Did you know that the first monkey to survive a successful space flight was in 1959? His name was Baker and he was from Peru. Here’s his story:
After many failed attempts at sending animals into space from dogs to mice to fruit flies, Baker and Able, on 28 May 1959, boarded Jupiter IRBM AM-18 and the monkeys rode in the nose cone of the missile to an altitude of 360 miles (579 km) and a distance of 1,700 miles (2,735 km) down the Atlantic Missile Range from Cape Canaveral, Florida. These monkeys withstood forces thirty eight times the normal pull of gravity. Also, they were weightless for about 9 minutes. Close your eyes and imagine that scene, right? They also reached a top speed of 10,000 mph in their 16-minute flight. It’s good to know after all the animal mishaps; these monkeys survived the flight in good condition. In fact, their exploration and survival into space was at the threshold of man’s first flight which would come in the next few years. Although Able died four days after the flight from a reaction to anesthesia while undergoing surgery, Baker lived until November 29th, 1984, at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
You’ve got to start somewhere. If you’re going to take on the great commitment to being a frontiersman, you can’t stay in the same place you’ve always been. Even if it means your initial start may be with the monkeys.
Words. They fill our minds, flow out of our hearts and then spew out of our mouths. In our age of information, from blogging to sharing our latest tweets, we use words to make points and make promises. And, for most of us, we can use our words to talk about what we hope to accomplish rather than taking the risk of seeing it fail. We are much more apt to commit verbally than take on the step of putting our words to action.
If we want to see new frontiers in and across the landscape of the church, then we are going to have to risk the taking of that next step forward. In the book of Acts when the new church was being formed, disciples Paul and Barnabas went to the city of Lystra. At this point in history, they were going wherever they could. These men were frontiersmen when it came to their willingness to see the message of Christ spread everywhere. While speaking there, Paul noticed a lame man in whom he saw “faith to be a healed.” This man was a pioneer himself. Believing at a time in church history when miracles weren’t on the forefront of people’s minds, Paul tells the man to “stand up on your feet” (Acts 14:10) and the guy gets up immediately. Well, let’s just say this created quite a stir. The people in Lystra thought Paul and Barnabas were gods and wanted to offer sacrifices to them. This misunderstanding brought chaos and eventually the Jews got involved because Paul was on “their” turf. It wasn’t long before they stoned Paul after he tried to explain the path to Christ and was left for dead. He was tended to by the disciples, lived through the ordeal and went on to share the message of hope in Christ in many more places. But, Lystra? Many shook their heads and branded that trip a failure.
A failure? Well, maybe in the eyes of other believers or those watching from the sidelines, but for the lame man? The trip was a success. He was now walking. He could dance at his daughter’s wedding. He could run a marathon. The truth was that without their visit he would still be sitting by the city gate.
The United States’ first attempt to launch a satellite into orbit was also its first failure. Two seconds after leaving the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, this rocket lost thrust and sank back down, rupturing and exploding its fuel tanks. It had reached a height of about four feet. Though the rocket was destroyed, the Vanguard satellite it was carrying was thrown clear, its transmitters still signaling. It is now on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. But, this supposed failure was one of the keys to the success of Baker who would travel into orbit just a few years later. Without an attempt somewhere, somehow, that monkey would have never left the ground. And, without Baker’s flight, man wouldn’t have taken that first step on the moon.
When you’re a pioneer, what is deemed as failure is usually a step toward success whether it’s for one lame man or the human race.