If Only One

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I’m not sure I remember the year, but I sure recall the moment.

I was a young Jr. High youth director, still in college in fact. Our group had spent the week in Mexico doing evangelistic ministry in mountain villages, traveling from Tennessee in a 66-passenger red and white school bus with our church name on the side. Believe me, Chihuahua is a long way from Chattanooga. It was always hot. It was always noisy. We were always sweaty. We were always hungry. And we loved every challenging minute of it!

That 10-day trip was my first mission excursion outside of the US, and each day was an eye-opening, jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching experience. Poverty, both spiritually and physically, like I had never witnessed before. Remoteness like I had never faced before. Needs like I had never imagined before. Though I was a leader on the trip physically and spiritually, I was undoubtedly a student culturally and emotionally. Frankly, what I saw, heard, and felt changed me forever.

The moment it all “clicked” came as we were leaving the last village. I occupied a window seat near the back, and as we drove past the final row of one-room homes made from stone, boys and girls were running alongside the bus, waving and saying goodbye. The driver slowed a bit for us to return the wave, and what caught my eye was a simple little girl, probably eight or nine, sitting on a rock staring at us as we pulled away. She looked curious, yet lonely. Wonderingly inquisitive. It was if she was asking, longingly yet desperately, Why did you come?

God’s Spirit immediately spoke to my soul, highlighting the value of that one child. That’s why, he said. A lump formed in my throat; tears began filling my eyes. The Holy Spirit continued to press in: If only one, then it’s worth it.

By now I was totally unaware of all that was going on around me on the bus. It all seemed totally silent except for those three words: If only one. I quickly grabbed my notebook and pen and began jotting down what my heart and mind were reciting. If only one. And as those three words kept sinking in, others started pouring out, phrases and sentences that would deeply affect the rest of my life.

That’s the story behind this poem/song written on a red and white school bus somewhere in Mexico sometime in the 80s. It’s all about the one that matters, and the one mission that matters: God’s.

If Only One
It’s not for fame or wealth,
Or better health,
That I’m willing, Lord, to go.
It’s not for men’s applause that I will spread the news.
But, oh, that one lost soul would have the chance
to hear of your great love!
Lord, I’ll go, if even one can hear of you.

If only one will ever know, then Lord, I’m willing to go.
If only one will ever see the change you can bring, then Lord, send me.
If only one will ever see thy love and take thy son, thy dearest one,
Lord, I’m willing,
Lord, I’m ready,
Lord, I’m yours.

No matter what the price,
or sacrifice,
I’m willing to go for you.
No matter where, if no one cares, Lord, I’ll go for you.
For in the wining of just only one,
it all becomes worthwhile—
That even a little child can be your son!

If only one will ever know, then Lord, I’m willing to go.
If only one will ever see the change you can bring, then Lord, send me.
If only one will ever see thy love and take thy son, thy dearest one,
Lord, I’m willing,
Lord, I’m ready,
Lord, I’m yours.

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