By Herschel E. Patton
The apostle Paul, referring to his heritable advantages, training, and zealous activities in a popular cause said, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).
Such sacrifice and conviction have been in the past, and still are, demonstrated today. One such case involves a young couple who were “missionaries” in Scotland.
Last year, Regina Green (daughter of Ken Green) and Phillip McGahey fell in love and were married. This marriage was viewed with apprehension by both families and others. Phillip had been brought up under strong “liberal” influences and was educated to evangelize in a foreign field, under the sponsoring church system. His father is an elder in a large liberal church in Tennessee which was the “sponsoring church” for Phillip as he preached in Scotland. Regina, on the other, hand, was the daughter of a popular, effective, sound preacher who has successfully exposed the unscripturalness of liberalism and, therefore, greatly influenced by “anti-ism,” as liberals view it.
Despite these differing backgrounds, – Phillip and Regina married and went to Scotland. Soon, things done by the brethren there and endorsed by their sponsoring church caused doubts in Phillip’s mind, resulting in his making a thorough study of “the Issues.” The result was a change of convictions, a complete break with his sponsoring church, and a return to the States. After making this break, even if the sponsoring church had been willing to fly them back to the States, Phillip had already informed them he could no longer accept support from the “sponsoring church” system. Knowing the deepness of conviction and sacrifice made, the Jordan Park church here in Huntsville is flying Phillip and Regina back to the States, where we believe they can be of great worth to the cause of truth. In a letter to the Jordan Park church, Phillip tells of his changed convictions and actions.
To the elders and brethren at Jordan Park,
Regina and I want to just express our thanks to you all for helping us out in this time of need. There are no words that can express our gratitude for what you are doing for us.
This decision we have made is probably the hardest thing that we have ever done, but it was the only right thing to do. Jesus said in Luke 14.25ff that, if your family is more important than Jew, then you cannot be His disciple, if you are not willing to bear the burden of the cross then you cannot be His disciple, and finally Jesus said if the pleasures of this world mean more to you than He does that you cannot be His disciple. We wanted to be His disciples so we gave it all up for Him.
I would like to take some space to tell you brethren about my decision and how it came about. About seven months ago Regina and I came to Scotland to do mission work. Before we came, there were several weeks that I studied the issues that have divided the church, not really knowing what the issues were. I read some one-sided material on the subject and was convinced that what I believed was right 77tere was even one Sunday when I stood up and preached against what I now believe to be right. I had no doubts about it until I sat down over lunch one day to talk about this with Robert Jackson and Ken Green. We did not talk very long. I would not listen to them because my mind was already prejudiced against what they had to say, but they did show me how the sponsoring church arrangement was not found in the Bible.
I went away thinking that I needed to just study my view a bit more. A few weeks later, in Franklin, Tennessee, I heard a sermon on Bible authority preached by my brother Ward Hogland. That was the first time in my life that I had ever heard a sermon preached on Bible authority, and it frightened me. It frightened me because brother Ward showed why the churches of Christ are divided. They are divided because of Bible authority. That sermon really had me thinking. Later I again talked with brother Green and also Ed Harrell.
By the time we left for Scotland. I had pushed all of my fears and thoughts to the back of my mind, hoping they would go away. I was actually afraid to study both sides of these issues. months went by as Regina and I settled in, hem in Scotland, and on several occasions we would talk about it.
It was during the month of December that I once again started to think on these issues. The brethren here had a church-sponsored Christmas Party. I openly objected to it at the business meeting and questions were asked of me that I did not want to answer. My objection was that we could not find where the church ever celebrated Christmas or paid for a party and bought gifts for children. They immediately put me on the spot so 1just asked them where it was in the Bible. They did not answer but asked if I objected to expedients and other things that were not in the Bible.
I was so disturbed that I began to study more and more to see why I had objected. It was because there was no Bible authority. I studied more and found there was also no authority for sponsoring churches and human institutions. I found out the Bible tells me that the church is all-sufficient to accomplish the work that God gave it to do on the local level.
I was shocked at what I had learned, so I began to call Ken Green and ask him if that is what he believed and he said yes. I called him on several occasions.
Then when I was convinced I was right, I had to do the hard part-tell my parents, sponsoring church, and supporting churches about what I now believe. It was so hard to do, but I had to ask myself if I wanted to be a disciple of Jesus or not.
If it were not for you brethren, I would not be able to come back to the States. My sponsoring church is still sending me money even though I have told them not to. I will not take it, but send it back to them.
We now realize that the situation we have been in is sinful. Please pray for us and forgive us for giving in this unscriptural situation of a sponsoring church. We want to come home and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
We are selling our house, furniture, and car. Please pray for us that they will sell quickly. We are going to come home the last week in March even if our house hasn’t sold because we do not want to be a burden to the church.
We love you all so much.
In the love of the Lord,
Phillip and Regina
Phillip is scheduled to preach at both services at Jordan Park Sunday, March 31. 1 believe brethren who are interested in scripturalness and soundness will want to encourage this young couple, who have sacrificed so much, in every way they can. Churches in need of a preacher or who can use the services of Phillip in any way, may get in touch with him through Ken Green (4605 Dyshel Dr. S.W., Huntsville, AL 35805, Phone 837-1943).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 10, pp. 291-292
May 16, 1985