I am very excited about the children’s book on the life of missionary Helen Roseveare that we’re offering this month. It is supremely important that the memory of those who invested their lives for the sake of the Gospel are not forgotten.
By the time I was ten, I was familiar with Dr. Roseveare’s name. I knew that she had graduated as a doctor from Cambridge University and that she had gone to a country in sub-Saharan Africa which was then the Belgian Congo. She had joined the WEC (Worldwide Evangelization Crusade), and I knew of it because one of my father’s sisters had gone with that group to serve—and all too quickly to die from an incurable infection—in Northern India. As a child, I was keenly aware of what it meant for people to go to the ends of the earth with the story of the Gospel. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer who spent thirty years in southern, central, and eastern Africa, was part of our proud history as a nation.
Fast-forward a decade and a half, and I was invited to be part of the speaking team at a conference in the Highland town of Strathpeffer. I can still recall the combination of excitement and awe I felt when I discovered that Helen Roseveare was part of the team and that we would be staying in the same small private hotel. It was on that weekend that I was also to meet and become a friend of T. S. Mooney (more of him in another letter).
The evening conversations by the fireplace, which I listened to rather than participated in, were memorable, to say the least. One of Helen’s talks during the weekend has stayed with me. She began by showing pictures of road signs that she had passed on her way to Strathpeffer. One of the signs read “MEN AT WORK.” She proceeded to point out that when she had driven past, there were no men to be seen. This, she said, was representative of the state of modern missions—a distinct absence of men taking up the call of God and being prepared to say, “I will go wherever He is calling me. I lose my life to find my life in Him. I give my all to gain the hope that never dies. I bow my heart, take up my cross, and follow Him.” In an unmistakably gracious manner, she took the opportunity to sound the call of the kingdom.
In 2016, I was invited to preach in Northern Ireland, and while there for a few days, I had the immense privilege of visiting Helen as her earthly pilgrimage was drawing to a close. I sat by her bed, looking into her lovely eyes and doing all the talking. I asked questions, and then I tried to guess what her answers would have been if she were talking. When the time came for me to leave, her roommate said to her, “Helen, do you not have a blessing or something to say to Alistair as he leaves?” Taking my hand, she pulled me close enough to hear her whisper, “Keep on keeping on!” Since then, on occasions when I am tempted to throw in the towel, or at least to slacken off, I recall her benediction, and I keep on going.
After you read her inspiring life story to your children or grandchildren, let me encourage you to do your soul good by purchasing and reading Helen’s autobiography, titled Give Me This Mountain. You will not be disappointed.
Soon after Susan and I came to America, we enjoyed the benefit of having Helen visit and speak at Parkside Church. I recently learned that we have audio from her time with us, during which she was kind enough to share her remarkable experiences and encourage all of us at Parkside to be diligent in our service to God’s will for our lives. You can hear this recording in full on our website at truthforlife.org/helen.
Helen lived her life in light of the verse she was given when she was converted: “... that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).
Keep on keeping on!
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg