Open Doors

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Missions

Paul urged the Colossians to earnestly pray, in his own words, “that God would open to us a door for the Word . . .” (4:2 NKJV). The gifted apostle did not rely on his own gifts but knew that God must open the door if ever the gospel was to conquer hearts, a city, or a region.

On March 6, 1857 what I call a “dream team” moved to Swatow (today’s Shantou), China. William Chalmers Burns who had seen revival in Scotland, exercised a fruitful ministry already in China, and Hudson Taylor labored together in that city described as a place “without Emperor, without rulers and without law” (God’s Polished Arrow by Dr. Michael McMullen, p. 119). For six months the two men worked side by side. After Taylor left, Burns preached, passed out tracts, and prayed until he received an urgent invitation to return to Amoy, a place where he had previously preached. He consented but only after a young missionary agreed to take his place. But under the labors of Burns and Taylor there was not a single convert!

However, in Amoy there was a wide open door for the gospel. Previously, only a few were converted, but now the windows of heaven were opened. In that area there were now about 300 believers and in addition 15 Chinese evangelists were employed by various missions. This occurred while Burns was absent.

The biographer did not give a follow-up as to what happened in Swatow after Burns left. Yet according to statistics on Google there are today 40,000 Protestants in that city. We may be sure that evangelicals in house churches are not counted in that number. Somewhere along the way the prayers of Burns (who was described by his contemporaries as man of faithfulness and prayer) and Taylor were answered and a door was opened.

Our sovereign God opens doors for gospel work and shuts doors. Yet, it is the duty of the church to pray for open doors as Paul exhorts us in Colossians 4:2.

This article is included in the March 2024 publication of RBNet Monthly. If you would like to receive this and other updates through email, please subscribe to our mailing list below.

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