Foreign Evangelism

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

The last quarter of a century in this country has been discouraging to the Lord's people. We have witnessed a sizable element of God's people who, as John put it, "went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us" (I Jno. 2:19). Our departed brethren were exhorted, even as Jeremiah exhorted ancient Judah: "Stand ye in the way and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. . . ." (Jer. 6:16). However, also like ancient Judah, our erring brethren have bowed their necks unto God and said, "We will not walk therein."

Hence the apostasy that has already taken more than a quarter of a century to work its way throughout the Lord's people has nearly dashed the hopes of significant foreign evangelism. Yet all of us understand the gospel is for all nations (Mt. 28:19; Gen. 22:18; Isa. 2:2, etc.) Yet such a terrific struggle has been going on at home that but little time has been devoted to propagating the gospel in other lands.

The now surging interest in world evangelism is a healthy sign. It long has been my judgment that money spent to preach the gospel elsewhere never costs; it pays. The church that is spending some of its income for others, rather than selfishly lavishing it on themselves in ever more luxurious buildings, is a healthier church. Even a small church that can do but little toward propagating the gospel in a foreign field will find even that little help will do wonders for the morale at home.

We have turned the comer, and things are looking brighter to me. Of course, I am still aware of the mournful dirge that the liberal brethren are singing, "The 'Antis' are dying." This is mere wishful thinking on their part. There probably are about three thousand churches that have not bowed their knees to the Baal of institutionalism or centralization of oversight. One of the Filipino brethren last Summer asked me how many faithful churches there are in America. I told him that I did not know for sure, but that I would guess about 3000. He was astonished! He told me that the liberals there had reported that there were only three "Anti" churches in America, and that these were not flourishing. Some brethren apparently are not very careful how they handle the truth.

Quite a few news reports come to Truth Magazine, regarding work being done in other countries. In fact, so many reports are coming in now that we cannot even publish them all. Reports are coming in from Japan, South America, South Africa, Ireland, Nigeria, Rhodesia, Philippine Islands, Mexico, Norway, Canada, England, Vietnam, India, Australia, Italy, the Bahamas and perhaps other lands that do not readily come to mind.

J. T. Smith and Connie Adams report that there are no less than 75 faithful preachers of the gospel in the Philippine Islands alone. Nearly 50 of these men are being supported by churches that are maligned as "do-nothing-churches." Bountiful harvests are being borne in many countries. Paul Williams is reporting outstanding results in his preaching trips. Literally hundreds are being baptized. Smith and Adams witnessed the baptism of 61 persons during a one month preaching trip to the Philippines.

We have poor-mouthed and made excuses long enough. Some brethren are yet saying, "four months, and then cometh the harvest" (Jno. 4:35). Some churches are always just getting ready to do some outstanding work. They never seem quite to get it done. Some brethren "talk a good game," but as someone has said, "Talk is cheap." We need to pray for vision that we may see the wonderful opportunities before us not only here at home, but also abroad. Jesus told the excuse making disciples "behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal..." (Jno. 4:35, 36)

It is time that we pray for laborers into the Lord's harvest. Jesus said, "The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest" (Lk. 10: 2). How long has it been since you seriously prayed this prayer? Will you pray that prayer right now? Even this minute? I nearly dare you to pray it. I know if you begin praying about the dearth of laborers, and you are praying earnestly, the same conviction will come upon you as settled upon Isaiah. Isaiah said he heard a voice saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" But Isaiah also answered these questions: "Here am I; send me" (Isa. 6: 8). If you will pray about the harvest and the shortage of laborers, verily you will hear the voice of your conscience within as it says, "Here am I; send me."

We have licked our sores long enough. We have shed the tears of grief over the shredded Body of Christ. It is time that we rise up from our grief, and begin to build 'anew. Nehemiah, and those who accompanied him back to see the rubble of Jerusalem that was, had to "rise up and build" (Neh. 2:18). It is true that their initial efforts were feeble and their enemies mocked them, but they were efforts, and God blessed them in their doing.

Let our broken hearts be assuaged. Let us weep no more over tragedy within the Body but tragedy that already has happened, and cannot be reversed. Let us lift up our heads in confidence as our feet stand amidst the rubble made of the spiritual Temple of God by the injections of humanisms and innovations, and "in the strength of the Lord" (Eph. 6: 10) go forth to do what we must do. "Let us rise up and build," not only in the cities and hamlets of this country, but also upon every mountain and plain, and every continent and island of God's creation. Let the seed be sown faithfully and steadily, and some day soon we can sing with new hearts, we are "Bringing In the Sheaves!"

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 34, pp. 3-5
July 8, 1971