World Evangelism: Rags to Riches

By Leslie Diestelkamp

Fifty years ago most faithful churches were rural groups. Only a few cities in America had more than one or two congregations and many big cities had none at all. Most churches had simple, frame meeting houses with plain plank floors, often unvarnished, and with no class rooms at all. But things have changed. Many cities now have dozens of congregations and almost no cities of any size have any at all. Rural churches may have diminished in number and in strength, but there are now hundreds of towns that have large congregations. Churches all over the country meet in lovely masonry buildings, carpeted throughout, with padded pews and with plenty of class rooms and other rather lavish facilities. Yes, weve come a long way — all the way from rags to riches.

In the last twenty-five years work in new fields has been increased tremendously. We can truthfully say that the gospel has been preached on every continent and even in most countries. Yet I do not believe our efforts in remote fields have kept pace with our affluence. In other words, our great numerical strength and financial ability have not yet been utilized in accord with our responsibilities and in view of our opportunities. We here in America are not only the richest people in the world, but we are the richest that ever lived. God may not expect us to become poor for the sake of the gospel, but he surely expects us to act like the rich people we really are.

As we cherish our $20.00 and $30.00 leather-bound Bibles, what about the two billion people in the world that have no Bible at all? As we, banter and beg our neighbors to respond to the gospel which they have heard and rejected again .and again, what of the hundreds of millions of people who have never heard once? As we spend millions of dollars for more buildings here buildings which are really used so little each week-what of the scores of nations in which not even the price of one such building has ever been spent in proclaiming truth?

Bridges Built and Chasms to Span

In very recent months it has been gratifying to see that a number of capable preachers have determined to cross some borders, open some doors, launch some new work and help in some already established but weak outposts. Plans for such work have been announced for Canada, Norway, Australia, India, the Philippines, and others that I may have forgotten just now. Of course, these are in addition to the many faithful men now preaching in other distant and destitute fields around the world. Every good man who plans to enter such work should be immediately and generously supported. Those of us who cannot go are not unfaithful because we stay at home, but we demonstrate self-centered selfishness and a minimum love for God and for the gospel if we fail to send and support those noble ones who sacrifice so much of that which we hold so dear.

But more and more young men need to be preparing themselves for greater usefulness. Who will learn the languages of Russia, China, etc. so that they may go when the doors finally do open? Even now there is a desperate need for preachers who speak French, German Japanese and Spanish so that they could go into fields that are now ready to be sown with gospel seed. “The field is the world” said Jesus, and it is still true that “the laborers are few.”

May 4, 1972