by Christopher Harbin

Unsung Leaders
Christopher B. Harbin
Psalm 145; Zechariah 9:9-12; Mat 11:16-30; Rom 7:15-25a

I grew up on various hero tales. I heard tall tales of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. I heard stories of bigger than life heroes Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. I learned of Paul Revere's midnight ride, Washington's rag-tag army, and Patrick Henry's famous declaration of audacity. I heard stories of a western push, settling the frontiers, of railroads, gold rushes, and the industrialization of a nation. I heard less of John Leland, Isaac Backus, Roger Williams and other Baptists who pushed for religious freedom and separation of church and state.

There were always those who were barely mentioned. Then there were the stories that were just not told. I heard of Lottie Moon's missionary efforts in China. I heard of William Carey embarking on a missionary venture to India, though I missed the conflict with the economic interests of colonialism. I heard little of those Baptists, Methodists, and others who took the gospel west along with the population of settlers. I heard nothing of those emigrating to new lands, bearing the gospel of Christ there without the backing of a sending agency.

I heard stories of gold, land, freedom, and economic advancement much more often than stories of faith. I heard far more exploits of war and plunder than a mission of the gospel of Christ Jesus. I heard de-humanizing accounts of enemy populations more than recognition of God's love for them. At church, however, I heard of Christians hiding Jews in their homes in Nazi Germany. I heard of the smuggling of Bibles into Russia. I heard of missionaries and laymen risking their lives to share the gospel in lands officially closed to the gospel of Christ. These heroes most often had no names. They were unknown, unseen, mentioned once, and then seemingly forgotten.

Classroom history focused on wars, generals, presidents, kings, high officials, and major events among similar po ...

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