By Jerry Harris
I’ve been praying. I’m writing this on Labor Day weekend—our submissions to the magazine are made well in advance of the printing and posting dates—and recently I’ve been praying for Babs Johnson, hospitalized and in a coma after a serious brain aneurysm a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve gotten to know Babs through her husband, Russell, a man with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of goodwill and incredible passion for the church. I asked Russell to write an article about his grandfather, iconic missionary J. Russell Morse—his namesake—for this issue, and he was happy to do so. He gathered family together to attempt an almost impossible task of condensing the life story of one of our greatest missionaries, if not the greatest, into the confines of a single article.
Sometimes lives are lived so richly for God that, as Russell would say, “It’s like a gallon of gold in a quart jar!” He loves Christian Standard too. His grandfather was a regular contributor to the magazine in his lifetime, often sharing stories about the overseas work. Throughout his life, J. Russell Morse blazed new trails for unreached people groups and endured hardships that bring to mind the sufferings of some in the New Testament. His love of Christ, passion for the lost, and endurance in the midst of hardships has been passed down and lived out by Russell and Babs.
I know that physical hardships such as Babs is enduring are common to human beings. Our hospitals and nursing homes are filled with people battling illness and affliction. But it’s rare when those who are suffering have made such a mark for the kingdom of God.
This past weekend, news outlets filled the airwaves with the funerals of Aretha Franklin and Senator John McCain. Their services took place in great venues, and famous people paid their respects and offered eulogies. It’s a stark contrast to how we tend to operate in the service of our Lord. We live our lives and make our decisions primarily for an audience of One. We live and die by his unending mercy and grace. He alone sustains us, and though our bodies fail, he doesn’t.
I know, as Russell and Babs know, that God is and will always be faithful, and the only eulogy we need to hear is his eternal voice saying, “Well done!” I am praying for Babs’s complete restoration to a good measure of health and for Russell and their family as they minister to her.