A Call to Responsibility
W.G. "Bert" Enostacion
Time and time again, too many people believe the word "responsibility" has a negative notion; to them, the word is better avoided than fulfilled. However, such is a complete opposite situation to those faithful proclaimers of the Word who have born scars in standing on the truth; to them, the word is RESPONSE-ABILITY! It is always sought rather than avoided; emphatically embraced rather than rejected. Happiness to tackle such day-to-day responsibility has been felt by each worker.
The New Testament Christians set forth such principles. Notice when the early church suffered persecutions, "those who were scattered around went out preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Such curtailing action made by those people around them did not hinder these faithful men from pro-claiming the gospel of God; instead members multiplied tremendously.
We are familiar with God's calling on the Apostle Paul "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God"(Acts 26:18). Taking on the same ground, we are here preaching the same gospel, so that through our never-ending efforts, we could do the same that people "may turn from darkness to light and from Satan to God!"
Men and women by the thousands are dying all over the world every day without the opportunity of hearing the gospel of God. Many of these might have been saved, had someone taught them God's word, though it is equally true also, that many of these may not obey the truth even had they learned it. Nevertheless, this is what God had charged every faithful member in every generation since the day of Pentecost, that the saving gospel may be preach to every creature (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Rom. 1:16).
Tracing such demonstrations of responsibility since the early beginning of the church down to the road of restoration, many honorable and faithful men shed their own blood in defense of the gospel. If not through their untiring efforts, we could not have been scripturally grounded today as it has been if not to their call of such responsibility before God. We owe much to these faithful men who set "footprints in the sands of time" for us today to follow.
The same demonstrations of responsibility were seen when the Iron Curtain opened its walls. Many American brethren ventured to enter the Iron Gate to "sow" the precious seed. In just a few months, we read of their success in those lands. What encouraging news it was for these faithful men and their worthy sacrifices for the cause of Christ!
Aside from the Iron Gate, the gospel has been sown in China among many Chinese people through the efforts of Jeffery Kingry and his family. After Jeff, many had joined them; they were, Dale and Marlene Smelser; Robert and Susan Small and their two cute little daughters; Ken Green; Garry Sandusky; Darrell Haub; Dan and Jeanie Clendening and many more; even this writer had a short opportunity in helping to sow the gospel in that place, particularly Hong Kong in 1991.
At present, the gospel efforts continue in China. Fred Newman and his family are in Taian, Shendong Province, China; Hong Kong, has Bob Small. Though Bob and his family stay in Cebu City, Philippines, but his labors mainly are in Hong Kong. The church in Hong Kong meets at #15 Hennesey Road, Wan Chai every Sunday morning.
In Cebu City, a new congregation was started by brother Bob Small in Lebangon District; it was a two-fold effort done by him to this effect.
Aside from these faithful men, many has been in and out of other countries, such as India, Africa, Japan and other nations and races. Brethren, this is responsibility demonstrated!
Every gospel preacher going to a foreign land preaching the message of salvation cannot fulfill such mission with great success without the assistance of churches sending funds to their needs. Appeals of these worthy brethren ring far and wide, and responsible churches want the gospel preached to them.
In most cases, American churches send financial assistance to many foreign workers in many lands; including the Philippines. Many Filipino preachers are working on a "full-time" basis, having someone sharing their financial needs both in their family and on their evangelization efforts. To this effect, every native worker must devote all his time and efforts in the preaching field, and not to engage in any field or business. Only those who are not full-time workers have the right to seek secular work or engage in business.
Regarding a monthly support of a certain preacher, it is not good to have it in a standardization concept.
Some Americans who came to the Philippines in recent years, has categorically suggested a standardization of support to a level of $ 150 each preacher. This amount is not always enough to aid a preacher to a full-time basis. Many things must be considered to this matter: first, the place where that preacher was located; second, the number in the preacher's family; third, the program of work a certain preacher is doing.
A $150 per month salary received by a preacher with 7 children and a wife living in a city, is not adequate. The amount is not even enough for a preacher in the province. Provincial preachers are categorized on three distinct levels: (1) those that are living on a 1st class municipalities; (2) those that live in 3rd class municipalities; and (3) those that are living in the barrio.
A certain preacher who was able to justify his expenses with the kinds of program of evangelism he is doing, must be given the attention by those with whom he may be in contact. A $500 a month salary for a native preacher who lives in a 1st class municipality and has a great program of work, is not even enough. Considering a preacher's in-come is far beyond on any progress being enjoyed by all professionals around. While everybody works for his own progress to obtain a financial empire, gospel preachers' income is for the progress of the Lord's work! In short, all professionals' income is coming in, preachers' income is going out of their pockets! That is the big difference.
The more funds given to a worthy Filipino preacher, the more progress of his own gospel efforts, unless that preacher is corrupt. All these can be seen on the scope of work being done. From time to time, American churches must have first hand information on the where abouts of the man whom they support. I mean by that, each American church or individual, must know on a first hand basis Amen! of the work, the family and the progress of works done by those whom they are sending support. If they could not go, they should send someone to visit those whom they have fellowship with, not just depending on what the native preacher sends in his monthly report to them. The native preacher might be so hesitant to ask things through his letters, so there is a need that a first hand visit by someone to see the need. Brethren, this is responsibility shared.
Suggestion For Dealing with Some Problems
Problems are always a matter that exist as long as there are efforts done with sincerity. When such a problem exists among native brethren, Americans who have the knowledge on it must assist to resolve it to the best of their abilities and not to biasly side with those whom they trusted more. Their best stand is to be neutral and help those native brethren resolve their problems. When false reports reach Americans, each report must be given the priority to resolve and find the truth of the matter; there should be no time lost! When Americans do not know who is telling the truth on a certain matter, the best way to settle the problem is to talk to those U.S. churches who have made known the matter, or the source of the matter. They are the best source of unbiased statements. Brethren, this is another face of responsibility!
A Call to Responsibility
It is of common concept, that support to a preacher is only limited to the man whose health and talent is useful. When preachers gets older and their own health has deteriorated, financial support to them has also deteriorated and faster! Many cases can be cited, but everybody knows of those preachers in the past 50 years who has been retired to the wheelchair! Look to their financial capabilities. It is a pity to see these once valiant men of the gospel who has been deprived of their rights to be compensated with the assurance for their retirement.
While all professionals who devote their life to their own professions receive pensions after their retirements, gospel preachers do not! If gospel preachers were given the due respect of assistance during their old age, it would just be a responsibility of anyone as the old preacher has devoted his life to preaching.
Brethren, this is the aim of this article; our preachers who devoted all their time, efforts and life to the preaching of the gospel have the right to expect from those who fellowship with him in the past for any "retirement!" It is logical to grant those who spent their lives in the preaching field, that when time comes that their bodies can no longer avail to stand up preaching, that someone will help them sustain life. Above all, this is what the Lord so desires, for "We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth."
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 2, p. 22-23