Chiang Mai, Thailand III

The theme for this years Asian Mission Forum is “Faithful for Fifty.” It is the 50th anniversary of this event, so the theme is appropriate. My four presentations were:

  1. Stay Faithful to the Finish
  2. Stay Faithful in your Message
  3. Stay Faithful in your Ministry
  4. Stay Faithful in your Mission

You can actually go to the AMF web sight and listen to these sermons (and others by presenters like Kelly Davidson, Larry Henderson, and John Willis).

But I thought you’d be interested in a few excerpts from my speeches along with some photos—just to give you a taste of the event. Here is the introduction to the first lesson.

Stay Faithful to the Finish

October 29, 1941 dawned wet and cold. The crowds began to gather with the sunrise. They huddled damp and miserable in the grey morning, queuing up for the few available seats in the small hall.

Winston Churchill was returning to Harrow—his old alma mater. He’d left a boy—unhappy, unruly, unremarkable. His schoolmasters had thought him too slow to amount to much. But he was returning as the Prime Minister of Britain, the guardian and leader of the British Empire, and Supreme Commander of England’s lonely conflict with Germany and her allies.

On every horizon, the storm clouds of war blackened the skies. Nazi forces had invaded vast swaths of Europe—Poland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, Russia. Italy was waging bloody battle in Greece and North Africa. In this part of the world, people were dying on land and sea and in the air. America would not enter the war for another month.

The outlook for England was bleak. Her cities were being bombed daily. She was losing planes and pilots faster than they could be replaced. Her harmies had suffered defeat after defeat. The nation was growing desperate. There was growing talk of surrender.

Against this tsunami of bad news, set backs, suffering, and discouragement stood a short, pudgy man with a cigar clenched in his teeth. His voice, his words, were keeping England afloat, putting the heart back into his disheartened people. His nightly radio addresses to the nation were a rope thrown to drowning men and women. His stubborn optimism and unflinching resolve were the rock that kept England from being swept away.

At Harrow, expectations were running high. The famous orator would surely have some eloquent and stirring words to share, some lengthy observations on the conduct of the war, some emotional memories of his student days at the school. Everyone was anticipating high-flown rhetoric, insider information,  a few tears. The students filed in to take their assigned seats. The waiting crowds were ushered into the hall to take what seats remained and stand against the walls and in the aisles. They sang the school song and a couple of hymns. There was a scripture reading. And then Winston Churchill was introduced.

There are two versions of the speech Churchill gave that day. In both version, the speech was short. In both versions, the theme of the speech was perseverance … staying faithful to the task before them. The first version of the speech is probably the more accurate. But I like the second version best.

It has Churchill walking to the podium and surveying his audience for a long moment. Then, in his characteristic growl, he spoke these words:

Never give up.

Never. Never. Never. Never.

Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.

Another long look at his audience. And then Churchill sat down.

Less than 20 words. The shortest speece (by far) of Churchill’s long career. A disappointment to those who had waited so long in the cold and damp.

But perhaps Churchill’s most remembered and most needed speech.

© 2012 by Tim Woodroof. Reproduction of this material requires permission from the author.