This year, I stepped aside from being the pastor of a church in Chaska, Minnesota, and began a new chapter of my life. Initially, I had two things to do. Firstly, I had to refocus my ministry. What was it that God wanted me to focus on in the future. The answer was to focus on writing, including the Langstaff Letters, and also completing a book on our life here in America. Secondly, I was to develop a new structure to my daily life. As a pastor, I had a weekly schedule and plans for each day of the week. Now all that had changed, so I had to develop a new structure to my days.
Since I am now at home with my wife Dorothy more of the time, one of the goals was to build in more time with her. So, we are now taking a break each day for morning coffee at 10 AM and listening to a 15-minute radio program, produced by Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, that tells the story of great Christians.
Not only do they dramatized the lives of well known Christian heroes such as John Wesley, Gladys Alward, Billy Sunday, etc., they also have stories of great heroes that I had not particularly known off or remembered. One of the recent ones was Samuel Schereschewsky.
A LITTLE KNOWN HERO
Samuel’s life is a beautiful testimony of faithful service and in particular, the last 25 years of his life as a testimony to his persistent commitment to the task God had given him to do. But first a little bit about his life story.
His full name is Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky. Wow, what a name! Born in Russian Lithuania in 1831, he was orphaned as a small boy. He was probably raised by his half brother. Along the way, he received a good education.
When he began work at 15, as he was obligated to support himself, he worked as a glazier. While he was at a rabbinical school, he was given a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew, which he studied, becoming convinced that Jesus was the messiah of the Old Testament prophecies.
He went on to study in Germany, and then in 1854, he immigrated to the United States. In New York, he connected with Christian Jews. After a period of studies, he offered himself for work in China. He arrives in Shanghai on December 21, 1859, to begin his ministry. In 1861, he began translating the Bible into Chinese, beginning with the Psalms. He eventually served as Bishop of Shanghai until 1883 when he resigned for health reasons. He had become incapacitated after suffering from sunstroke. He was paralyzed in every limb, and his power of speech was nearly gone. He sat for 25 years in the same chair slowly and painfully typing out with two fingers his translation of the Bible into Chinese. A contemporary called him ‘probably the greatest Bible translator China ever had.’ He died in 1906.
I might add that he was wonderfully supported by his wife all those years. I couldn’t help but keep thinking of this man, paralyzed, typing a translation of the Bible into Chinese using only two fingers for over 25 years. An unsung hero if ever there was one.
Recently, I came across a devotional by David Jeremiah about ‘Unsung Heroes.’ He wrote, “History is full of unsung heroes-people who were faithful, true, servant-minded, and did it all with no expectation of praise or reward. In our modern era, think of teachers, helpful neighbors, first responders, members of the military, and so many more.”
Look around you and recognize the unsung heroes who make life better for all of us. David Jeremiah goes on to use the illustration of Joseph, the husband of Mary, when he writes, “The biblical stories reveal unsung heroes as well; one of the most prominent of which was Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus. We meet Joseph in the early chapters of Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth and then he disappears from sight once Jesus begins His ministry. But we are safe in saying that Joseph took upon himself the most difficult task of shepherding the mother of Jesus, and then Jesus Himself, through the perilous days before and after Jesus’ birth. Joseph was a father who took God at His Word (Matthew 1:20- 25). Given Jesus’ precocious nature at age twelve (Luke 2:41-52), Joseph must have nurtured Jesus’ spiritual development from an early age. Faithful fathers don’t worry about rewards or credit. They depend on eternity to reveal the fruit of their faithfulness to their children.”
We can all be unsung heroes along the way, serving God and others without seeking recognition or praise. The world needs more of them. So, let us all be unsung heroes.