Sacrifices: Large and Small

Brenda and Karl Stegall

James William Lambuth was born in 1830 in the small community of Forkland, Alabama, eleven miles north of Demopolis. When he was a young man, James gave his life to Jesus Christ in the little Forkland Methodist Church. Soon afterwards, he answered the call of God upon his life to become a missionary. He was a member of the first graduating class at the University of Mississippi in 1851. James married a teacher, Mary Isabell McClellan in 1853, and the following year, they left for the mission field in China. It was on May 6, 1854, that James and Mary Lambuth set sail from New York to China. ey arrived at their mission station in China on September 17, 1854, four months and 11 days later.

James Lambuth served for 38 years as a missionary to China and Japan. He and Mary came back home to the United States only twice during those 38 years. When James died in Kobe, Japan in 1896, the young Christians at the Kwansei Gakko College asked his family if they might pull his hearse through the streets of the city as a testimony of the high esteem that they felt for this devoted servant of Jesus Christ. People called Methodists back home here in the United States had such great admiration for the Lambuth family that they chose the name Lambuth College for a church-related college in Jackson, Tennessee, and the name, Lambuth Inn, for a hotel at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

There is an interesting little verse of scripture found in the Gospel of John, “Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor” (4:38).

I would not dare claim that our seminary students today are called upon to make sacrifices like James and Mary Lambuth made over 150 years ago. However, on a much smaller scale, I see firsthand, every single day, sacrifices that our seminary students make when they answer God’s call upon their lives to become United Methodist ministers. There are no United Methodist seminaries within Alabama and northwest Florida, and so they are asked to move to unknown places to them like Decatur, Georgia; Durham, North Carolina; and Wilmore, Kentucky. Their spouses and children make great sacrifices to support them every step of the way. Without exception, they make these sacrifices for Jesus Christ gladly, knowing that “others have labored and they have entered into their labor.” Thanks for “standing in the gap” with them during their time of need!

-Karl K. Stegall

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