By Steve Wallace
The most good in mission work, in cases with which I am familiar, comes when a man (or men) moves to the mission field of his choice and stays for an extended period of time preaching the gospel. Churches that have been planted by such efforts in various places in the U.S. and around the world testify to the effectiveness of this method of evangelism. Surely all would agree with the above assessment.
But what if a man who cannot move to a foreign country is able to spend a period of weeks or months spreading the Word there? Can this be productive good? Some have objected to such efforts, and they have objected at a bad time. Doors have opened in more places than we would have ever thought possible 10 years ago and, speaking from experience, it is generally difficult to find men to commit to either short or long stays. If a man cannot be found to move to a prospective field of labor is there no other way to spread the gospel in that field? Are brethren who oppose short efforts right? I agree that some short preaching efforts are as far as can be outwardly judged a waste of time and money, and would even admit to having participated in some such efforts in the past in ignorance. However, can short trips produce good results? The following points are in defense of such efforts
1. They are scriptural. Paul and his companions were only in Thessalonica for a very short time and yet were able to establish a church there (Acts 17:1 ff).
2. They are effective. In my own experience I know of two churches that have been established as the result of short trips by a number of brethren. Such brethren have planned their trips to a given city so as to overlap with one another and thus make a lengthy effort at reaching the lost in that city. As people were convened other brethren were stirred to come and work with the small churches that sprang up. Two men, having seen the need, moved to one of the cities. What I have described above is the preaching efforts that have taken place in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania.
3. More cost effective than our modern gospel meetings. Everyone is concerned that money be spent wisely, that we get the “most bang for the buck.” Short term preaching efforts, when properly done, touch thousands more lost souls with the gospel than the average gospel meeting in the U.S. And yet they cost only a few hundred dollars more than the average gospel meeting! The dollar is still ridiculously high against most East European currencies. Lecture halls can be rented, tracts can be printed, and interpreters hired for very low prices. “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).
4. They bring long term workers to the mission field. A good number of men who have moved to foreign fields have done so after having first worked for a short time in the place they eventually moved to. Some, including this writer, had no intention of ever moving away from the U.S. when they first ventured abroad.
Short term workers are needed in the mission fields just as much as are long term workers. Please do not be misled by well-meaning brethren who argue to the contrary. Facts show that such trips can be productive of observable good results if they are carried out correctly. So, can you come?
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 5 p. 15
March 2, 1995