Iona and The Missionary Army
Last week Lineage released a never before seen mini episode on the Island of Iona. The episode highlighted the grueling conditions the Iona missionaries would have faced every time they made a trip to and from the Island. Travel, during the time that Iona was a thriving mission center, was anything but easy and yet many of these young men chose to launch out as workers for God against all odds.
But the missionaries from Iona weren’t the only ones that chose to serve God in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Many of the men and women who came after them chose to brave the storms of persecution and turmoil in the service of the gospel and they made a lasting impact on the lives of so many people.
One such missionary was Jerome of Faulfish. Jerome is best known as the friend and disciple of John Huss, who in the aftermath of a horrifying stay in a dungeon in Constance, chose to recant his faith. He later relented and chose to die a martyrs death a year after Huss and was burned to death in the same spot as Huss. But one of the less known stories about Jerome involves travel, speaking engagements and a significant slice of adventure.
Jerome of Faulfish was a Bohemian Knight who was eloquent and extremely intelligent. He was a fiery, impetuous man who loved a good intellectual argument. Jerome studied at Oxford and while there he was influenced by the work of John Wycliffe. After he finished his education he decided to make his way back home to Prague armed with Wycliffe’s writings and a head full of new teachings he had assimilated about the gospel. As he passed through Paris and Vienna en route to Prague he challenged the scholars at the Universities there to open theological debates in an attempt to share the gospel. His enthusiasm landed him in jail on several occasions but jail time did nothing to take away his desire to share what he had learned. When he finally made it to Prague and met Huss he began to share Wycliffe’s
writings with him and soon Huss and Jerome stood side by side sharing the gospel in Prague. Jerome would energetically present the truth in the University and the open squares while Huss, a significantly quieter personality, would preach at the Bethlehem Chapel and spend hours at his desk writing. Jerome’s story is possibly a tad more glamorous than the stories of the Iona missionaries slogging it over land and sea to get to their destinations but it does have a similar thread running through it. Jerome’s love for the truth led him to brave some of the toughest circumstances and drove him to preach the gospel against all odds. It even led him to sacrifice his life.
Being a missionary doesn’t always mean traveling to the farthest parts of the habitable globe or languishing in a jail cell for your faith but it can mean making a choice to share the truth where God has placed you even when it may be scary or unpopular to do so.
Against all odds doesn’t have to mean braving rain and hail and a martyrs death to preach the truth. The odds we face today might look different to the odds that men like Huss and Jerome faced. The odds we face may be the possibility of ridicule, rejection, abuse, and scorn but they are still just as daunting as the odds that Huss, Jerome, and the others faced. It has never
been popular to preach the truth but it has always turned the world upside down. Are you willing to take that chance, against all odds?
Suki Goonatilleke lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about winning people for Jesus and has served in full-time ministry at Gateway Adventist Center. Her current ministry endeavors include being a stay-at-home mom by day and writer by night.