The Tale is Told
A preacher ascends to his pulpit to tell the story of a missionary.
A young man answered God’s call to preach the gospel in foreign parts. The congregation was ecstatic. God’s praises were proclaimed loudly. He enrolled in Bible School, took the required courses. He built his life on prayer and study of the word. On completing his studies, he returned to his home. Again, it was all celebration. A week of food and festivities.
On the eve of his departure, there was a final service of prayer. He was commissioned with the laying on of hands. This young man implored the home congregation to prayer for him — every day, and every Sunday. Pray specifically for him, his ministry, and the tribe with which he would work. Promises of faithfulness in prayer were made. And with that, he left.
Ten years later, an unknown man visited this place for a prayer meeting. His breathing was haggard, he coughed frequently. Like his health, his body was broken. He walked with a limp. After service, he stood and in a rasping voice asked to address those gathered. He explained.
‘Ten years ago, I left this place with promises that you would pray for me and for my missionary labors in a far-off tribe. Now I have returned. Tonight, I heard my name mentioned not one time. There were no prayers for me, for my health, my ministry, or the people among whom I labored.’
His disfigurement made him unrecognizable, and when he told them his name, the congregation was stunned. Weeping followed. Many confessed their prayerlessness. Revival broke out all over again.
An apocryphal illustration is a fictitious story that is told as though it were true in order to achieve a spiritual end. Some may call this manipulation, and others may call it lying. But in fundamentalism, it is beyond doubt that apocryphal illustrations and stories get people recommitted to the Lord and perhaps even outright saved.
If your heart is right with the Lord, who is going to complain about that?