April 28, 2016
Griffith John was a contemporary of Hudson Taylor in China. One of theses two men is well known all over the globe--and has been an inspiration to the Christian church ever since--while the other has been all but forgotten.
Griffith was brought up in the same Chapel as I was in Swansea, South Wales and the author of this new biography taught me in school (though that isn't the reason why I'm commending the book).
Griffith John deserves to be remembered for his sacrificial labors for the sake of the Gospel; and, Evangelical Press are to be commended for commissioning this biography in their series of Bitesize Biographies.
Griffith John exercised a remarkable pioneer ministry for 50 years in China and his desire to reach the unreached remained with him throughout his life. He returned to Britain in 1911 and left behind him many churches with a combined membership of over 100,000 Christians and yet, in all likelihood, you've never heard of him.
Two particular things stand our for me from this biography. First a quote from the start of his ministry:
"There is a glorious work before me. When looking at it, I cannot but rejoice, but with trembling. It is both humbling and cheering. Oh that I could but feel that I am not my own, and that I am thoroughly consecrated to God. How difficult it is to get rid of selifishness. The drunkard may set aside his drunkenness, the blasphemer his blasphemy, his curses and oaths, but it is almost impossible to destroy self and live, to be and not to be at the same time. Self clings to us wherever we go; we find it with us in all our engagements, however sacred they may be. This is the great demon that continually seeks the mastery over us, the old Adam that perpetually speaks within us and driving us from God and goodness. Oh, could I but feel as Paul felt when he said, 'To me to live is Christ'." (p.18)
Griffith John was obviously a man of considerable ability and yet he's not known. John Aaron draws out that Griffith John was not unaware of the influence he could have in Wales for someone with his abilities, at a time when preachers were rock stars. He writes:
The book is a remarkable reminder that to bury yourself in the work that God has given to you can have huge ramifications for the work of the gospel."'But he turned his back on it all, and chose a land where he would be an utter novice and a complete unknown...Looking back, he described his experience:'It was during my stay in Brecon that I began to think seriously of the missionary work and its claims. I entered college with two things in mind - a higher and a lower. The higher desire was to serve man and to glorify God; the lower was the desire to become one of the great preachers of Wales. The higher desire was there all the time and occupied, I hope, the highest place; but the lower was there also and occupying, I am bound to say, no mean place. When, however, the missionary desire came in and took full possession of my heart, the lower desire was driven out, and driven out never to return again. That was a great victory, one of the greatest victories ever won on the arena of my heart and one for which I never ceased to feel truly thankful to God'"(p.140/141)
EP have done a limited print run because who wants who wants to read a biography of an unknown!?! But I'd encourage you to get in touch with them so this man who God, used so powerfully, might be better known.