Would You Refuse to Rescue a Dying Person?

The famous missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, once recounted a heartbreaking story that happened to him while travelling by boat from one Chinese city to another.  Hudson tells the story in his own words:

“In the same boat was a Chinaman as passenger, who had been in England; and who, when there, went by the name of Peter.  He had heard the gospel, but had not experienced its saving power.  I had been speaking to him on the preceding evening about his soul’s salvation, and he had been moved to tears.  I was pleased, therefore, when he asked to be allowed to accompany me, and to hear me preach.  Our boat drew nearer the walls of the city, and I went into the cabin to prepare for going ashore, expecting in a few minutes to enter Sung-kiang Fu with my Chinese friend.  I was suddenly startled by a splash and a cry.  I sprang out of the cabin and looked around- every one was at his post but poor Peter.  I instantly leapt overboard, trying to find him.  Unsuccessful, I looked around in agonizing suspense, and saw, close to me, a fishing-boat with a peculiar drag-net furnished with hooks, which I knew would bring him up.

“Come!” I cried, as hope sprang up in my heart, “Come, and drag over this spot directly, for a man is drowning here.”

“Veh bin” – it’s not convenient – was the cold and unfeeling reply.

“Don’t talk of convenience,” I cried in an agony, “a man is drowning!”

“We are busy fishing and cannot come,” was the reply.

“Never mind your fishing,” I cried, “I will give you more money than many a day’s fishing will bring you, if you will come at once.”

“How much money will you give us?”

“I’ll give you five dollars.”

“We won’t come for that; we’ll drag for twenty dollars.”

“I have not got so much; do come quickly, and I’ll give you all the money I have.”

“How much is that?”

“About fourteen dollars.”

At last they came, and in less than one minute brought up the body of poor Peter.  They were most indignant and clamorous because the payment of their exorbitant demand was delayed while attempts were being made at resuscitation.  But all was in vain– Peter was dead.

Hudson goes on to apply the story to his fellow Englishmen: “My reader, would you not say that these men were verily guilty of this poor Chinaman’s death, in that they had the means of saving him at hand, but would not use them?  Surely they were!  And yet, pause ere you give your judgment against them, lest a greater than Nathan say, ‘Thou art the man.’”  Is it so hard hearted, so wicked a thing to neglect to save the body? Of how much sorer punishment is he worthy who leaves the soul to perish?  The Lord Jesus commands, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person.’”

I told this story last Sunday in a message on the spiritual discipline of sharing our faith.  After our Saturday night worship service, a young man approached me with a very grave look on his face and said, “You know that story you told about Hudson Taylor?”  I replied in the affirmative.  He continued, “I have a friend who is a missionary in a coastal African country who witnessed a commercial plane crash several hundred yards off the coast.  The plane broke apart and there were many survivors crying out for help.  My missionary friend pleaded with the local fishermen who were watching as well to get in their boats and rescue the survivors.  One of the fishermen looked at her and said, ‘No, the bodies will bring in the sharks and that will make for good fishing tomorrow.’”

It’s hard to believe someone could be that cold and callous to human life.  How can we be that selfish at the expense of another’s life?  And yet, as Taylor admonished his countrymen, how can we who are in possession of the gospel and refuse to share with others say we are really any different.  It is tragic to not save the physical bodies of people.  It is even more tragic to not offer to those who are drowning spiritually the one thing that can save them- the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Do you actively share your faith?  Are you willing to invest in people and have repeated conversations about the Lord with them?  Remember, Jesus told us to make disciples, not just quickly tell people once about the gospel.  Are you willing to give of yourself, be patient and loving to people, and take the time to share what Christ has done for you and can do for them?  If you stood on the deck of a ship with a life preserver in hand while watching a man drowning, why would you not throw the lifeline to him?  Sharing the gospel is a matter of life and death. Who around you- that you work with, go to school with, live near, or are friends with on Facebook- is drowning and in need of the Lord’s rescue?  Go and share!

Mark 16:15- “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!