The Church’s Rescue Mission

”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”

Matthew 28:19-20, NIV

Reading hymns as poetry is one of my ‘Go To places’ when in need of encouragement, challenge and personal input for all sorts of reasons. Recently I have been mulling over our calling to heal the hurting and set the captives free and I found myself speaking out words once remembered from one of Fanny Crosby’s huge collection of hymns (including To God be the Glory and many other traditional favourites). She was blind from six weeks old and because of this she had an unusual sensitivity to the Lord and extraordinary spiritual sight and insight. In total she wrote over 8000 hymns!

The hymn that has been going through my mind was always a favourite of the evangelical world, Rescue the Perishing, but was probably never (or very rarely) understood in the context of healing and evangelism. Whilst the urgency of evangelism, as expressed in our Scripture for today, is explicit in the first line and title of the hymn, the words of all the verses have a relevance and importance to us in the ministry of healing – especially the third verse which describes what we have seen God do on so many occasions – ‘feelings lie buried that grace can restore’.

1
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one,
Lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.

2
Though they are slighting Him,
Still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly,
Plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

3
Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.

4
Rescue the perishing,
Duty demands it;
Strength for thy labour the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way,
Patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Saviour has died.

Verse 3 describes the deep inner feelings of the real person that have been buried and crushed – that’s exactly what God does through the inner healing of a broken heart, awakening the true long-buried feelings of a hurting and broken person.

I was really blessed by realising that 150 years ago (1869) Fanny Crosby was expressing the heart of healing as a primary means of evangelism. Be blessed as you meditate on all the words of this classic hymn, remembering it was written by a lady who had never been able to see in the physical but had been granted an extraordinary capacity to see and understand the deepest of spiritual truths which she then endeavoured to express in hymns.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the remarkable insights of Fanny Crosby who, even though she was physically blind, could see into Your heart and convey to others extraordinary truths and understanding. Help me, Lord, to always be open to rescue those who are perishing because they do not know You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.