“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” –Philippians 2:3-4
Thomas J. Barnardo was an Irish Doctor who had a dream of being a medical missionary in China. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Thomas was dedicated to his faith in Jesus Christ. He actually made the decision to become a missionary at age 17. He committed to his studies and to his faith so that he would be ready to someday serve in the mission field.
In 1866 Thomas Barnardo arrived in London to continue his medical studies. During his first year in London there was a large outbreak of Cholera that resulted in the death of thousands of people. So many families were devastated by the outbreak. London now was faced with many homeless children begging in the streets.
Within his first year, Thomas Barnardo set up a school to help educate the poor children of London. It was his hope that they could at least receive a basic education and receive the minimum skills they needed to support themselves. One night a student took Thomas around the neighborhood and showed him the large number of children sleeping on the streets. Thomas Barnardo went to work to not only educate, but now house the children of London.
It was in 1870 that Barnardo opened his first home for boys in London. Unfortunately, it was a limited number of boys who were first housed in Barnardo’s home. One night, because they were overcrowded, a young boy was turned away. In just a few short days, hunger and the lack of proper shelter took the young boy’s life. When Thomas Barnardo heard of the sad news he established a policy that, “No destitute child ever be refused admission.”
Thomas Barnardo worked tirelessly to shelter, feed, educate and employ the poorest of children in London. In just a few short years, Barnardo had opened 12 properties in London to fulfil his policy. When Thomas Barnardo passed away in 1905 his mission, that he established on his way to China, had opened over 96 homes caring for boys and girls across England. By the time he died over 9,000 children had been cared for by his wonderful work. Today, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II serves as the patron of Barnardo’s legacy. The Barnardo Homes still serve the children of England by giving shelter, food and a much-needed education.
Life rarely goes the way we plan or dream. Thomas Barnardo never made it to China as a medical missionary. He was sidetracked on his way when the immediate need of his city became apparent to him. Thankfully, Barnardo continued to serve, regardless of his geographical location. Although his situation changed, Thomas Barnardo never forgot his faith and the foundational Biblical teachings of love and compassion he had learned from the time he was a boy. He continued to serve as Christ served and, “to look to the interest of others.” In doing so, Barnardo has changed the lives of thousands of people. When we stay committed to our faith, no matter how our circumstances change, we will also make a difference.
Rev. Keith King, Online Campus Pastor