Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today in the Lectionary, on the anniversary of his death in 1851, we remember Allen Gardiner, a missionary who founded the South American Mission Society. Formerly serving in the Royal Navy, he felt called to mission work and first went to Africa in 1834, where he started a missionary station in present day South Africa. He subsequently founded a mission at Hambanathi, which means ‘come with us.’

Life was not easy; not only was his work opposed by various governments, but missionary societies in England failed to support him, due to lack of funds. His final journey took him to Picton Island, where he and his companions eventually died of starvation after supplies were detained in the Falkland Islands for want of a vessel, Gardiner himself, the last survivor, believed to have died on 6th September, 1851.

As I read about this sincere, determined man who faced frustration and failure because of opposition and lack of support both in the mission field and in England I realised that determination is not always sufficient, and respected him for persevering despite opposition. I also realised how fortunate we are to be able to express our faith and worship freely, when there are countries where Christians are still persecuted for their faith.

Let us pray for the universal church, for church leaders, and for all who profess the faith, remembering especially those who are unable to worship openly and freely. May they know the peace which passes all understanding.

 [Thelma Shacklady]