September 28, 2016

Philippians 1:21 – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

William (Bill) Wallace served the Chinese people for 15 years only to be brutally murdered as a martyr on February 10, 1951. Bill was born in 1908 in Tennessee. He was the son of a physician.

While working on a car in the family garage, a nagging question haunted him, “What should I do with my life? No, what would God have me do with my life?” With his bible in his hand, he committed his life to be a medical missionary on July 5, 1925. He never looked back or wavered. 

On July 25, 1935, ten years to the month from the time he made his garage commitment and recorded it on the back leaf of his bible, he was appointed as a medical missionary to Wuchow, South China. 

On September 1, 1935, five weeks after his appointment and just prior to leaving for China, Bill Wallace addressed his home church, Broadway Baptist Church. Here is what he said – 

I want to express to you my sincere and heartfelt appreciation in making it possible for me to go to China as your missionary, your ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ . . . You may ask why do I want to go to China . . . and there spend my life and energy. You might say there is much to be done in this country and many have said you can do a lot of good here. Why should I go when there are such hardships and inconveniences? The only answer I have is that it is God’s plan that I go. 

And God’s call was so definite to me. I think he made it definite for me so that there would be no doubt in my mind as to God’s plan. So that through the long years of preparation there would be no doubt that I was doing God’s will. That has been a comfort and joy to me and I have often thought, “If God ca be for me who can be against me?”

I want to go because of the needs. And how great is that need! China today is ready and willing to hear and accept the gospel of the Lord Jesus. In Luke 10:2 we read, “the harvest truly is great, . . . pray ye therefore . . . that he would send forth laborers into the harvest.” In our mission field today in China and in other countries, hundreds and thousands are going to their death without knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ because we do not have enough missionaries to tell the story. 

I want to go to China because someone has prayed . . . and God heard these prayers and has answered as he always does when God’s people pray. I would rather be going out as God’s missionary this morning than anything else in the world. 

If there is one final word or request that I leave with you it is this – that you would pray for me, pray daily that this, your humble servant’s ministry and work might be all that God would have it to be.

Bill Wallace lived such an impactful life that a Chinese believer said of him, “He actually lived before us the life of Christ.” What a glorious testimony of a life well lived. One that advanced the Gospel for the glory of His Precious Savior Jesus.

Upon Bill Wallace’s death, Dr. Theron Rankin, Executive Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board wrote the following letter – 

When God chooses someone to make a superlative witness of His love, He chooses a superlative child of His. He chose His Own Son, Jesus, to make the witness on the Cross. And now it seems that He chose Bill to make this witness. To give his life in love and service for the people whom he served fits in naturally and harmoniously with Bill’s life. The two things go together because he was that kind of man. His life’s service among men bears out the testimony of his death. Bill’s death was not the result of his being caught by a situation from which he could not escape. He deliberately chose his course with a committal that made him ready to take any consequences that might come. 

There was no funeral service for Bill Wallace. The Chinese government would not allow it. A grave was dug, and a nailed shut coffin was lowered into the ground. The soldiers stayed until the burial was complete and then they drove everyone away from this lonely, unmarked grave. However, it did not stay unmarked. Despite danger to themselves, friends of the brave doctor collected funds for a marker and built a small monument over the solitary grave site. Inscribed were seven single words that accurately captured the heart and life of this missionary servant: “For to me to live is Christ.” And we know the rest of the story: “And to die is gain.”

Whether God’s call upon our life is to China or right here in Shelby County, the call is the same – “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

(This devotional is based on Chapter Three of Five Who Changed the World by Daniel L. Akin)