Steve Wallace

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White Unto Harvest

What Became of the Eunuch?
(Providing for the Spiritual Needs of Remote Converts)

Last month we looked at the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. After the account of his conversion in Acts 8 the Ethiopian Eunuch disappears from the pages of inspired history. We are simply told that, "he went on his way rejoicing" (v. 39). We assume he went back to his home in Ethiopia and back to his work as treasurer of Candice, queen of that country (v. 27). However, in light of his character, we are led to wonder about his future as a Christian and the future of the Lord's work in Ethiopia.

Our purpose in asking the question contained in our title is not to direct attention to the eunuch specifically or engage in needless speculation. Rather, we seek to use him as an example of cases we sometimes face in mission work today. Specifically, that of people we convert who live far removed from us as well as other Christians of whom we may be aware. There have been a number of cases. Some are converted via Bible correspondence courses, others on a visit to a location where lectures are being held or where a church exists. Still others have been converted by a short-term preaching effort in their locale. After conversion such people are very much like the eunuch would have been in Ethiopia in that they find themselves nowhere near other Christians. How can we help such babes in Christ grow and prosper in the Lord? We offer several suggestions.

  1. Direct contact. By this we note the most obvious method of helping a remote convert. The best case scenario is for someone to move to such a Christian's area, to work in teaching him and in further evangelization. The next best form of direct contact would be for brethren to visit this Christian's area as they have opportunity. However, hard experience has shown that long-term workers are not easily found and short term workers must leave much undone by the very reason of their abbreviated presence.


  2. Literature. As noted in a previous article ("In the Language of Every Man," Watchman Magazine, February 2000, the translation and publication of literature is a tedious, time-consuming process when correctly done. Hence, while tracts, booklets and books can accomplish much good, keeping up a steady supply of them to a far away brother or sister can be challenging. We suggest that workers in given countries occupy a fair amount of whatever spare time they have in the production of such literature as there will always be a need for it. (Note: As one can see by reading over what we say herein, we write mainly about providing for the spiritual needs of non-English-speaking, remote Christians. It goes without saying that, if we can communicate with someone in English, some major hurdles have been overcome.)


  3. Tapes. Sermons, lectures and classes in foreign fields are generally interpreted simultaneously. Much good has been done by simply recording such material, making copies and mailing them to Christians in other places. This is simply exporting a practice we have used in the U.S. for years.


  4. Transportation to where brethren are. In Acts 20, Paul called for the elders of the church in Ephesus to come to where he was in Miletus (v.17). While not a parallel situation, it is a case of brethren coming to another location to hear teaching. In Lithuania, we converted a lady in the northern city of Siauliai, a two-hour bus ride from Kaunas. We visited her when possible and also sent her tapes, but were concerned about her general lack of contact with us and other Christians. The best solution to her situation was to pay for her bus ticket to come to Kaunas where she could assemble with brethren there. This has sometimes been done in the Philippines to bring brethren to Bible lectures. It has been a big help in building up remote Christians.


  5. E-mail. While involving considerable logistical challenges, we have found e-mail to be a big help in helping far-off Christians to grow. In most cases with which I have been familiar, the Christians so taught did not speak English. Hence, we not only had to come up with a computer for them, we also had to find one for a translator to use. (This is not too big a challenge as there are many old Pentium I's around that are either donated or purchased with funds donated for such purposes.) Because it is impossible to proof-read the translator's work in such cases (unless you personally have a working knowledge of the language used), one should use only the best translator available for this work. Also, the translator must be one accustomed to the terminology we use in our teaching. Due to possible errors in translation that can occur, this is the least desirable means of those we have mentioned for supporting a Christian in a remote place. However, it is better than nothing.


  6. Work on helping such a convert migrate to the U.S. We suggest this only if all else fails. There are very positive reasons for doing this. First, if such a Christian speaks English or learns it after their arrival in the U.S., they will be exposed to all the opportunities for growth American Christians make available. Secondly, hard facts show that many have prospered spiritually in the U.S. who have not done so while living in their native country. I speak of the many Christians I have met from various nations in Europe who have been converted while studying in the U.S. By contrast, efforts to evangelize the same nations from which these converts came have had little success. As we consider the plight of lone Christians in remote locations, we cannot ignore the lessons we have all taught about one of the consequences of absenting oneself from assemblies. It is difficult to maintain interest in spiritual things when you have no contact with other Christians. A note of caution: If bringing such a Christian to the U.S. were to become general knowledge there is a very real danger that others might be tempted to become Christians on the chance that they also might be able to come to America.

In Closing

A few remarks are necessary as we close this article. The first has to do with some of the challenges that we have considered in the support of remote Christians. If we are going to take it upon ourselves to convert those in places far from other Christians, we ought to also consider how we are going to "service" such converts. Another point flows from this one. Gospel preaching is more than first principles. There is often much excitement connected with efforts to reach the lost. Remember the efforts Paul, a prime example in missionary work, made to establish converts in the faith (Acts 16:36,41; 1 Thes. 3:1-3). This leads to a further point. It is generally much more demanding to help Christians grow in the faith than it is to initially convert them. This is most graphically illustrated by comparing how many short preaching trips have been made to "virgin soil" (where we know of no Christians in existence) with the number of brethren who have actually moved to work in such places after initial converts have been made. Suffice it to say in conclusion that, if those we convert are going to grow to be a force in spreading the gospel and edifying brethren in the future, we must work to build them up today.

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