When the world-war broke out, one of our American students, a volunteer, a medical missionary, was working under the Pasha of Turkey who drove horseshoes into the feet of Armenians to help them in their flight. That was his sense of humour. This Pasha’s favourite wife was ill, and he sent for the medical missionary. When he got to the palace he found six other doctors, Jews and Syrians. He went past them and examined the woman, and came back and reported, “We must operate at once or she will be dead before morning.” The doctors looked at him in surprise and said, ” Do you know whose wife she is?” He said, “Yes, she is the wife of the Pasha.” “Well, do you not know that if we operate and she dies, we will all be dead before morning?” This doctor straightened himself up and said, “I am a Christian; when I left my medical college the only promise I made was this, that I would consider no interest but the interest of the patient. I am going to operate.” These Jewish and Syrian doctors said, “If you want to commit suicide, you are welcome, but please tell the Pasha you do this on your own risk.”
It was a difficult operation, and he performed it, and then he prayed as he had seldom prayed before that God might spare that woman so that he might remain to help the Armenians in that weltering sea of human misery. God granted his request; the patient recovered slowly and was completely restored to health. Later, petitions were sent to the Pasha, praying that this medical missionary should be banished; the Pasha tore up the petitions and said, “This man has saved the life of my wife; he can stay as long as he wants to.” The armistice was signed, and the missionary came back to see his wife and children. Then I did a very cruel thing—I wrote and asked him if he would travel for the Student Volunteer Movement. He handed the letter to his wife, and she said,” Of course you must go.” As he started for the first university, and went from the door of his house, he heard a child’s voice saying, “Daddy, when are you coming back ?” He said, “I will be back in a fortnight.” He was. After he spent a couple of days at home he started for the next university, and so he travelled for our Student Volunteer Movement for a year and a half. Wherever he went medical students were moved through and through by his ministries and messages. Then a letter came from his Board of Missions—”Are you ready to go back to your hospital in Turkey?” He handed that letter to his wife; she read it and said, “Of course you must go,” though she knew that she and the children must remain behind. Even yet she is unable to join him. He said, “I took particular care to leave my home at an hour of the night when I would not hear those two small feet behind me and a child’s voice saying, ‘Daddy, when are you coming back?'”
There that hero is at the post of duty, and when I think of him I think of the words of our Lord, “The seed are the sons of the Kingdom,” and what He wants to do is to plant men like that and women with the same devotion all over these distant islands—the seed are the sons and daughters of the kingdom. Thank God, the average missionary can take his family with him. Then the best thing in these distant fields often is the home of the Christian missionary, the home with the open door. But if Christ’s last command is to be carried out it means sacrifice on the part of parents who will give up their children to this work and on the part of the men and women who are to go into these distant fields. Are we ready?
July 1925, from a message given at Keswick.