How Missionaries Reflect the Incarnate God

I’ve always loved Christmas. The smell of the pine tree, the taste of eggnog, the comfort of being in the presence of loved ones, the rest from a busy, hurried life. I love seeing my nieces’ and nephews’ joy as they tear open their presents, because it reminds me of my own childhood joy.

As I’ve grown older, my enjoyment of Christmas hasn’t lessened, but shifted. I’ve become particularly drawn to the implications of the Incarnation and the joy of knowing God with us. It is not only powerful to know that Christ died for us, but also that he lived among us as a frail human in a broken world rife with suffering. This gives me such hope in the face of my own troubles. We have a sure hope not only knowing there is a complete redemption yet to come, but also that we have the presence of God with us, here and now.

As I ponder the idea of the incarnation this Christmas season, I think of the many missionaries throughout Christian history who chose to dwell in foreign lands to spread the hope of Christ. They shared Christ’s love not only through their words but through their lives, as they lived among, suffered with, and served those around them. In this way they reflect Christ’s dwelling with us on earth 2,000 years ago.

I think of Torchlighters like Amy Carmichael, who lived and served in India. She entered pagan temples disguised as a Hindu woman in order to rescue young girls suffering under forced prostitution and slavery.

St. Patrick returned to Ireland, the place of his captivity, to live amongst and share the gospel with the people who enslaved him.

Eric Liddell stayed in China during World War II to encourage the people, even though it was very unsafe for him as a non-native and led to his eventual arrest.

Jim Elliot sacrificed the safety and comfort of his home to live among the Huaorani people. He pursued them with gifts and kindness even when faced with suspicion, hostility, and eventually murder at their hands.

Elisabeth Elliot, after Jim’s death, went to live amongst the Huaorani tribe, forgiving those who murdered her husband and sharing the good news of the gospel with them.

Harriet Tubman, after reaching freedom, made innumerable return trips to the southern states to lead nearly 300 slaves to freedom, risking not only her hard-won freedom but even her life.

These Torchlighters all have one thing in common: their devotion to the Lord. It’s only because he first loved us that we are then able to go out and love others. The Lord has given us Torchlighters such as these who continually strove—and strive—to share God’s hope with people through their words and their lives. Ultimately, they reflect Christ, our God who became human to dwell with his people, to suffer with us, and, ultimately, to save us. You can stream all of these episodes and more on RedeemTV.

As we experience Christmas joys throughout the season, let us first remember Immanuel who came to dwell with us 2,000 years ago, the promise of his eternal presence in the new heavens and the new earth, and his presence with us today in the in-between. Like the heroes of Christian history, let us be joyful imitators of Christ, our incarnate God, and show him to a world in need of good news.