An Open Letter to Action's Editor: Data Base Set Up On Nigerian Evangelists
Benson A. Onwuchuruba
Anambra State, Nigeria
The above caption appeared on page 2 of the February 1992, issue of World Bible School (WBS) monthly journal Action which you serve as its editor.
A copy of the journal in reference was made available to me by a brother who does the work of an evangelist in the northern states of Nigeria. Going through the various articles that formed the contents of the paper, I came across the quoted caption by brother Steve Worley.
According to brother Worley's report, he observed and detected some lapses along the line of American benevolence and support to "Nigerian Preachers." These are:
1. A case of an unbeliever who tricked churches and received shoes on benevolent ground. The recipient later sold the shoes and made brisk financial gains.
2. Another was brother Worley's discovery of one who receives more than one support. Quote: "I found one man receiving support from two sources in USA and neither knew the other was helping." It is understood that a measure to curb such excesses led to the suggestion of a "Data Base." The report further showed that the measure suggested by brother Worley has been ratified and approved "at a special meeting on Nigeria." Quote: "At a special meeting on Nigeria at the International. Bible College Expo 90 it was suggested that Chisholm Hills Church act as a collection point to receive information from churches or individuals who are supporting preachers in Nigeria."
Measures are intelligent means to check abuses and excesses which are prone in any system of an organization. But in Christianity, unlike in other organizations, the Scriptures direct in whatever should be done or introduced, to fall in line with the already laid down divine rule (1 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4: 11). It is on the basis of these divine injunctions, I decided to forward this rejoinder to point out demerits of the report, so that the record of the report should be put straight scripturally. My doubts of the report and the "Data Base" measure, stem from these questions:
1. Which book, chapter and verse(s) either from the precept, apostolic approved examples or necessary inference in the Bible can one read and learn of the so-called "Data Base" for churches and individuals to supply information about who and whom they support to preach the gospel at a given area?
2. According to the report, does brother Worley mean that it is dubious or unscriptural for a preacher to receive from more than one source for the gospel he preaches.
3. Regarding the "shoe deal" episode that involved an unbeliever, was a Nigerian preacher linked with the deal?
However, the following are my convictions on the question; expecting to know more from you sir.
1. I am yet to trace the Scripture(s) either in the precept, apostolic approve example or necessary inference, that support the "Data Base" measure method. I hope you will supply me the hidden Scripture. However, I traced that information or reports about the gospel work and support to the preacher to work in the gospel in an area, is direct affair between the sending church and receiving gospel preacher.
a. The Jerusalem church queried apostle Peter face to face about his affairs with the Gentiles. In the same vein, Peter reported to the church how God used him to bring the Gentiles into his service (Acts 11:3-18).
b. The Antioch church sent and sponsored Paul and Barnabas in the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). Their mission's report was a direct affair between Paul, Barnabas and the church (Acts 14:27). If the Data Base method was followed, Paul and Barnabas should have nothing to discuss with Antioch church; rather they should have deposited the information about their mission with Jerusalem church, where they first had their membership.
2. I believe brother Worley is conversant that the Scriptures are not against a gospel preacher receiving support from more than one source. Paul received from churches to work in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8). Then if the brother's report about one who receives from more than one source does not mean that he is against such, what does brother Worley want readers of his report to learn about his reported finding?
(3) The shoe deal was an abuse of benevolence which attracted the "Data Base" measure. Even though if preachers in Nigeria are involved in the trick, it did not justify introduction of an unscriptural measure to check the omission.
The "Data Base" to police information and funds going out of America for gospel work in Nigeria, is more "selfcentered" than for the proper utilization of the Lord's money as adduced by the reporter. I quite agree that the Lord's money should be properly accounted for and judiciously utilized, but not by adopting an unscriptural measure.
The hidden fact about the innovation in the field of evangelism is that brother Worley and his fellow American Missionaries in the northern state of Nigeria act as "supervising evangelists." The measure is to enable them to maintain full control of the funds sent by American churches and individualsfor the gospel work in Nigeria. Investigation has revealed that these American missionaries serve as intermediaries between some American churches and individuals supporting gospel work in the northern part of Nigeria and the preachers and churches there in the north. They are not messengers of churches as some are deceived to believe. They are custodians of all the funds from America for the gospel work in Nigeria. With preachers support they appoint preachers and rate them on their own discretion. This act of monopoly they enjoy in the northern states of Nigeria qualified them as intermediaries and not messengers. Because of this unscriptural monopoly and supremacy they enjoy, any attempt to adopt the scriptural way attracts their stout resistance. This gave rise to "Data Base" measure.
Therefore, may I use this opportunity to call on the churches and individuals in America who deposit money for evangelism in Nigeria with these American missionaries in the northern States of Nigeria to restudy the divine method of sponsoring the gospel work.
1. Support means for the gospel preaching should go to the preacher from the church. It is not intercepted by a middle person or organization. The receiving preacher receives exactly what the church sends (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15-16). There should be not alteration by the messenger. If there is any alteration of the support, the messenger has deviated from his work and acts as an intermediary. This is what American missionaries in the Northern States of Nigeria do. They tamper with the support funds and use their initiative. This is wrong for a messenger of the church.
2. Information both from the church to the preacher or from the preacher to the church is not scripturally centered.
It flows direct from either side (Acts 11:13-18; 13:1-4; 14:27).
3. American churches should learn their lesson and desist from centering funds meant for the gospel under the custody of a sponsoring church or the so-called missionaries. They should learn the scriptural direct affair method rather than the unscriptural second hand affair system. Such is digression from the divine pattern (2 Tim. 2:5; 2 Jn. 9).
4. The missionaries on their part should allow scriptural justice on giving and receiving of support for the gospel preaching to prevail. The bridge they form between churches and preachers amounts to building up what they destroy, they become transgressors (Gal. 2:18). I wish that they would read between the lines of the hand writing on the wall of our faith and retrace their over stepped steps.
5. Finally, to the Nigerian preachers doing the work of an evangelist in the Northern States of Nigeria under the oversight of the American missionaries, do not be deceived (Gal. 6:2). Remember that godliness is not for material gain (2 Tim. 6:5-6). Therefore what you receive from the supervising evangelists who approved your stay in your area of work is not the scriptural way. Opt out of such an ungodly method. Remember that you are encouraging the destruction of divine orders by so doing (Rom. 1:32).
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 23, pp. 720-721