At his request, the casket was very plain, made of wood. The service was simple, with an emphasis on world evangelism and the work of Jesus Christ. Venn’s desire was that his death would not draw attention to himself, but to the work of Christ that he gave his life to do. But as hundreds gathered to pay homage to this man, it became obvious that the two could not be separated. Henry Venn’s life was the work of World Evangelism. Venn’s mission society recorded the following about him at his death:
The Church Missionary Society will never have another Henry Venn. No one man could now carry the whole work upon his shoulders as he practically did and no man could, in these faster days, work on as he did for thirty years. But the Lord raises up just such instruments as He needs for this and that period of His Church’s history for this and that sphere of work for Him. And though it is right and good that we should love and honour those who have gone before and in whose steps we seem so feebly to follow, let us remember that all alike are but as earthen vessels and that God uses such for the express purpose that the glory shall be His alone. Not Pratt or Bickersteth not Venn or Wright or Wigram, it is the Lord of Hosts Himself that is with us for our Captain.
On this day in 1922, Peter Torjesen, a Norwegian missionary with the China Inland Mission, was married to his childhood sweetheart, Valborg Tonnessen, in a simple Norwegian ceremony in the heart of China.
Fourteen years earlier, seventeen-year-0ld Peter was attending a meeting when a missions mobilizer stood up and gave an appeal to surrendering your life to Christ, with an emphasis on the work in China. Peter’s heart was stirred and when the offering plate was passed around, he emptied his wallet into the plateit (which wasn’t very much). But more importantly, he slipped a small peace of paper into the plate with the words, “Og mit liv”(“And my life”). It was that night that Peter surrendered his life to the Lord’s work.
When Peter and Valborg were married, they went before the board and asked to be assigned to the hardest post in China. So they were sent to Hequ, a city of 10,000 alongside the Great Wall and the edge of a fearsome desert. For fifteen years, this brave couple advanced the cause of Christ, seeing much fruit. During WWII, they used their mission station as a haven for refuges, saving thousands. Peter stayed in Hequ until his death in 1939. But even today, the work Peter started is being continued in the country he committed and gave his life to reach.
On this day in 1901, Elias Riggs, Bible translator and missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, died. For sixty-eight years, Elias served with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The board was still in its early stages when Elias joined, which made him a valuable missionary in these early years.
The majority of Elias’ ministry was spent in the Ottoman Empire (Modern Turkey and surrounding areas). He was a gifted linguistic and this was a great gift for him to have in a land where so many nationalities were pushed into such a small area. He found himself working among three distinct groups: The Armenians, the Turks, and the Bulgarians. Each group had its own challenges and rewards. Among the Bulgarians he found a group of people who were especially hungry to hear the truth. But the biggest obstacle he faced was that neither group had a Bible in their language, and each group spoke a different language. So to fix this, he did the only thing he could do: he translated the Bible into Armenian, Bulgarian, and Turkish.
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