We need heroes of the faith outside of those we encounter in the words of the Bible. The more I read of such people the more I realise that I am “a fat lazy slacker” (in the words of the prophet). I had heard of Willie Burton before reading this, now I stand in awe of him.
W.F.P. Burton. Born in Liverpool, England in 1886, William Burton had been dedicated by his parents to God’s work in Africa even before he was born. He came to the Lord in 1905 under the preaching of R.A. Torrey. In 1914 he set sail for the Congo in Africa where he learned the native language and made some of the first maps of the country. Together with James Salter, who later married Smith Wigglesworth’s daughter, they started a work that became known as the Congo Evangelistic Mission. God confirmed his word with ‘signs following’ and hundreds of indigenous churches were planted amongst those who had never before heard the Gospel. When Willie Burton died in 1971, he was traveling with all that he owned in two suitcases; one for clothes and the other for his books.
Ngoimani, March 7th, 1917.
The rain is coming down in torrents. The ground outside is all ‘on the swim,’ and the tent in which I sit is waving and slapping as the wind catches it, and the noise of the water pelting on to my outer canvas tent-fly is like a great roar. Thunder is rolling and lightning is vividly flashing. During the dry parts of the day all the ropes and canvas are slack and limp, but as soon as the rain comes, everything soon becomes taut and rigid. I got a lot of inspiration from these howling, rushing, crashing storms.
How often God’s children get slack, lacking in energy, and lose the sense of the awful consequences of a soul dropping into hell, and forget the grandness and completeness of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus. What is needed is a heavenly storm, a tornado that turns things over, and discovers the leaky places in the tent. It is God alone who can show us our own littleness and defects, but it is I alone who can allow Him to do so. Search me, O God, through and through, I want not one scrap of leaven, not one leaky spot in my tent, not one day’s time to be burned up in wood, hay, and stubble.
Missionary Pioneering in Congo Forests. A narrative of the labors of William F.P.Burton. P64/65