Have you ever heard of Humphrey Monmouth? Or Lady Huntington? Or John Thornton? Most of us have never heard of any of these people. Yet they have lived lives of great faith in the Lord Jesus and expressed it by financially supporting names
that are much more well known such as: Tyndale, Whitefield and Newton.
As I was thinking about the issue of Christian generosity last week my eyes were drawn to a book on my “TO READ” shelf (a shelf with many books I am yet to get through!). The book is called ‘Gospel Patrons’ by John Rinehart. I have no idea when I bought it but it is a fascinating little book telling the stories of people whose generosity changed the world. The book called these people ‘Gospel Patrons’ and they have been around since Jesus walked amongst us.
Perhaps the first Gospel Patrons were the 3 women mentioned in Luke 8:1-3:
Soon afterward Jesus was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and
sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.
Mary, Joanna and Susanna were three Gospel Patrons whose generosity enabled Jesus’ ministry. What an astounding privilege for them!
One thousand five hundred years later Humphrey Monmouth visited a local church to hear a young William Tyndale preach. Monmouth was a wealthy business man with good connections in England and across in Europe. He was captivated by
the clarity of Tyndale’s preaching. Here was a man who spoke the Word of God in his own native English tongue – the Bible came alive for him. A few weeks later Monmouth was listening to Tyndale preach for a second time and after the service offered to take Tyndale out for dinner. This was the beginning of an incredible partnership.
Tyndale, under the patronage of Monmouth, was able to begin his work in translating the Greek New Testament into the English language. His prayer was that an English Bible might lead to the same sort of reformation in England that Luther’s
German Bible had sparked over in Europe.
Tyndale worked for months in Monmouth’s own home before heading to Germany to consult with Luther and some of the other Reformers. In time the first print run of the English New Testament was complete and a spark was lit in England.
Monmouth continued to support Tyndale from afar. However, Monmouth soon became caught up in controversy. His patronage of Tyndale led to his arrest and 12 months imprisonment. At this time many agitated in England against an English Bible and against the European Reformation. However, while Monmouth was incarcerated he rejoiced that Tyndale continued his work and many more English Bibles were printed in Europe and smuggled into England.
Soon Monmouth was released but Tyndale was betrayed by others in Europe. Famously, as Tyndale stood condemned before his accusers, as the rope was tied about his neck, he cried out “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes” and then the trap door was opened and he died.
Monmouth, now free in England, was devastated to hear of Tyndale’s death. However, he lived another 12 months and had the joy of seeing Tyndale’s work and prayer begin to be answered. Within another 60 years Tyndale’s work became a strong
basis for the English King James Bible.
Humphrey Monmouth – a name few of us know – was the Gospel Patron who enabled the Bible to come into the hands of hundreds of millions of people for many years to come. What an astounding service for Jesus!
It makes me wonder – what incredible things could God do with the many rich blessings we have today? I wonder who of us could be modern day ‘Gospel Patrons’? I wonder who of us could establish new ministries or back existing ones? I wonder whether we might leave a rich legacy for Christ’s work in this world long after we have died by simply putting our riches and assets to work creatively for the Kingdom?
Maybe you could be a ‘Gospel Patron’ and change the world through Christian generosity?