By Cecil Willis
Conscientious Christians rejoice at the spiritual battles won, no matter where the battle is fought throughout the world. Brethren in this country have in so many different ways evidenced a deep and an abiding interest in the propagation of the gospel in foreign countries. At least one hundred gospel preachers in other lands now are being supported by faithful churches, or individuals. Yet these American brethren continue to be maligned as being “anti-missionary,” or by some other such misrepresenting label.
My own experience with brethren has evidenced them to be quite willing to give sacrificially when a specific need is brought to their attention. This generous disposition has been manifested repeatedly as dire circumstances have occasioned appeals to be made to brethren in this country. Coming to mind at this time particularly are the appeals that have been made in recent years in behalf of needy brethren in Nigeria, Mexico, the Philippines, or some unusual need in this country.
Yet many Christians feel that they have so little opportunity to participate in such urgent needs. Often the need has been met before they hear about it. Someone has said that responsibility consists of ability and opportunity. Sometimes the ability is present but the opportunity is not known. In other instances, the opportunity may exist, but the ability does not. But when both ability and opportunity exist, then responsibility is ours.
Let me tell you about a continuing need in which each Christian could have a part, if he would like to do so. Ever since brethren from this country have begun to travel to some of the poverty-stricken foreign lands, requests continually have been received from native Christians in these lands for some teaching aids. In several of these countries, but especially is this true in Nigeria and the Philippines, there are scores of reasonably well trained men who are teaching the gospel. But frequently they are in need of tracts, basic study books, or other printed teaching media.
The people in some of these foreign countries are much more receptive to printed teaching material than are people in this country. Individual brethren in this land frequently can afford one or two daily newspapers, several secular magazines, perhaps be members of a book-club or two, spend a few hours a day watching programs on their color television, but then convince themselves that they do not have time to read a religious journal, or that they cannot afford to take one or more of the periodicals. Churches in some places can keep a well-stocked tract rack in their meeting house, and very little use is made of these tracts or booklets. Let me hasten to add that this condition does not exist in every church here. Some churches are making very effective usage of printed teaching instruments.
But tracts and booklets are extraordinarily effective in some foreign countries. I remember one occasion, when Roy Cogdill and I were in the Philippines in 1970, when about 4,000 copies of Truth Magazine were swept up in about one hour. Various brethren went through the stacks of papers and got themselves a copy of every different issue of the paper available. These papers were unwrapped and made available in a preacher’s home.
Some of the brethren who have been to Nigeria for prolonged tours have told me of the readiness with which people in that land will receive religious printed matter. One brother told me that he always passed tracts across the top of his automobile to outstretched hands when he stopped in a city to distribute tracts. He said if one did not keep his automobile between himself and the press of the people, he was apt to get run over. How many of you preachers in this country have that problem when you are distributing tracts?
Literally hundreds of requests have come to me, and to other preachers who have visited some of these foreign lands, asking for an ample supply of tracts. As funds have been available for this purpose, tracts have been mailed to these brethren requesting them. No effort has been made to keep up with how many tracts have been sent. I do, however, specifically remember mailing 20 000 copies of one tract. Additional requests are frequently received for other tracts, or printed teaching materials. Many preachers in foreign lands do not have even the most basic study helps, such as a concordance or a Bible dictionary. Books to a preacher are like tools of his trade to a craftsman.
As funds have been available, tracts have been sent to those who specifically requested them. In the packages of those tracts sent have been some of the booklets which I have written. There must have been at least twenty people who have written to tell me that a tract which I have written was instrumental in teaching them the truth of the gospel. Others who have written tracts must have had similar experiences.
Requests literally by the hundreds come to us for tracts, booklets, basic study helps, and in some instances, subscriptions to religious periodicals. We wish it were possible to answer every request and to send those teaching items requested. Occasionally some individual will offer to pay for some tracts. When the person so requests, invoices are sent directly to him to verify the shipment of the tracts, and to indicate what was sent where, and to whom. Even when requests for the invoices are not made, invoices are yet made and filed away to indicate what tracts have been sent.
Sometimes appeals for tracts and books appear to be so urgent that we send them whether anyone has provided the money with which to do so or not. Several hundred dollars worth of materials have been sent for which no one has supplied replacement funds. I believe I could enlarge upon that statement, and truthfully say that several thousands of dollars worth of teaching materials have been sent from our bookstore, for which no one has sent money to cover the costs of the items sent. The foreign subscriptions’ which we send, for which we are not paid, cost about $1000.00 per year.
If you would like to have a part in such a work, you can paya for the shipment of tracts or other printed material as requests for them come in. The Cogdill Foundation is a tax exempt organization, and contributions sent to the Cogdill Foundation are tax deductible on your federal income tax form, just as are contributions to private educational institutions. If you wish to make contributions to be used: to send free tracts or other printed materials to brethren in foreign lands who cannot afford to pay for them themselves, we will be glad to ship them to those requesting them. Or if you wish to have tracts sent to specific individuals, we will be glad to handle and ship the tracts you purchase.
We began this article by stating that some individuals would like to be involved in certain teaching efforts, but the opportunity does not present itself. The intention to lay the need before you for tracts and other teaching printed materials has long been in my mind. It is my opinion that in some of those countries where the gospel most readily is being received, enough competent native preachers are on the field to attend to the work that needs to be done. In most instances, native preachers can do the work more effectively than could an American. But in some of these poverty stricken countries, we do need to provide preachers and teachers with the sinews of battle. And tracts are among the most effective instruments. In the sending of tracts is one place where you can be involved in teaching people who are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away from you. If you would 1ike, to pay for the sending of some of these requested printed teaching instruments. let us hear from you.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:2, p. 3-4
November 8, 1973