The sword of the spirit in the Arctic

David Luckman

The intrepid men and women who brought the gospel to the world in the early 20th Century were no strangers to opposition. In the Polar North, one such missionary was Rev. Maurice Flint, who served with Crosslinks in the Arctic from 1936-41. 

Maurice Flint penned a book in 1948 called ‘The Arctic – Land of Snowmen’ and in its pages he recounted his experiences in the Arctic mission field. He recalls a conversation that he had with an old native chief after an evening service that he had conducted:

Native: Teacher, will I go to the great fire because you have been here?
Teacher: Why do you ask that?
Native: The Roman Catholic priest has just been here and he said that if we had you here we would go into the great fire.
Teacher: What did you answer?
Native: I don’t know whether I was right, but I said that I cannot go to hell because I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Teacher: What did the priest say then?
Native: He said that I was an ignorant man; I could not go to heaven unless I did the right things, and having you here was wrong and evil.
Teacher: What did you say to that?
Native: I don’t know whether I was right, but I opened my New Testament here at Ephesians 2, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast”.    
Teacher: What did the priest say then?
Native: He said I was ignorant and must pray to Saint Teresa who could hear prayers more quickly than Jesus, who being God could not be approached by sinful man. Saint Teresa would ask the Virgin Mary, who, being the mother of Jesus, could present our needs and He would never deny anything to her.
Teacher: And what did you say?
Native: I don’t know whether I was right, teacher, but I opened my New Testament at Hebrews 4, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God…let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”.
Teacher: Truly you did well, but what did the priest do?
Native: I don’t know what was wrong, but he grew angry and left the house.

Rev. Flint concluded: 'Wherever the standard of the Bible Churchman (now Crosslinks) flaunts the breeze of criticism and ridicule, or rides the storm of opposition and hatred, the "sword of the Spirit" darts forward to subdue and conquer all that would hinder the extension of His kingdom.'

Opposition and hatred shouldn’t surprise us if we belong to Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, Jesus warned his disciples of the vitriol that can come to an obedient life lived for the glory of God. Jesus warned his followers that the world will hate them because the world hates him. If we take up our cross and follow Jesus, we shall share in his sufferings. But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world through his death on the cross for us. Now risen and ascended, Jesus will return to take us to the place where there will be no more opposition or pain, or suffering, or weeping, or loneliness or death. Amen. Come Lord Jesus!