AN­OTHER KIND OF HERO

Activated - - NEWS - By Elsa Sichrovsky Elsa Sichrovsky is a free­lance writer. She lives with her fam­ily in south­ern Tai­wan.

When I was an ide­al­is­tic four­teen-year-old, I read a bi­og­ra­phy of David Brain­erd. I loved read­ing about mis­sion­ar­ies like David Liv­ing­stone, C. T. Studd, and Amy Carmichael. They seemed to have no trou­ble in­spir­ing de­voted converts who made every sac­ri­fice vis­i­bly worth­while. But Brain­erd’s story got off to a tragic start. The rea­son I remember so clearly how old I was when I read about him is be­cause by the time he was my age, he was an or­phan. I still had both of my parents, with many happy years left to en­joy both of them.

As I read on, I was stag­gered by the depth of his suf­fer­ing. Yet his jour­nals and prayers were char­ac­ter­ized by a de­ter­mi­na­tion and pas­sion to glo­rify God and de­vote his whole self en­tirely to His ser­vice. Read­ing his thoughts on the hard­ships of im­part­ing the Chris­tian faith to Na­tive Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties that were trou­bled with al­co­holism and de­struc­tive pa­gan prac­tices caused me to mar­vel at how easy my life was in com­par­i­son and chal­lenged me to as­pire to greater spir­i­tual de­vo­tion. The rugged path he chose to tread drew him to pur­sue in­ti­macy with Christ, and he didn’t let the pain har­den his soul.

In ad­di­tion to spir­i­tual strug­gles, his body was wracked with in­tense pain due to se­vere tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, which was badly ag­gra­vated by his poverty and stren­u­ous life­style. His ini­tial evan­ge­lis­tic ef­forts failed to make much of an im­pres­sion, and the lack of suc­cess caused deep de­spair to cloud his earnest heart. Nev­er­the­less, through his fre­quent bouts of the dis­ease that would take his life, and the de­pres­sion that at times drove him to the brink of sui­cide, Brain­erd per­se­vered.

By the time I fin­ished Brain­erd’s bi­og­ra­phy, I found that while my pre­vi­ously fa­vored il­lus­tri­ous-hero-style bi­og­ra­phy was in­spir­ing in its own way, Brain­erd’s story had a finer beauty. Years have passed since I first dis­cov­ered Brain­erd’s coura­geous spirit and un­di­vided de­vo­tion to Christ, but I’m still en­cour­aged by his ded­i­ca­tion when my own Chris­tian walk looks more rou­tine and com­mon than fruit­ful and suc­cess­ful.

Brain­erd was a mis­sion­ary at a time and place dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from my own, and I may never face the in­cred­i­ble amount of ad­ver­sity that he did, yet I have the same mis­sion—to re­flect God to a world in need of His love and light—and the same God who can help me over­come what­ever ob­sta­cles I face.

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