More Than Conquerors
Apostle With the Bleeding Feet: Sadhu Sundar Singh
Sadhu Sundar Singh was an Indian Christian missionary. He once said:
“Those who determine not to put self to death will never see the will of God fulfilled in their lives. Those who ought to become the light of the world must necessarily burn and become less and less. By denying self, we are able to win others.”
Upon reading this we are reminded of John 3:30:
He must become greater; I must become less.
Imagine a candle that burns in a dark room.
In order for the flame to remain ignited and to continue shining its light, what needs to happen? The candle wax must burn and become less and less.
In the same way, if we want to continue to shine our lights, we need to endure burning. We must become less and less as He becomes greater.
Born into a Sikh family, Sundar Singh often listened to the teachings of a Sadhu, an ascetic holy man. At the same time, Sundar Singh’s mother also sent him to a Christian mission school to study English.
The death of Sundar Singh’s mother would lead him to live a life that ridiculed Christianity and persecuted missionaries. In a stand of final defiance, he purchased a Bible and burned each page as his friends watched. Eventually, a life of persecuting Christianity brought him to a point where life no longer had meaning – Sundar Singh at the age of 15 was determined to commit suicide on a railway line.
However, Sundar Singh received a vision of Christ that ultimately changed the course of his life. After surrendering his life to Christ, he devoted himself to the sharing of the Gospel. Upon discovering Sundar Singh’s conversion, his father denounced and expelled his son from the family.
This signaled the beginning of a new life for Sundar Singh – a life of servitude paved with great suffering and hardship.
Continuing his journey, he chose to wear a turban and a yellow robe of a Hindu. Sundar Singh saw himself as a sadhu – not towards Hinduism but rather, towards Christianity. He believed that Christianity would not be able to penetrate India unless it was done in an Indian way, or in others words, in a manner by which his fellow Indians would be able to understand the truth he was preaching.
Sundar Singh traveled through regions such as Punjab, Kashmir, Afghanistan, the North-West Frontier, Baluchistan, the Himalayas, and Tibet, boldly preaching the Word of God. However, because his robe was unable to give him protection from the snow, his feet became torn from the rough tracks. Soon, Sundar Singh would be known as “the apostle with the bleeding feet.” Desperate to share with others the Hope that had saved him from darkness, Sundar Singh made sure that this pain did not hinder him from moving forward. While he did experience times of enthusiastic response to the sharing of the Good News, more often did the need to persevere through seasons of hostility, opposition and dissent arise.
On suffering, Sundar Singh said:
During an earthquake it sometimes happens that fresh springs break out in dry places which water and quicken the land so that plants can grow. In the same way the shattering experiences of suffering can cause the living water to well up in a human heart.
Sundar Singh had committed in his heart to endure experiences of suffering so that the springs of living water would well up in his heart — “I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord,” he is recorded as saying, “but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God.”
As a man of God, Sundar Singh had been persecuted, as well as welcomed, rejected, and even left alone to die. However, his mind was “set on the things above, and not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
This week, as we remember the story of Sundar Singh, may we be reminded of the importance of dying to the self, to be the kernel of wheat that falls to the ground to die in order to bear much fruit …for we understand that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Are we willing to endure burning as Christ’s light shines in and through us?