By Not Known
Today, we join with 10,000 churches worldwide to sing the hymn (of prayer) – “Facing a Task Unfinished”. This is a call by the OMF Global Mission movement for churches to increase their effort and resources towards the evangelisation of people in East Asia.
The Hymn was first written by a China Inland Mission (CIM) worker, Rev Frank Houghton (1894 – 1972) at a time when persecution was at its height in China. Despite the persecutions, 200 new missionaries were sent into China between 1929 and 1932 to spread the Gospel. Those men and women knew that it could well cost them their lives. Yet, driven by the hope of Matthew 24:14, they went. Frank’s hymn was a poignant reminder of the missionary mandate of the church even in the face of darkness and death. Since then, millions of people in China have professed faith in Jesus Christ.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
Frank came from a family of pastors and missionaries. His father, Rev Thomas Houghton (1895 – 1951), was an Irish-born Anglican pastor. His own brother, Rev Alfred Thomas (A.T.) Houghton (1896 – 1993) was a Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society (BCMS) missionary to Burma. The latter did not compose a hymn, but he wrote a little book entitled “Tailum Jan – Christian widow in the wild mountains of Upper Burma” (1930) which recounts his pioneer missionary experiences between 1924 and 1939. Above all, his little book testifies to “God’s faithfulness and the saving power of the gospel in one woman’s life.”
All these wonderful servants of God, their testimonies, and their common passion for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) become personal to me once again when I met Tim Houghton several years ago while serving together in the land where his grandfather, A.T. Houghton had served. For many cold winter mornings, we talked about God and his work and our lives over hot coffee by a roadside store. Tim talked a lot about his grandfather and grand-uncle. I could see how both men have influenced and inspired him so much that he himself returns again and again to serve. When I met him early this year on another Bible teaching assignment, he was suffering from tremendous hip pain and had to go around with a walking stick. Still, he came, he served and he talked about his grandfather and grand-uncle.
Between the words of Jesus in John 19:30 – “It is finished” and his final return, the people of God continue to face a task unfinished – the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). May we join in the great missionary tradition and be inspired by faithful men and women who had gone before us to preach Christ to the nations. May it be our goal to bring rejoicing to heaven as we face the unfinished task of world evangelisation.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10