The best missionaries are often those saved from vilest lifestyles. Raymond Lull, for example, grew up self-indulged on the island of Majorca off the Spanish coast in the Mediterranean. His father was wealthy and powerful, a friend of the king. Lull, sexually indulgent, slept with many women, even following his marriage and the birth of two children. But one day at age 32, writing some erotic poetry, he was stricken with guilt. He envisioned Christ suffering on the cross. He was converted.

Majorca was controlled by Muslims, and gradually the young man felt a desire to reach the Islamic world. After providing for his wife and children, Lull gave away the rest of his possessions. He studied extensively for several years, learning the Arabic language and all he could about both Christianity and Islam. With the king’s help, he established a school on Majorca for the training of missionaries. He met repeatedly with popes and cardinals, trying to persuade them to establish similar schools across Europe for missionary training and language study. He lectured, wrote, and preached extensively. Then he began his actual missionary work at age 55, targeting North Africa.

It began unsteadily. Having announced his departure for Tunis, Lull was joined by well-wishers at the port at Genoa. But he was suddenly overwhelmed by the terror of possible martyrdom. His belongings were unloaded and the ship sailed without him. He quickly recovered and caught the next ship for Tunis. His fears were valid. He found himself in constant danger, living a fugitive’s life. He was eventually arrested, deported, and stoned on his way to the boat. But he couldn’t stay away, and he made repeated forays into North Africa, always at risk of life and limb. Throughout his 70s and into his 80s, Lull was preaching to Muslims. Finally on June 30, 1314, Lull was seized, dragged out of town, and stoned. He died shortly afterward. But he advanced Christian missions like no one else in his age and paved the way for everyone since with a burden for the Muslims.

What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship
The Lord God Most High?
Should I try to please him by sacrificing calves a year old?
The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands:
“See that justice is done,
Let mercy be your first concern,
And humbly obey your God.”
(Micah 6:6,8)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June30.

Also On This Day

1758 – James Stephen was the principal English lawyer associated with the movement for the abolition of slavery.

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