In 1839 John Williams and James Harris, from the London Mission Society, went to the New Hebrides (islands about two-thirds of the way between Australia and Hawaii) with the intent to take the gospel to the people there. But, within minutes after going ashore, both of these missionaries were killed and eaten by cannibals. Less than 20 years later John Paton, a Scottish Presbyterian, would boldly go to those same people with the gospel. He knew the cost would be high, but he also knew that the need was great, and that Jesus was worth it…
When Paton was getting ready to head out there, and was raising support for this great mission, one man named Mr. Dickson protested. He told Paton, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!” After all, it had only been 19 years since that had happened. But to this Paton responded:
“Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”
Paton would not be shaken. He was convinced by God’s Word and the world around him that he must go and bear witness. So he did; and it cost him much… He gave up all the comforts of the western world, he was criticized for going on the mission field, and—worst of all—he suffered the tragic loss of children and his young wife. But, we easily forget that there are worst things than dying. Death is nothing compared to eternal wrath; and without Jesus that is what everyone is destined for. So Paton counted the cost, and went. And he saw a whole island come to Christ; he saw the hardest people reached, and he had the deepest joy in Christ… Again, he knew that the need is great, and the cost is high, but Jesus is worth it… The question is, do we? Do we see the need? Are we willing to count the cost? Do we believe that Jesus is worth it? Are we willing to give our lives to making much of Jesus?
I am nothing; Christ is all!