Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
The Unlikely Missionary
The Unlikely Missionary
2 Kings 5, Mark 1:40–45, 2 Kings 2:1–15, John 15:5, Romans 6:4–11, Romans 6:1.
July 18, 2015
Imagine her surprise when Grete Winton was rummaging through some old documents in her attic and discovered that her husband was a hero. He hadn’t said a word about it during the decades they’d been married. If anyone else remembered Nicholas Winton’s exploits in 1939, they weren’t talking, either. Even the 669 Jewish children that he rescued from sure death as the Nazis marched on Czechoslovakia didn’t know his name until 50 years later. Nicholas Winton was the definition of an unsung hero.
Winton, who passed away on July 1, 2015 at the age of 106, explained his silence this way: “There are all kinds of things you don’t talk about, even with your family. Everything that happened before the war didn’t feel important in the light of the war itself.”1
Some people who may disagree with his statement are American scientist Ben Abeles, British film director Karel Reisz, and Canadian journalist Joe Schlesinger. Winton single-handedly organized transportation and foster homes in Britain for them and over 650 other children who got out just in the nick of time. Very few of them ever saw their families again.
Once his achievements became known, the accolades came pouring in. British Prime Minister Tony Blair dubbed him “Britain’s Schindler,” Queen Elizabeth II knighted him, and the city of Prague erected a statue in his honor in their Central Station. Unsung heroes, however, don’t work for accolades. When he began to receive the honors, Winton said, “It came as a revelation because I didn’t do it for that reason. I was there to save the children.”
We still don’t know the girl’s name, but this unsung hero’s witness had a major impact on two nations. Our lesson this week shows how God chose to use the lowest of the low—a captive, a young person, a girl—to reveal His saving power. Her faithfulness saved Naaman’s life, turned him from idolatry to true worship, revealed God’s work through Elisha the prophet, opened a missionary work in Aram, and bought a measure of good will toward her homeland from one of Israel’s traditional enemies.
Her experience leaves us with many questions, and one answer. The questions include: Why would she, a captive, offer to help her captor? Why would Naaman even listen to her? How was she raised, and what happened to her family? What was the outcome of this episode for her? Was she rewarded for her faithfulness with freedom? Since we know about her faithful witness, why don’t we know her name?
There is, however, one question that this story does answer: Who does God use? God can and will use anyone He chooses—even unlikely, unsung heroes.