“Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – Matthew 6:31-33
Andrew Duncan was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in Scotland in 1597, a difficult time to be a Presbyterian. In 1603 James I of England began a campaign to place Anglican bishops over the Church of Scotland, which was Presbyterian. In 1605 Duncan and five other prominent Presbyterian ministers were arrested for defying the king by attending a general assembly of the Church of Scotland in Aberdeen. They were imprisoned for fourteen months and then banished to France. After about six years Duncan was allowed to return to his church in Scotland but soon fell in disfavor again, suffering multiple imprisonments and finally exile.
Once while living in lonely exile, Duncan and his family ran out of food. With his wife in and children in tears, Duncan prayed and then told them that God would provide. After his family went to bed that night, a stranger came to the house and gave Duncan a sack of food for the family. He left without giving his name. Duncan brought the sack to his wife saying, “See what a good Master I serve.”
Andrew Duncan and his family suffered great hardships for their faith, but Duncan remained steadfast. Nearing the end of his life, he wrote his last will and testament:
“I, Andrew Duncan,…set down the declaration of my latter will, concerning these things, which God hath lent me in this world; in manner following,–First, as touching myself, body and soul; my soul I leave to Christ Jesus, who gave it, and when it was lost, redeemed it, that He may send His holy angels to transport it to the bosom of Abraham, there to enjoy all happiness and contentment; and as for this frail body, I commend it to the grave, there to sleep and rest, as in a sweet bed, until the day of refreshment, when it shall be reunited to the soul, and shall be set down at the table with the holy patriarchs, prophets, and apostles; yea, shall be placed on the throne with Christ, and get the crown of glory on my head. As for the children whom God hath given me, for which I thank His Majesty, I leave them to His providence, to be governed and cared for by Him, beseeching Him to be the tutor, curator, and agent, in all their adoes, yea, and a father; and that He would lead them by His gracious Spirit, through this evil world; that they may be profitable instruments…holding their course to heaven, and comforting themselves with the glorious and fair-to-look-on heritage, which Christ hath conquered for them, and all that love Him. Under God, I leave John Duncan, my eldest son, to be tutor to my youngest daughter, Bessie Duncan, his youngest sister, to take a care of her, and to see that all turns go right, touching her person and gear. My executors I leave my three sons, John, William, and David Duncan, to do my turns after me, and to put in practice my directions; requesting them to be good and comfortable to their sisters, but chiefly to the two that are at home, as they would have God’s blessing and mine. As concerning my temporal goods, the baggage and blathrie of the earth, as I have gotten them in the world off God’s liberal hand, so I leave them behind me in the world; giving most humble and hearty thanks unto my heavenly Father for so long and comfortable loan of the same.” – 14th April, 1626
How do you regard your possessions? Do you see them as something you own, or do you see yourself as a steward of what God has entrusted to you?
*Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 14 entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.
*Significant Events on April 14th in Church History:
1521: After landing in the Philippines, Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan began giving instruction and baptism to more than 800 Filipinos.
1570: The Consensus of Sendomir unified the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Moravians of Poland.
1950: Agreement was reached between the Catholic Church and the Communist government of Poland. The agreement included nineteen articles and a protocol.
1951: Bishop Francis X. Ford was arrested by the Chinese Communists as they cracked down on the Church. Accused of espionage and the recruitment of resistance forces, he was executed a few months later. Many other Catholics were arrested this time as well.
*Adapted from This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.