Sometimes you try hard to do the right thing, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference. There are moments when you give it your all—whether in your marriage, job, faith, or other relationships—and it seems for naught. In my life, I’ve experienced those moments of wanting to give up and give in, because nothing seems to work no matter how hard I try.
And then I read the story of J. W. Tucker.
On November 24, 1964, Congolese rebels brutally tortured J. W. Tucker and sixty of his Christian compatriots. If that weren’t enough, these rebels then threw them into the crocodile-infested Bomokande River to be eaten alive. They wanted nothing to do with Tucker and his friends’ offer of help or the Jesus they shared.
Two days later, Belgian paratroopers rescued the rest of the families, including Tucker’s widow. At 20,000 feet, she prayed this prayer: “O, Father, we do thank Thee for Thy goodness and love and many blessings. We love Thee and praise Thee for Thy care. . . And we ask that you take J’s life which has been laid down, and use it in death for Thine honor and glory” (quoted in Batterson, Chase the Lion, 105).
Was J. W. Tucker’s sacrifice, along with that of his sixty friends, all for naught? They served faithfully, they worked hard, and they diligently shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And for what? To be fed to crocodiles in an African river.
What was meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20). He answered Tucker’s widow’s prayer in a unique way.
Fast forward thirty years. The Bomokande River flows through a region controlled by the Mangbetu tribe. During a period of civil unrest, the Mangbetu king reached out to the Congolese government for help. A Brigadier was sent to calm the crisis, who happened to be a man J. W. Tucker led to Christ only two months before Tucker was martyred for his faith. This Brigadier wanted to share Christ with the resistant Mangbetu people, but all of his efforts failed, until he discovered an ancient tribal tradition: “If the blood of any man flows in the Bomokande River, you must listen to his message” (ibid, 106).
The Brigadier gathered the village elders and told them of a man whose blood flowed in the river thirty years previously. Before this man died, he left a message that the God of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. The Brigadier shared the Gospel message, and several elders fell to their knees and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Since then thousands of Mangbetu have come to faith in Christ and dozens of churches have started because one man’s blood flowed in the Bomokande River.
Tucker’s death was not for naught. And nor is your life, your hard work, your sacrifice, your prayers, your tears, or your pain! Ultimately, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). You may not see it now, but one day God will right what is wrong, restore what is broken, and reverse the irreversible.
So, stay the course! Fight the good fight! Keep the faith! God’s plan will unfold, and one day you will receive the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award . . . to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).