Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Chris's Column - Holding the Ropes

William Carey is known as the Father of Modern Missions. He was a Baptist preacher who later started the missionary movement as we know it today. He coined the expression, “Holding the ropes.” After hearing a preacher say, “There is a gold mine in India; but it seems as deep as the center of the earth; who will venture to explore it?” William Carey responded, “I will go down, but remember that you must hold the rope.”

Holding the ropes is not showing up at a church building once a week, it is not putting in a couple dollars in the offering plate once in a while, and it is not occasionally lifting up a missionary’s name in prayer just before eating supper. Holding the ropes is praying earnestly for your missionaries. It is giving to reach the lost even when it hurts a little. It is being actively involved in the missionaries’ lives. It is knowing their children. It is knowing their hardships and struggles. It is knowing their needs. Then, you are able to pray for them intelligently. It is keeping in touch with them and letting them know that they are not forgotten. Though you may be separated by an ocean, you can still be a part of the missionaries’ lives. They may not see you face to face, but they need to feel you holding the ropes.
Holding the ropes is Team work! You may not realize it, but those that hold the ropes are as important as those that go down into the pit. Most people don’t believe that, so they just walk away from holding the ropes. They think someone else can do their job. That someone else can hold the ropes for the Missionary Family. Missionaries may take all the risks, but that is precisely why we believe “holding the ropes” is just as important as going down into the pit.
If you stop holding the rope, what will happen to the one on the other end of the rope? He will fall to the bottom of the pit and die. He will no longer be able to mine the souls of lost people. The missionaries take many risks, but that is because they have entrusted their lives into your hands, the hands of the rope holders. Just as they cannot quit on the lost souls they are reaching, they trust that you will not quit on them! It truly is teamwork and that’s the way God intended it to be!
I hope you don’t quit your part because you have gotten comfortable living in the U.S. I hope you don’t quit because you have lost your job. I hope you don’t quit because you have become disinterested in church, or simply because you think that someone else can surely hold the rope and take your place. If you think this way, then the missionary may became another casualty in the mine!
The Goforths were missionaries to China. They told the story of a young missionary couple called to Africa, known at the time as “the White Man’s Grave.” This couple with much fear and apprehension said, “We are willing to face the risk if you, our home church, will hold the ropes for us in prayer!” Two years had passed, the missionary had buried his wife and baby on the mission field and now he himself was deathly ill. He returned from Africa unbeknownst to the church folk. He arrived late to the prayer meeting. After the service, the folks were sad to hear of his misfortune. The church folks were grieved even more when the missionary said the following: “This evening as you prayed, I listened anxiously for some mention of my name to see if you were keeping your promise. You prayed for everything connected with your own needs and for the church programs, but you forgot your missionary. I see now why I have failed as a missionary; it is because you failed to hold the ropes!”

The missionary is willing to be down in the pit as long as he knows someone is holding the ropes!
Chris Shull,
Missionary to Greenland


  1. We are here for you, Brother!
    We love and appreciate you and your family, we miss Greenland!

    In Christ,
    Warren and Cathy

  2. What a blessing the internet has been in learning more about our missionaries! We actually can pray with more knowledge now than ever before. It has been a joy to watch your family grow and also get a glimpse into your lives and ministry.

  3. We prayed for you tonight in church and I prayed for you in the midnight hour last night. But I have failed to keep in touch with you and some of our other missionaries as I should. Thanks for the admonition a missionary myself I know what it means to have others holding the ropes for us here...but I must hold the ropes for you all there. Remember this brother, "across the miles, there's someone praying for you".

  4. We had a "class" at Bible school called Hold the Ropes. Actually, just a class period to do exactly what you're writing about here.

  5. Excellent post, and I even linked to it on my blog today in regards to a very special prayer request that came in from Thailand. I know this will encourage those "back home" to keep those prayer closet doors open!


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