Roots: Celebrating God's Faithfulness

March 9, 2017

World Gospel Mission is fortunate to have a 107-year history filled with stories of how God moved in miraculous ways in the lives of ordinary people. These ordinary people acted when God called them to serve, allowing them to be a part of His plan in restoring hope to the world. This month, as part of our #GoGrowChange social media theme for 2017, we are exploring the idea of roots: how the way God moved in our past can help us trust Him with our future.

Missionaries Freed from Japanese Concentration Camp

During World War II, several WGM missionaries serving in China were taken prisoner by Japanese forces. After nearly six months in a concentration camp in 1943, Cecil Troxel, John Trachsel, and Leona Aggola were taken to Shanghai and placed on an old steamer. The ship safely reached India, and the three missionaries boarded the Gripsholm, a neutral Swedish ship. After a dangerous, six-week voyage, the Gripsholm pulled into New York Harbor on December 1, 1943.

In the hours and days that followed, the missionaries reunited with their families and friends. John Trachsel met his daughter, Carol (who would later serve as a missionary in Kenya), for the first time. After a period of rest and recuperation, they were asked to speak at churches and camps, sharing their stories throughout the United States. 

The following June, Dr. Troxel returned to University Park, Iowa, for the annual camp meeting. This was the place where he and Woodford Taylor and their wives were appointed as missionaries to China in 1910, thus marking the founding of World Gospel Mission. “Home at last!” Dr. Troxel said as he preached at the gathering. That sermon was to be his last message. Later that week, Dr. Troxel had a stroke. He died a few days later on June 9, 1944. Following his death, this poem was found in one of his books:

When I am dying how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.
I shall not mind for whatever I gave
Money or labor, one heathen to save.

I shall not mind that the way was rough
That Thy dear feet lead the way was enough.
When I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life was blazed out for Thee.

(This was adapted from The Best of the Story by Burnis H. Bushong.)

Pray!PRAY: God does not call us to a life of safety; He calls us to courageous service. This service can be as hard as moving to a closed country or as relatively simple as sharing your faith with a coworker. Ask Him to show you how you can step outside your comfort zone and into dynamic faith.

GoGO: Are you ready to make the jump and serve God in a cross-cultural setting? Visit to find where your skills and abilities can be used in missions.

More!MORE: Learn more about the lives of retired WGM missionaries and support staff members.