Steve Wallace


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White Unto Harvest

Here's to the Helpers


Blessings often come in the form of brethren (Acts 28:15; 2 Corinthians 7:6), but they come in things brethren do as well (Acts 4:34-35; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 13:16). With regards to his work of spreading the Gospel, Paul made special note of those who helped in his work. Please notice some of the things he said:

    But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me: wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity.Ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. (Philippians 4:10-16)

    So that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth, so that we need not to speak anything. (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

The work of spreading the Gospel is important. Paul not only gave his life to it, he also commended those who supported Gospel preaching.

Much has been done in our generation to spread the Gospel in many different places. The success has been such that, as one brother has noted, the sun never sets on the Lord's kingdom. However, as in Paul's day, the spread of the Gospel has not been effected only by those involved in actual mission work, those who have supported these efforts have also played a major role. We seek to detail their contribution herein. Let us first note how congregations have helped.

The Contributions of Local Churches

Much has, of necessity, been written about the unscriptural way many churches of Christ have used their money. Also, some conservative churches have simply been content to keep their money in the bank. However, many churches have done neither of the above. Rather, they have been part of the present efforts to carry out the great commission. Their efforts exemplify several things:

  1. Local churches at work in foreign evangelism. Churches in the first century set examples that should be followed today (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26-27; Philippians 4:15-16). It takes some planning for a church today to responsibly use its resources in this area. Information must be gathered concerning the prospective worker to be supported and the country wherein he has chosen to labor. The degree of commitment (How much? How long?) must also be factored into the equation. Some churches have contributed to the work of publishing literature in the language of a given country. Sometimes brethren must do without improvements to their meeting places or be content with unpaved parking lots, or perhaps members must do such local maintenance themselves in order to continue the support of evangelists in the field. In countries all over the world, much fruit has been born to the Lord by churches involved in foreign evangelism. May their tribe increase!

     

  2. The faith involved in such work. When Antioch sent forth Paul and Barnabas it was a simple work of faith (Acts 13:1-3). They knew that the Lord had called these two men to his work. Similarly, it takes faith for churches to support foreign work today. Isaiah wrote in the long ago, "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (55:10-11). Simple faith in the power of the Gospel is manifested when churches support faithful men in their work of proclaiming it (Rom. 1:16). We commend the many churches for the faith they have shown in their support of Gospel preaching on foreign soils.*

     

  3. Showing love for all men. It is often said that the golden text of the New Testament is John 3:16. This verse shows our Lord's love in all its grace, sacrifice and mercy. This is also seen in the command to take the Gospel to all the world (Mark 16:15-16). He wants all people in "all nations" (Matthew 28:19). When churches determine to follow our Lord they are not only manifesting faith in him, they are also manifesting his love to those to whom they reach out. Further, some churches have contributed to helping needy saints in various places. The scriptures teach this is likewise an act of love (2 Cor. 8:8). In places where darkness and sin have abounded grace is now abounding through the love shown by churches supporting the preaching of the Gospel. Good works are being done to the praise of our God (2 Cor. 9:13).

The Contribution of Individuals

In reading the reports of other men and in my own experience in foreign work it is striking how much has been done by individuals to support the spread of the Gospel in foreign countries. Not only do many brethren send one-time or steady support, individual Christians have helped in a variety of other ways as well. Much of this is logistical support such as taking care of the financial affairs of men working overseas or mailing out a given brother's reports. Still others have contributed computers, helped with printing literature, mailed needed supplies, etc. These brethren teach us some lessons by their example:

  1. The nature of true riches. Paul charged the rich (and brethren in the U.S. are rich compared to others in this world), "that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate" (1 Timothy 6:18). Christians who support foreign workers are following these words from Paul. They are thus "laying up in store of themselves a good foundation against the time to come" (1 Timothy 6:19). It is hoped that such brethren will "not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). May more brethren follow their example!

     

  2. Setting a commendable example. A number of individuals in the New Testament are commended for the help they gave to Paul in his work (Romans 16:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:16-18). These brethren, appearing in holy writ, are examples for us to follow. Likewise, brethren who follow in their footsteps today become examples for others. Following such examples today will lead to more souls being saved. We commend these brethren for their efforts!

Conclusion

We are thankful for churches and individuals who have given their time and resources to help further the Gospel in other places*. We pray you will not grow weary in your efforts. All cannot go and preach the Gospel in other countries. However, as we have shown in this article, all can do some thing. Those of you making such contributions as we have detailed herein exemplify this. May the Lord bless you in all your efforts in the Gospel.

* Indeed, we are thankful for all efforts put forth in the service of Christ, but the emphasis of this feature in Watchman Magazine is on foreign evangelism.


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