By Terrell Bunting
As a young missionary/evangelist living in a country far from my own homeland, experiencing the realization of a society not interested in God’s word, working with a handful of Christians struggling to hold forth the word of God, and coupled with maintaining my own faithfulness and development as a servant of God, I begin to truly understand the writings of Paul as he portrayed his feelings towards his brethren. Paul, as an evangelist, was often dependent upon their prayers, financial assistance and steadfastness. I would like to underline what God has revealed unto us concerning the matter of “brotherly love which has no boundaries.”
My intention with these words is to praise the thousands of faithful Christians who have touched me and my family’s lives during the past six years. These thousands upon thousands of Christians are truly “lights in the world” which rarely receive the recognition they desire. Too often the emphasis is placed upon the preacher who leaves his country, his family and his brethren. Yes, I will admit there are many sacrifices to be made, but for once I wish to present the other side of the story. Just as evangelists in the New Testament did in the various letters found in the Bible.
Brotherly Love Has No Boundaries
Christ prayed that the same love that God had loved him with might prevail among his disciples (Jn. 17:25-26). Paul admonished the brethren to be “kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10). We are taught to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13-14). Our love is to increase and grow (Phil. 1:9). As a recipient of the brethren’s love, I wish to confirm that brotherly love has no boundaries. Though we live thousands of miles from our brethren we are not forgotten. About two years ago I suddenly became ill and was admitted into the hospital and was there for a total of 37 days, first suffering from spinal meningitis and then later kidney surgery. During this time my grandfather died. We received hundreds of cards, letters, flowers and phone calls from brethren who were concerned — a true manifestation of their love. These brethren were from all over the world, not only the USA. “Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love” has become more meaningful to me each day I live.
For us to continue to devote our lives to the Lord’s church in this country we depend upon the financial support of our brethren. Paul spoke highly of these brethren at Philippi and Thessalonica who sent unto his needs (Phil. 4:10; 1 Thess. 3:6-7). We rejoice in the Lord as Paul did as we too have been greatly blessed by many congregations and individuals who have sacrificed in order to see the gospel taught in this land. From small struggling congregations to large, well-established congregations we have been recipients of this “work of faith and labor of love” (1 Thess. 1:3). The writer of Hebrews expresses it well, “God will not forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister” (Heb. 6:10).
Brotherly Comfort and Consolation Has No Boundaries
The Bible speaks of brethren comforting one another. Paul spoke of the great joy and consolation he had, being refreshed by his brethren. Peter wrote of the compassion that was to abound among the people of God. We often think of comfort and consolation in times of difficulty and sadness. Brethren from all over the world have comforted, refreshed and provided us with much needed encouragement. Imagine working for six years in a place where no more than two have been baptized, where the local congregation has only 10 members and three children, and where one tries to do his best to interest society in the truth where immorality has become “morally accepted.” As an evangelist in such a place, I have come to understand the value of patience and endurance for the cause of Christ. I firmly believe there are others to save in this land, maybe not hundreds or thousands but the value of the few souls searching is more than worth my time, effort and patience. So many brethren have written us and comforted us, encouraged us, sent packages, and asked in what way they could help us. All of this has refreshed our commitment to God. This year we lost our son and once again we were comforted and consol-ed, by whom? Yes, our brethren! I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:26, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:4-11 concerning the comfort he had received in his tribulation, being comforted by brethren within the comfort of God. It is with deep emotion that we thank our brethren for the comfort they have provided us over the past six years.
Because of this love, comfort and consolation which has no boundaries, I remain committed to a life as an evangelist for a small, struggling congregation of the Lord’s people, far from my homeland, my brethren and most of my family. Who is to be thanked? It is the thousands of brethren who faithfully serve God, pray for others, are aware that the kingdom of God is much greater than just the USA and are aware that there is a need to evangelize the whole world!
I close with the passages from God’s word which portray the feelings I have because of my brethren’s love throughout the world. What a wonderful, marvelous family we belong to.
For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me (Gal. 4:15).
I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints (Phile. 4-5).
All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. (Tit. 3:14-15)
I am appreciative brother in Christ living in a far away place.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 4, p. 1
February 18, 1993