Friday, August 10, 2007

Necessity is the Mother of … Missions

Having been a physics student I was able to meet some interesting people and hear some interesting stories. One visiting lecturer was Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb, but my favorite was one of his assistants while he was working on the Manhattan Project, which was America’s project to develop the first Atomic Bomb during World War II. This man, Worth Seagondollar, who’s very name is a conversation piece, was a graduate student at the time working with Dr. Teller. However, in my day as a student he was a professor at our university.

Dr. Seagondollar often gives lectures about his experience on the bomb team, and one such story – I might get a few minor details wrong here – is one that I often like to retell. The day before the initial bomb test in New Mexico Dr. S. and a small team had to drive to the other side of the vast test sight – some 30 miles – to set up test equipment for the upcoming blast. Such an explosion had never taken place on the planet, and some scientists speculated that it would be so powerful that it might set the earth’s atmosphere on fire. These young men set out upon their task using an Army 2.5 ton truck for transportation. All went well with setting up the equipment except for one small snag, they had a flat tire!

Well, they had a spare and a jack, so all seemed well; however, there was no lug wrench for the enormous bolts that held the tire on. Of course they could just camp out and be vaporized the next morning, but ingenuity and motivation quickly took over. The solution was to use a large
ball-peen hammer to unscrew the bolts by beating them in a circular motion. After much work the tire was off, the new one was on and the once hexagonal bolts were beat back on never to be removed again by a wrench. The adventurous group finally made it safely back.

The next day Worth was invited to see the first Atomic Bomb test. He sat in a trench with the rest of the observers clutching an eye shield made from many plates of welders glasses taped together. A few seconds after the blast they all lifted their heads, and Worth’s first reaction was that he had forgotten to use his eye protection. It was reported that the light was so bright that a blind man over 50 miles away saw it. The atmosphere did not catch on fire, but the world has been more dangerous ever since.

Motivation and ingenuity in such circumstances know no boundaries. Motivation of this level cannot take “no” for an answer. With the crudest of tools these men saved their own lives. In God’s kingdom motivation in the extreme has led many Christians to do exploits for God using next to nothing while some of the best-equipped people never take the first step simply because of apathy.

In our desire to
reach the nations the motivation to win for the Lamb the glory due His suffering must precede any form or strategy. We must begin with the thought that it must be done and that we must do it. We then proceed to the “how”. We will not be saving ourselves, but we will be leading others away from a Godless eternity.

I thank God for the many missionaries from different denominations who hammered their way onto the mission filed. Even though a great many tools have been developed since the early days of missions pioneering I hope we never fail to maintain the same determination that unlocked the nations for those of us who follow.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2-3