But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” [Neh 6:11-12]

“We are neither to give in, nor opt out. Instead we are to stay in and stand firm, like a rock in a mountain stream, like a rose blooming in mid winter, like a lily growing in a manure heap.” -John Stott

In his excellent record of the invasion of “D-Day,” Stephen E. Ambrose tells of his first encounter with General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. Seeing he was from New Orleans, Ike asked Ambrose if he knew Andrew Higgins. Ambrose replied, “No sir, he died before I entered the city.”  That’s too bad the general replied, “He won the war for us.”

 Have you ever heard of him? You know Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, but Higgins? Here is the interesting part. He never shot a gun, never drove a tank and never dropped a bomb. What did he do? He designed and produced some 20,000 LCVPs [Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnel] that enabled our troops to land on the beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, Iwo Jima, and other spots scattered across the Pacific. This unknown and unsung hero “won the war for us.”

It is not just the ones who capture headlines that are essential in battle. Battles are won by the troops, the individual soldier who stands by his post, who completes her assignment. This is especially true in the fight for faith. There are those who stand out front, who have songs written about their accomplishments, but in the army of God, acclaim by the masses is not the ultimate badge of success. Faithfulness to the Lord’s calling, no matter where he has placed us is the true test of greatness. Here are some examples of what I am writing about.

I heard about this unsung hero when my good friend Bracy Ball had the opportunity to meet with Hudson Taylor III, in Singapore. Hudson was the great, great grandson of Hudson Taylor, the famed pioneer and founder of the China Inland Mission. At the time, he was the busy overseer of Overseas Missionary Fellowship.Bracy was passing through the city and wanted to get his perspective on some biblical counseling materials. As you might expect from a man of such prominence, his schedule was full and would not be able to meet Bracy on such a short notice. Then, Bracy said that John Broger had asked him to stop. The secretary conveyed that message to Hudson and he immediately made an appointment with Bracy.

When Bracy sat down with Taylor, this seasoned missionary said to Bracy, “Do you know who John Broger is?” Bracy said, “Sure.” He knew he was a godly man who had founded the Biblical Counseling Foundation. He knew that he was in the navy in WWII, was a missionary in China, head of the communications for the Pentagon and once was asked to be a member of Reagan’s cabinet, etc. “Do you know who John Broger is? “In my opinion, he has done more for the cause of Christ in the 20th century than any other man.” Bracy was taken back. How could that be? Taylor went on to explain that John had been instrumental in the setting up of the Far East Broadcasting stations that broadcast the gospel through the bamboo curtain of China. According to Taylor, millions of Chinese became believers in Jesus Christ because of the pioneer work of Broger. Who knew?       

Let me give you another example of unsung heroes. Few knew the name of Eric Liddell until the production of the movie, “Chariots of Fire.” Liddell won the 400 meters in the 1924 Olympics. The uniqueness of his accomplishment was built upon his refusal to run the 100 meters because it was held on Sunday. His strong Christian faith would not allow him to participate on the Lord’s day.

What is not portrayed in the movie is Liddell’s later missionary service in China. While he was there, the Japanese invaded China and he was captured and interned in a prisoner of war camp. He would die in that camp. In recent years, several surviving children of that camp have reported the life changing influence Uncle Eric had on their lives. One of those was named Hudson Taylor III. He has testified that Eric Liddell was responsible for leading him to the Lord. Who knew?    

Here is a completely different kind of example. In my home church there was a lady named Barbara. She was what we would today call, mentally challenged. Her teeth were mostly gone, she was pigeon toed, walked with a distinct limp, and her dress was less than attractive. She still lived with her parents and the only friends she had was the church family that loved her.

On one occasion, my father preached a sermon where he declared that God had a ministry for every believer and urged them to find their place of service in God’s kingdom. After the service, she came up to my dad and asked what she could do. My father, for the moment, was taken back. Then he said, “Let me pray about that.” Barbara came to church very early the following Sunday. She couldn’t wait to find out what her ministry would be. My dad was ready. He brought out our denomination’s weekly magazine. He told her that she could stamp that magazine with our Church information. She was thrilled. Every Sunday after that, Barbara showed up early on Sunday to fulfill her ministry to the Lord. She was faithful to her calling. In heaven she is a hero. Who knew? 

Whether a servant is out front making headlines, or back home under the radar, building LCVP’s, establishing radio stations, discipling children or stamping Christian literature, there is one principle that determines success in Christian ministry: faithfulness to the calling God has placed upon our lives. Every believer has a calling. Every believer has gifts. Every believer is stationed for service. God is pleased with our faithfulness. He will determine the results.  

Nehemiah is another example of an unsung hero. I know he has a book named after him, but when did you ever sing a song about him: Moses, yes; David, yes; Daniel, yes, but not Nehemiah. Why? Because all he did was rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He was not a general, a prophet nor was he a priest. He was a builder. But God used him to bring glory to his name and joy to His people. He lived in Susa, a part of the Persian Empire. God had deliberately placed him there for that moment in history. His call came in a simple report from Jerusalem. He heard that the city walls of Jerusalem were broken down and burned. No angel spoke, no blinding light, just a report. But, because the name of the Lord was at stake, he saw a need. That need was his call.

Whether you are building for the Lord or leading troupes for the Lord, you will be tested by problems and committed enemies. The enemies of Nehemiah tried everything to get him to stop the building. They ridiculed the work, circulated false rumors and threatened them with violence. When that didn’t work, the conspirators tried subterfuge. They tried to get Nehemiah to come and meet with them. He told them he was too busy doing something too important to stop and meet with them. Finally, when all else failed, they came up with a plot to discredit Nehemiah in the eyes of the people. They had one of their “plants” tell Nehemiah that an assassination party was coming to kill him that night and that for his safety he should flee to the Temple. That is when he made his famous reply: “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” [Neh 6:11-12]  

It is possible that I am writing to some who don’t see themselves as called, gifted or stationed. Perhaps you feel set aside because you are too ill or too old. I would urge you to re-think about who you are. If you are a believer in Jesus, you are a soldier in his army. You are called. You are stationed. You are His. You may never be known on earth, but your name is known in heaven. Now, should such a person like you stop the work or run away? I don’t think so! The Lord stationed you there and you won’t budge. “We are neither to give in, nor opt out. Instead we are to stay in and stand firm, like a rock in a mountain stream, like a rose blooming in mid winter, like a lily growing in a manure heap.”