensed milk and water as the mixture heated. From 7 till 9 he kept busy serving the hot chocolate, often not getting his own breakfast until the middle of the morning. Although Machen would have been an excellent counselor to the servicemen, he honored God by accepting a mundane task without complaining.

 

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F.B. Meyer once said: “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.”

 

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During a Billy Sunday evangelistic campaign, a mentally impaired boy came faithfully each night to sing in the choir. “Joey was not very bright,” said Homer Rodeheaver, the well-known song leader, “but he never missed any of our meetings and wouldn’t leave until he shook my hand. Sometimes I was embarrassed by the way he constantly tailed me, and I secretly wished he’d go away.”

Then one evening a man came to Rodeheaver and said, “Thank you for being kind to my son Joey. He’s not right mentally, but never has he enjoyed anything so much as singing in the choir. He worked hard doing simple chores for people so he could contribute to the collection. Through his pleadings my wife and five other children came to this evangelistic campaign and have now received Christ. Last night his 75-year-old grandfather, who has been an atheist all his life, was saved, and tonight his grandmother also came forward. Now our entire family is converted!”

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In his book Living Faithfully, J. Allen Blair tells of a man who was struggling to get to Grand Central Station in New York City. The wind blew fiercely, and the rain beat down on him as he lugged his two heavy suitcases toward the terminal. Occasionally he would pause to rest and regain his strength before trudging on against the elements.

At one point he was almost ready to collapse, when a man suddenly appeared by his side, took the suitcases, and said in a strangely familiar voice, “We’re going the same way. You look as if you could use some help.” When they had reached the shelter of the station, the weary traveler, the renowned educator Booker T. Washington, asked the man, “Please, sir, what is your name?” The man replied, “The name, my friend, is Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt.”

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George Atley was killed while serving with the Central African Mission. There were no witnesses, but the evidence indicates that Atley was confronted by a band of hostile tribesmen. He was carrying a fully loaded, 10-chamber Winchester rifle and had to choose either to shoot his attackers and run the risk of negating the work of the mission in that area, or not to defend himself and be killed. When his body was later found in a stream, it was evident that he had chosen the latter. Nearby lay his rifle – all 10 chambers still loaded. He had made the supreme sacrifice, motivated by his burden for lost souls and his answering devotion to his Savior. With the apostle Paul, he wanted Christ to be magnified in his body, “whether by life or by death.”

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