A nameless man left his home in Ireland to spread the gospel in Peru. No one listened. As far as we know, not one person came to Christ under his ministry.
When he died in the mountain village where he had given his life, the villagers refused to bury him in the respectable cemetery. That was reserved for faithful Roman Catholics. They laid the missionary to rest with criminals, homosexuals, suicide victims, and other social outcasts. No fancy gravestone recorded his name for posterity. A simple pile of stones marked the spot of this man who, though he was faithful, gave his life for nothing.
A single lady gave it another try. Mabel Walker, an American, fared a little better. From her faithful efforts to plant the seed of the gospel in this rocky soil, she saw several people saved, mostly children. Yet after years of service, she left Peru with no churches started, no lasting ministry to show for her work.
Twenty years later, Bob and Betty Whatley left the jungle and came to that same mountain valley. They gave it another try. At first they saw little fruit, but after a few years, things began to change. After years of indifference, the Peruvians grew interested in the gospel. This slow, unfruitful field became incredibly receptive.
Today, in many areas, Peruvians mob missionaries for tracts, then sit down and read them immediately. Churches are springing up everywhere. Peruvians come to the city and are saved. Then they return to their villages to share Christ with friends and relatives. Once a group of believers is formed, they beg missionaries to help them start a church.
This area of Peru now has more than one hundred fundamental Baptist churches. Missionaries cannot begin to meet the needs of Peruvian churches crying out for help, much less start churches in every place Christians are begging for them to come.
Of course, Satan won’t give up Peru easily. Pockets of great opposition still slow the spread of the gospel. In some areas, school teachers refuse to pass students who attend Baptist church services.
Other schools, however, invite missionaries to come and teach Bible classes. Today, missionaries to Peru are reaping an abundant harvest of souls.
And what about the Irish missionary who so faithfully planted the gospel, yet died in apparent failure? Today Peruvians lead Bob Whatley to the little pile of stones that cover his grave. “This man,” they tell him, “told us about Jesus.”
Across the world today, missionaries and pastors grieve over fields that produce little, if any, fruit. They’d gladly give their lives to bring souls to Christ and build a lasting ministry. Yet in the middle of their apparent failure, Satan whispers, “Why give your life for nothing?”
The cemetery in Peru is still filled with the bodies of criminals, outcasts, and one nameless missionary whose life ended—in failure. Few would desire such a site for a final resting place. Bob Whatley, however, disagrees. He says, “When I die, bury me beside that old missionary. He was faithful.”