So I send you ... to Kirkland Lake

by Ruth A. Tucker

As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)

A mission field does not have to be a country chosen by a mission board as a designated place of ministry. It can be any place where people are in need of the gospel. E. Margaret Clarkson, who was raised in Ontario, found this to be true in her life.

“In 1935,” she wrote, “teaching jobs were so scarce that I had to take my first job as a teacher in a lumber camp some 1,400 miles from home, out in the Rainy River District of northwestern Ontario. From there I moved to the gold mining camp of Kirkland Lake, 450 miles north of Toronto. In all, I spent seven years in the north. I experienced loneliness of every kind--mental, cultural, but particularly spiritual, for in all of those seven years I never found real Christian fellowship--churches were modern and born-again Christians were almost non-existent.”

Your Mission Field

“I was studying the Word one night and meditating on the loneliness of my situation and came in my reading to John 20, and the words, ‘so send I you.’ Because of a physical disability I knew that I could never go to the mission field, but God seemed to tell me that night that this was my mission field, and this was where He had sent me. I was then 23, in my third year of teaching. I had written and published verse all of my life, so it was natural for me to put my thoughts into verse.”

The lines she penned that night have since become one of the most familiar of all the missionary hymns, “So Send I You.” The words reflected her sad and lonely spirit that night: “So send I you to labor unrewarded, to serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown.” The third and fourth verses continue this lament: “So send I you to loneliness and longing,” and “so send I you to leave your life’s ambition.”

Balance Added Later

To many missionaries this hymn reflected true feelings of sacrifice, but others felt it told only part of the story or none of it at all. Margaret later regretted the emphasis it placed on sacrifice: “I began to realize that this poem was really very one-sided; it told only the sorrows and privations of the missionary call and none of its triumphs.” In 1963 she added two more verses that were more positive.

But even in the original, this powerful hymn had a deep impact on missions.

Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Kregel, 1982) in a collection of Sacred Stories by Ruth A. Tucker (Zondervan, 1989).

Used by permission.

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