Spreading the News
By Karen Treharne
In July, 1856, the first permanent telegraphic communication line was established across the Atlantic. What an achievement!
The project overcame the wrath of nature at its worst. It withstood criticism and mocking from scoffers and cynics. Supporters themselves were doubtful – but hopeful at the same time. In spite of all obstacles, it is because of their steadfast faith in this worthwhile endeavor that the world today is linked together in one purpose: to access news as it happens.
The crew of believers in this mission battled the maritime weather which was at its most severe in the straits of water between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, approximately the mid-span point of the cable.
During one devastating storm, a heavy gale forced the captain of the ship to order the cable cut to prevent the boat from capsizing and the probable loss of lives. Forty miles of the line were lost that day, and the sail-powered vessel found it necessary to return to New York to start over. When they limped into the harbor, opposition was their welcoming committee.
Skeptics and critics were quick to voice their opinion of the hopelessness of such a fool-hearty venture:
"They’ll never be able to complete the crossing."
"They won’t find enough men willing to risk their lives for a ‘pipe’ dream."
"They’ll run out of money."
Many thought the undertaking was deliberately sabotaged or even jinxed, because disaster after disaster followed the cable’s expansion. Broken or ruptured pieces slowed the pace because of increased expenditures to replace missing sections. Financial backers threatened to withdraw funding –
some did. Eventually, unrest among the recruits resulted in their grumbling and complaining due to the setbacks and difficult working conditions. Crew members walked off the job.
It took determined teamwork to continue the operation. With a singular purpose, these dedicated men persevered despite hardships, and the task was finally completed when the conduit was fully laid the following year.
The early church spread the gospel in much the same way, under similar circumstances. A fellowship of believers was formed who sold their possessions and goods to prepare themselves for the job they were commissioned to do for Christ. Spreading the Good News of eternal life to the world.
These apostles of God were courageous, unschooled, ordinary men. Although they faced death, were put into prison, suffered from hunger and thirst, and often felt discouraged and lonely, they continued to offer their message of hope: the resurrection story of Jesus and, that because of this miracle and God’s love, all who believed would also have victory over death.
The Church was persecuted and scattered. The faithful became disheartened and fearful for their lives. Still, the Word was preached by its members wherever they went, and many were converted who once were enemies of the Christians; like Saul, who at his conversion, was struck blind by God for three days and did not eat or drink anything until he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Because of Paul’s new faith and desire to serve, God was able to use him to spread the Word to the Gentiles in the outreaches of the then-known world.
The gospel was brought across one sea, one continent at a time. Sometimes it seemed to move ahead at full speed; at other times, it was impeded by discrimination, maltreatment and imprisonment.
Nevertheless, because of God’s promises and sovereignty, hope in the Word of Christ Jesus has withstood the elements and surmounted all challengers. The end result, like the transatlantic cable, is the existence of a thriving network of spiritual communication that is still being laid, and is binding the whole world with the Good News of salvation.
Karen Treharne understands the power of communicating hope in our Lord to others. God’s love motivates her to continue learning and sharing the Good News.