view from E Margaret Clarkson's island
“As the Father has sent me, I am likewise sending you”
Handicapped in several ways, including severe juvenile arthritis attacking an already malformed body, and
hammered by uncontrollable migraine headaches, a forlorn young woman believed that it would be unlikely
that she would ever experience an intimate physical relationship. Nor would she be apt to travel. How could
she then justify her heartfelt conviction of God’s calling her to be a missionary? Where was the equity in that?
Enter E Margaret Clarkson. Sadly recalling her first words “my head hurts”, by her teenage years she was
bed bound and helpless, balding on the back of her head from being unable to move. With her disabilities, at
age 23 the best she could do was to teach in a northern Canadian lumber camp. The verse above was
calling to her. Hoping her circumstances might improve, she migrated from the logging camp to a mining
town. The verse still called, but she saw no way to embrace it.
In despair because she thought she was letting God down, she came to grips that her mission field was meant
to be right where she was. She was lonely, culturally deprived, without a close friendship and mentally
tormented, but she would have her mission field no matter.
One day a woman came into her life. She became her mentor. She was twelve years older than Margaret,
and because of the type of personal relationship they shared, the kind of love, however private, Christ was
exalted. The relationship lasted for twenty years. From her meager earnings Margaret was able to purchase
a small island with a rundown cottage allegedly for $600, accessible only by boat, where she was able to be a
missionary right there, writing prose, some of which would end up if hymn form. In addition to her writing
scores of books, in 1936 she penned So Send I You which is often referred to as the first missionary hymn of
the 20th century.
So send I you to labour unrewarded
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing
(and more original words):
I do not know tomorrow’s way, If dark or bright its hours may be;
But I know Christ, and come what may, I know that he abides with me.
I do not know what may befall, of grief or gladness, peace or pain;
But I know Christ, and through it all I know his presence will sustain.