By James H. Shewmaker
This is the northern midwest United States. None of these states has more than 10 sound congregations. I know of only one self-supporting church in these states.
There are only 30 congregations in a 7 state region. The population of this area is about 11,159,335. The area consists of 599,783 square miles. Many other states have several times as many congregations as this entire region has.
The statistics mentioned in the above paragraph were derived from Directory of Churches of Christ 1986 and from the 1986 Rand McNally Road Atlas.
It may not sound as impressive to say “We support men in the midwest” as it does to say “We support men overseas” but the work is here and many have never had much exposure to the truth.
This is not to detract at all from the work in other areas. These works need support, also. However, many churches want to send support to areas where it is needed the most and we do not want you ignorant of the needs in this region.
Many churches have had a hard time keeping preachers, due to the preachers having difficulty raising support for the work in this area.
Much of the problem, I am sure is related to the fact that many are unaware of the fact that this region is as difficult as it is.
Although I have lived in this area before, the work in Grinnell is the first full-time work I have engaged in as a preacher in this region. It is the fourth place I have been in since beginning full-time preaching.
I have been seeking outside support because the congregation in Grinnell can no longer afford even the support they were supplying me during the first six months, especially since the family which had accounted for the largest contribution has moved away.
In spite of the fact that I have sent several hundred letters, at the time of this writing I have yet to have even one church agree to send to my support on a regular monthly basis.
The denominations refer to areas where the work is difficult as mission fields. As this term does carry territorial connotations in its popular religious usage, I prefer the term “Hard fields.” Young man if you have been thinking of going to hard fields, we have them waiting right here. It’s a good training ground for work in foreign fields.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 14, p. 431
July 16, 1987