Heaven will be peopled by followers of Jesus you and I may have never heard of, but they were known intimately to God - because they had a close relationship to Him and they served Him so faithfully. Dr. Thomas Barclay is one of these people.
Thomas Barclay labored for over 60 years as a missionary and linguist to the Taiwanese people from 1870 to 1935 (Taiwan was then called Formosa.). He led the efforts of translating the Bible in Taiwanese. He started the country's first college, opened the first printing shop, and began the first newspaper. Some contemporaries said he was more Taiwanese than some of the native Taiwanese people - not bad for a man born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland!
He died in 1935 and is buried there today. A church was built in his memory and the Barclay Memorial Church still exists today (see photo below).
For more than 60 years! How does one stay committed to The Call for 60 years? To overcome hardships and depression? To stay faithful in spite of discouragement? To press on in new endeavours? I'm convinced that for Thomas Barclay, his secret lay in a covenant with God which he wrote at age 16. It reads in part:
"This day do I, with the utmost solemnity, surrender myself to Thee. I renounce all former lords that have had dominion over me, and I consecrate to Thee all that I have: the faculties of my mind, the members of my body, my worldly possessions, my time, and my influence over others; to be all used entirely for Thy glory, and resolutely employed in obedience to Thy commands, as long as Thou continuest to give me life; with an ardent desire and humble resolution to continue Thine through all the ages of eternity; ever holding myself in an attentive posture to observe, with zeal and joy, to the immediate execution of it .
To Thy direction also I resign myself, and all that I am and have, to be disposed of by Thee in such a manner as Thou in Thine infinite wisdom shall judge most subservient to Thy purposes of Thy glory.
To Thee I leave the management of all events, and say without reserve, `Not my will, but Thine, be done.'"
We are told that he signed the convenant every year on his birthday. The first signature was affixed on November 21, 1865; the last one on November 21, 1934. He died the following October, just two years after the Bible translation was completed. During the years he was married he asked his wife to sign it with him.
Even if you have never heard of him before today, may the life of Thomas Barclay be one that spurs you and I on to solemnly commit ourselves to God and His work.