By Irven Lee
I was allowed to speak from three or four nights to ten days at each of almost forty churches during 1979. These efforts carried me into nine states. There were also several congregations visited where my part was to speak one night or in the regular services on one Sunday.
I am happy to report that there is a growing number of new churches. My year included meetings at three such. new churches where I had part in their first meeting; I heard of numbers of others. Those whom I visited are yet small and struggling, but they show zeal and determination.
There is also a growing number of capable young preachers. Some of these whom I have met are in their early twenties and yet are doing the work like mature men. Many men who are thirty years of age or older are leaving secular work and are going into full-time preaching. Some are going into full-time work at retirement age after having served as elders for years where they had lived and worked at various jobs. Some of these men are serving with small churches that face difficult problems. These men of age and maturity can often give stability to these groups that have lacked leadership. These things are very encouraging as I view the field.
There are things, as always, that are not encouraging. It is not uncommon to find a church that is hindered by indifference, worldliness, or quibbling. There is a serious lack of Bible knowledge among many members of the church over the land. The devil can and does so much harm because of these weaknesses. It is too easy for false doctrines to creep in undetected in such places. It is only in those churches where the leaders and other members are alert and watchful that error can be kept out. Fortunately, there are yet many good students here and there to help in the fight.
I do not know how many I saw baptized during the year, but I do know that the number was very small considering the number of sermons preached. This does not mean that the churches are not growing because there- are those who were baptized before or after the meetings. It seems that most are baptized after private personal efforts. Fewer are baptized than in some past years, but a larger percentage remain faithful.
It is very encouraging to find so many devout young people in some churches. There are many able and willing song leaders, and many young men are encouraged to make talks and to take part in other public aspects of the work. It seems, however, that there are always two sides to every coin. It is sad to observe that worldliness rules the young lives in some communities. Among them there is a lack of reverence during periods of worship and their lives show a lack of respect for things holy. In such churches, there is little hope for the future.
A little good work is being done by and among black people. Let us hope that much more will be done. A few attend with white people in several areas, but white brethren in many places report that it is difficult for them to reach more blacks. There are very few faithful black preachers. May their tribe increase! It seems that most black people hesitate to allow white Christians into their homes for Bible studies. Much thought needs to be given to this effort.
More Catholics, particularly, in some of the northern cities, are being reached with the pure gospel than in earlier years. It seems that the Roman Church may be in more distress than it has been since Martin Luther’s day. Its medieval customs and doctrine from the Dark Ages do not fit into a modernistic world. Their members generally are not at all convinced of the infallibility of their head.
These observations are my own and are based solely on my own limited experiences and upon conversations with faithful brethren whom I have met in my travels. My work in many communities gives me some opportunities to observe situations that those that are doing their work in one area might not have, so I have felt free to speak.
It is amazing how much the word of God can do to lift one out of an unholy environment to make of him a saint who exemplifies the beauty of holiness. There are some able and wonderful soldiers of Christ whose backgrounds would have appeared to make such worthy lives impossible.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 12, p. 194
March 20, 1980