One-Way Missionaries

Yesterday a friend of mine told me about “One-way Missionaries.” In the early 1900s there was a group of missionaries who, when they were about to embark on a mission to a foreign land, would not pack a suitcase as most people would. Instead, they took a coffin which they packed with their belongings, along with a one-way ticket. By so doing, they demonstrated their intention to die sooner or later in the new land they were adopting.

A good example of this sort of commitment and intentionality was a missionary named “Peter Milne.” Milne selected as his mission a tribe of headhunters in the New Hebrides islands, in the south Pacific off the coast of Australia. Every other missionary that attempted this had been killed, and Milne had no guarantee that would not be true for him as well.

Still, he was not deterred, so off he went with his coffin. He spent more than fifty years in the islands, witnessing to the tribesmen about Jesus Christ. When he died of natural causes, the tribe buried him in a grave noted with this tombstone. “When he came there was no light. When he left there was no darkness.”

These one-way missionaries understood the full implications of Jesus’ call to “take up your cross and follow me.” This was and is a call to give up fear, comfort, certainty, and security in order to follow in the way that the cross leads.

This remains true.