By Irven Lee
There are capable men, both young and old, who have an earnest desire to go into areas where there are very few, if any, members of the Lord’s church. They know that many are supported to work in such areas, so they seek help that they may be supported to give full time to such an effort. Who could condemn this?
It seems that the more ideal situation exists when men go to the field to plant the truth and churches on their own send to them. Paul worked with his own hands making tents until help came. His letters were expressions of gratitude rather than appeals for help. His work in earning for himself became an example by which he did some of his teaching. (Please read Phil. 4:10-19; 2 Thess. 3:7-12; Acts 18:14; 20:33-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12.)
It would be good if more strong men realized that they could go into special fields of need and work with their own hands while serving the Lord. Some of the best work that I have done in the Lord’s church may have been in the two decades in which I taught math in high schools. It did take some day and night work, but that was not new (Acts 20:31; 2 Thess. 3:8). The time may be approaching in this worldly generation when more good preachers will have to “make tents.”
What do men actually do who go to preach in areas away from those who support them? Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:17-35). Many faithful men, in a similar way, stay busy today. Study is one important way one can occupy his time in this age when men are not inspired. There should be a happy balance between time spent in study and time spent with people. Do some preachers who are in the “mission field” spend heir time very much as retired people do?
People who desire support to go preach should look first among those who know them. Paul was supported by those who knew and loved him. If a man we have never seen or heard of calls us by telephone to ask us if we would help him find twenty-four thousand dollars per year to be sent to him in some area we know nothing about, we are at a loss to find any positive answer. If he people who know him well do not support him, should we? There may be a few who count the support the primary aspect of their mission. They are bored by secular work.
Some should not go into difficult fields because of their lack of knowledge, faith, zeal, willingness to work, common sense or wisdom, etc. Elders need to know what they are doing and whom they are supporting when they dispense the funds. The supply of funds is not inexhaustible, and there are many good works to be supported.
Some churches accumulate many thousands of dollars in the banks to the great benefit of the banks and with no good spiritual reason. This is a big world, and we need to do what we can to help. The sick world needs word from the great Physician. Is there any sign of wisdom in storing back funds in the bank? Is indifference, selfishness, or some other reason back of this? Some churches who are much troubled by lack of unity may have trouble agreeing on where and to whom the money should be sent. People give more when good use is being made of the funds.
In some areas churches are giving to many good people so that their checking accounts are low. There must be an increase in contributions or no more promises of help. It is sad but true that some churches have reached a point of zero growth. They grew in numbers for a while and in the spirit of giving as their incomes increased. There is danger that they will lose their first love as they come to be satisfied and will cease to put forth special effort to evangelize their own communities. Their giving to evangelists in other fields may become a sort of form with little interest in the work being supported. This is a sad note. Some wells of support are drying up.
One who receives financial help should write a thank you note often and include information on efforts, accomplishments, and problems for the maintaining of interest and concern in the supporting church. Any church that is putting thousands of dollars into a work each year certainly deserves to hear what is happening at the other end of the line. Some through ingratitude, thoughtlessness, or some other cause can hardly be persuaded to report with any regularity. Would it be all right to stop sending the checks?
Some who preach need to go far from those who support them because their conduct, disposition, and lack of zeal are such that the supporting churches would not support them if they knew them better. Let us give thanks for the many effective workers who are grateful to the supporting churches and happy in seeing the fruits of their labors where they work. Keep the good work going. Such good workers (laborers) are worthy of their hire.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 13, p. 391
July 4, 1985