"How Beautiful Are the Feet of Those Who Preach Good News!"
Victorio R. Tibayan
Coloocan City, Republic of the Philippines
Brethren Connie W. Adams and J. T. Smith traveled about 10,000 miles to preach and contend for the word of God in the Philippines. These good and able men of God came with the cooperation of sound churches and faithful individuals in the United States. It was accomplished not through uninspired human method but in a scriptural way, having for its pattern the New Testament's unique way of proclaiming the pure gospel. But of course, it would not have materialized had these two worthy preachers not been fully dedicated to the cause of Christ, truly desirous of serving Jesus wherever and whenever they can. This can be said also of their loved ones.
God was glorified in all the places they went. Saints with one accord expressed gratitude for being edified. A significant number of erring brethren were led back to the truth and multitudes of sinners brought to Christ. Brethren Smith's and Adams' winsome personalities adorned the doctrine of God and persuaded many to admire the efficacy of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." They were with us in person for twenty-seven days (May 1-27). And they left us with many good things in the Lord to reflect upon.
A Grueling Journey With Very Tight Schedule
Immediately after the visit of these two brethren was confirmed, the Filipino brethren excitedly arranged several gospel meetings and Lecture Programs in different places, almost encompassing the length and width of the Philippine Archipelago, for them to speak. Such itinerary necessitates travel by land, sea and air. Of these three modes of travel here, the last mentioned is the most comfortable. However, it has its own share in the disappointments and anxieties of travelers brought about by difficulties in planning schedules and getting the proper connecting flights. Once, Connie and J. T. were left stranded at the Davao airport soaked with rain! Most of the roads they traversed were not paved. A large portion is rough and at times winding around mountain sides with deep ravines or through gorges. When not raining, passengers are "treated" with dust all over their bodies. But when a downpour comes suddenly, as it did several times during their travel, vehicles are slowed down as they push through thick mud. Sometimes the road is slippery and to negotiate this, the driver must be an expert. These inconveniences are aggravated when passenger busses are overloaded to capacity and more so, when one has to bear the combined odor of the divers commodities allowed with the passengers. Travel by sea on the small inter-island boats is no better, if not worse. Yet through all these, our preaching brethren came out with good grace. Their sacrifices and fidelity to the Lord bore much fruits.
They Planted And Watered, But God Gave The Growth
Brethren J. T. Smith and Connie W. Adams, to our mind, can be ranked as among the best Bible preachers that we know of. Furthermore, they are blessed of God with good health and stamina which they needed especially for this trip. Both of them spoke morning, afternoon and evening throughout their stay in most of the places they went.
Five (5) souls in Pasay confessed Christ and were baptized for the remission of their sins. In Pagadian City, twelve accepted the Lord having been buried with Him in baptism. One liberal preacher was convicted and identified himself with the faithful brethren in that area. In M'lang, Cotabato, sixteen (16) persons with honest hearts obeyed the unadulterated gospel. Two liberal preachers, one of them is a head-teacher in the Elementary Grades, made a stand with the sound Christians there. At the Bible Lectures in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, twenty-nine (29) lost souls were added to the fold. (I believe that a few more were added later.) These are the immediate and tangible increase made by God, but we can never estimate the value that accrued from their preaching along different considerations.
One of the crowning fruits of their preaching and by the grace of the Father is the conversion of a whole congregation of believers in Makati, Rizal which is very near the faithful Pasay church. Both Brethren Adams and Smith had the opportunity to speak to them publicly and privately (later) with some of the elders. At the outset, brother J. T. spoke to them in the meeting with candor and discussed the things wherein we differ with them, appealing to the Holy Writ and Christ's prayer for the unity of all believers. Connie supplemented forcefully this good beginning with the same frankness and evident tenderness of heart characterized by firmness in the truth when he next stood for the question and answer period. And the sword of the Spirit pricked their hearts, especially the elders. (There are four elders in this church.) Although many were impressed, a good number from them raised questions and strongly reasoned in defense of their practice. That evening, no encouragement was felt to the effect that they would be gained for Jesus. But later, the elders sent for brethren Adams and Smith and after further studies, they made assurances to study more the scriptures to be right with God. Even before they (J.T. and Connie) left, Connie was again invited to speak to them. (Brother Smith was then left in Calapan.) He learned that the brethren in Dian, Makati have stopped using the organ and the practice of choir singing. And best of all, they have repudiated other unscriptural practices and identified themselves with the sound churches of Christ.
This church owns its meeting-house and lot. They have separated many years before from the Disciples' segment for their stand against the Societies which are akin to institutionalism. Since their separation, they have been wooed by different religious organizations. Brother Ray Bryan (a liberal sponsored-missionary) also tried, but unsuccessfully, to win them over. One reason why he failed was because he did not try to be honest with them. He pretended (maybe he did not) that the use of instrumental music and such other "insignificant" differences that existed between his group and theirs are not matters of test of fellowship, and that what is needed is to develop among them a feeling of brotherly love willing to partake with each other in worship services. But this "approach" did not impress the elders in that place. On the other hand, brethren Smith's and Adams' honesty and faithfulness in the doctrines of Christ won their approval and respect. The success of the Lord's words in that place augurs well for the advance of the simple gospel among the other Christian Church congregations.
J.T. Contended For The Truth
This debate paved the way for the coming of both J.T. and Connie here in the Philippines. (See Vol. XV, No. 21 - April 1, 19 7 1 issue of Truth Magazine) This was held inside the church-building in M'lang, Cotabato where brother Agduma preaches. Two propositions were discussed in four nights in the second week of May. It was obvious even from the beginning that the liberal opponent of Brother Smith did not have the scripture to support his position. In all the sessions of the debate, the brother upholding the sponsoring-type method in benevolence and evangelism had nothing to show but far-fetched suppositions and personal opinions. J.T. with the two-edged sword of the Spirit pierced and cut to pieces all his opponent's human reasoning. After the discussions, the result was clear-cut. At least one preacher identified with them confessed that he is now disturbed concerning where they stand. He will correspond with either of the two for further studies.
The Filipino brethren have received much spiritual blessings by the coming of these preachers. We will always remember Connie W. Adams and J.T. Smith as we have seen them and heard from them. Through these two beloved brethren, the inspired words, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" have become more meaningful to us.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 33, pp. 5-6