Messengers Distributing Assistance

By Wallace H. Little

Phil. 2:25 reads, “Yet I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and he that ministered to my wants.” 2 Cor. 8:23 states, “Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messenger of the churches and the glory of Christ.” 1 Cor. 16:3, 4 records, “And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.” Phil. 4:14-18 tells the same story; in part, it reads: “. . . But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you . . . . ” Acts 24:17 reads, “Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.” Acts 11:29, 30 says, “The disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea; which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 6:1-6 records, “. . .look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business . . . .”

From these Scriptures, we conclude that the messengers for distribution of help were approved men, known or known of by the assisting saints, and personally familiar with the need. Further, since there were adequate grounds for approval, trust in their integrity and fairness was well founded; they were “honest men” as required. They were personally accountable and acceptable both to the ones sending the aid and those receiving it.

In the Philippines, in August of 1976, tidal waves smashed into the coast of Mindanao. When the news reached the United States, several of us raised what help we could. Nearly 9630,000.00 of this was sent to one man I recommended. A large portion of it was properly used. Yet accounting left little doubt some could have been misappropriated. Since I was one of those recommending him, I bear a major share of the responsibility. I ask the forgiveness of all for my carelessness in not insuring that the requirements of a messenger were met.

At the end of the civil strife in Nigeria, nearly $100,000.00 was sent for relief of needy brethren there. One American preacher acted as messenger. He was known of the contributing United States churches and individual saints. He insured that the benevolence was distributed as it was needed, personally verifying the need. Virtually all the money was used for benevolence, its intended purpose. The difference between Nigeria and the 1976 Philippine situation was in the messengers. The result in the Philippines: questionable handling of part of the fund, and consequent distrust among United States brethren concerning the integrity of saints there. And more, the jeopardy of the soul of the man who did the distribution.

Greater wisdom on my part in applying scriptural principles could have resulted in the selection as a messenger an American preacher familiar with the work and the need there, one known or known of and approved by brethren here in the United States. Then he personally could have overseen the distribution of the benevolence, as happened in Nigeria. A proper messenger would have insured that all went to meet the need, and that the distribution was fair and equitable.

There would, of course, have been his expenses. But these would have been far less than the improperly accounted-for funds. And the brother who actually handled the distribution would not have been in danger of falling before the temptation of such a large sum of money. I am not the only one having second thoughts on this. Both Jim Needham in Torch and Connie W. Adams in Searching the Scriptures have written on it. Their comments stimulated my thinking.

Truth Magazine XXII: 12, pp. 200-201
March 23, 1978