Friday, December 12, 2008

A Hero of the Faith- Victor Plymire

Victor Plymire, was a pioneer missionary to China and Tibet. He went to that part of the world in 1908 and served 16 years before he won his first Tibetan convert. In his 19th year of missionary service, his only son, 6 years of age, and his wife died within one week of each other from smallpox. The local cemetery refused him burial permission, so he bought a small plot of land on a Tibetan hillside overlooking a valley outside of town. It was the middle of winter in that bitter-cold part of the world. He had only enough strength to dig one grave through the frozen ground for the two of them.

What was his and their reward for all of this?

Especially in the West, we live in a period of instant gratification. We expect immediate reward for labor rendered, service given and investment made. But the Bible talks about delayed reward. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34,35).

There is no ecstasy for the saints in the treatment they receive at the hands of the world. They are not rewarded on earth with wealth and mansions, with luxury and leisure, with titles and accolades. Their reward is one deferred — until the coming of the Lord.

My Uncle Victor died without ever knowing what purpose the death of his wife and son filled in the economy of God. But about 65 years after that desolate moment on the Tibetan mountainside, and some 36 years after his death, God’s long-range purposes began to come into view.

In 1991 the church in Victor Plymire’s adopted town in China wanted to officially reopen. Permission was denied on the grounds the church had no proof the property purchased and buildings erected by my uncle had ever been used as a church. The officials, as did everyone else in the town, knew the true story. But games were being played with the pastor, the son of the martyred leader left in charge of the work when Victor Plymire left in 1949.

In desperation the Chinese pastor asked my missionary cousin, David Plymire, if any written evidence existed which could prove the buildings and property belonged to the church. David came back and searched the file of his father in Springfield, Mo. There he found a deed. But it was not the deed to the church property — no such legal instrument has ever been found. The deed was to the grave on the hillside.

For some reason known only to God, Victor Plymire had deeded that grave not in his own name, but the name of the church. When David Plymire returned to China and gave the deed to that pastor, the local authorities accepted it as incontrovertible evidence that the church had indeed existed. The property was returned, the buildings were repossessed, and the church was officially open again.

Had the town cemetery been available to Plymire, there would have been no deed for proof. In fact, years ago the town cemetery was leveled and apartments were built over it; but the Plymire grave still rests undisturbed on the edge of the sprawling town. God, who had not caused the deaths of Victor Plymire’s first wife and son, nevertheless intended to use that loss to anchor the church in that very town at the close of the century. Plymire died long before this twist in the story; but we now can see an earthly reward for this precious sacrifice.

There is an even greater day of reward coming. Someday the grave itself will open and the dead shall come forth. On that day Victor and Grace Plymire and their son John David are going to receive a reward from the hand of Jesus himself. That reward will eclipse all sorrow.

That hour will be one of vindication for the saints, when the unbelieving world is judged and God’s children receive their rewards.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
(Written by George O Wood in the Pentecostal Evangel)

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