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Everybody’s favorite missionary, Tommy Tillman, and his grandson, Jordan Rauch, were guests at Bethany Baptist Church, Sunday. Maybe the main reason that Tommy is so well loved is that he has loved the Lord so much that he reflects God’s love for some of the poorest people of the world, the lepers and orphans of Thailand and Nomads of the Gobi desert in Mongolia. At the age of 78 having received 14 heart stents, removal of skin cancers, various other health problems, Tommy says that as long as he can walk and talk he will continue to tell the world that God loves them.
Tommy Tillman began his ministry to the lepers in Thailand about thirty years ago. He soon saw that he would have to be willing to actually touch the “Untouchables” if he was going to win them to the Lord. So he went where they were under bridges, behind public buildings, and into their homes. He ate with them, slept on mats beside them, and won their trust. He was able thereafter to build leper colonies where lepers can help each other rather than being on the streets begging.
Tommy’s doctors told him that living so close to the lepers for short times was not really a dangerous thing to do, but that he would need to leave the area for a few months at regular intervals. This resulted in Tommy reaching out to the hill tribes in Thailand and the Nomads in Mongolia. Tommy has started orphanages, hospitals, clinics, invalid homes, and children’s feeding stations, all of this without ever being a man of means himself. When Tommy has felt led to start such a project, the Lord has raised up people in the United States who have come to the support of such projects.
Tommy’s motivation for all of this is that he has found people who have never even heard about Jesus. When he witnesses to them, he has to go back to the Garden of Eden and bring them through the Bible. He does not believe in “Easy believeism.” They must learn about sin and its consequences. By feeding children who are literally starving, providing healthcare for elderly Nomads who have no other resource, he can present a God who loves them. One abandoned child who had never heard of Jesus was on the verge of starving. One day she looked up to the sky and said, “If there is anyone up there, feed me, I am about to starve to death.” The next day she come across a feeding station next to the dump. She not only received nourishing food, but was told about God. In due time she accepted Jesus, and has become one of the workers helping feed children now.
Tommy Tillman said that if we all really obeyed the commandments of the Lord we would soon evangelize the world, but while salvation is free, everything else has costs. Evangelizing comes at a cost. Financial sacrifices must be made. Missionaries may be threatened with physical weariness, illness, discouragement, and threats on their lives. Certain culture groups may think they serve their God by killing those who do not follow their teachings. The true God, Jehovah, will never send anyone out to kill anybody. But God will send angels to take care of those who totally trust in Him. Tommy Tillman is a living example of God’s gracious care.