“They kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus.” – Acts 5:42
I love to read about the boldness of the apostles recorded in the book of Acts. They were pioneers of the faith, boldly leading the way. A “pioneer Christian” is not concerned about what others say, but rather is more concerned with what God has to say. They lead the way, focused and driven by the God given call upon his or her life. They live in such a way that long after they are gone, people still benefit from their witness for Christ. With this in mind, I pose a question; are you a pioneer Christian?
In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles experience imprisonment and are flogged for their faith in Christ. What is their response? They make it clear to their adversaries that they are determined to obey God rather than men, and that they cannot nor will not keep quiet about Jesus Christ. As they depart their adversaries, they leave with joy in their hearts, only determined to proclaim Christ even more.
When I think about pioneer Christians, I am also reminded of great missionaries of yesteryear. For instance, man by the name of James Chalmers comes to mind. Chalmers was born in 1841. At age eighteen in 1859 he felt the call of God upon his life to do mission work. In 1877 at the age of 36 he sailed for the Cook Islands of Polynesia to join a pioneer mission work in New Guinea. Chalmers led many locals to Christ in his 24 years there. He kept going, no matter how tough the circumstances were. Chalmers was known for his zeal for the Lord, and with this God-given zeal, he faithfully continued to press on with the gospel. He passionately and vigorously witnessed without compromise to the savage locals about Jesus Christ, and no matter the results, he never gave up. Eventually Chalmers was murdered by cannibals in 1901 at the age of sixty. But his legacy lived on and his story did not end there. Forty years later, his impact on the country of New Guinea was still felt. During World War II, some American fighter pilots were shot down over New Guinea. These American fighters were led to Christ by former cannibals who had been initially led to Christ by James Chalmers.
I also think about another missionary by the name of John G. Paton (1824-1907). He was a Scottish preacher and missionary to the people of the New Hebrides Islands of the South Pacific. It was a region known for savages and cannibals. Before Paton’s missionary departure, an older man from his homeland asked him to reconsider going to such a dangerous region. “You will be eaten by cannibals!” the man exclaimed. Paton’s response was chilling; “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the great day my resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”
A pioneer Christian is not interested in simply meeting what seems to be the some sort of “status quo” of the Christian life. They are not persuaded by the attractive words of man. They are not tossed by the unexpected waves on the sea of life. Instead, the pioneer Christian looks out at the horizon of life and sees obstacles as opportunities. They are selfless, understanding the biblical principle of what it means to die to self and to live for Christ. They understand the cost of taking up their cross and following Christ. They stay focused on their mission, and have one goal in mind; to run the race and fight the good fight for the glory of God.
God is looking for radical pioneer Christians and I can say with confidence that He is calling all of us to be pioneer Christians. Let us commit in our hearts that we too are going to be radical pioneers for Christ, blazing a path for the glory of God.