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HOME MISSIONS–BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM

by Robert B. Boyd

This came from “Living Messages,” and was delivered  at the Louisville Bible Conference, the week of September 6-10, 1948. This was the first annual Fellowship conference. This year, 2017, is the 70th and once again day sessions will be held at Portland Christian School, Westport Rd. Campus and evening sessions at Sellersburg Church of Christ.

Several  years  ago I wrote  an  article inviting breth­ren    to   join    hands  in   creating  and   maintaining   a fund  for   home   mission   work.     The background o£ this   fund  was   simply    the   recognition  of   a   great need.     It  was  my  privilege  to  hear   of,  and   to  ob­serve,    a    number   of    neglected   and    undeveloped fields- fields   where    the   opportunities  were   indeed great.  I saw  these  fields  by simply  obeying my  Lord, who  said: “Lift up  your  eyes, and  look  on  the  fields, that    they   are   already  white    unto  harvest.”   John 4:35  To look   is  to  obey  Christ- but   how  can  one look   and  not   be  stirred  by  that   which   is  seen!    In­ deed,   that is  the  reason,  surely,   that   our  Lord wants us  to  look.

I saw  the   fields. I  saw  the   need. I  didn’t  see the  means with   which   to  send  forth  laborers, except by faith; and  I didn’t  definitely see the  laborers.   But I  saw  a  passage  of  scripture that  said:    “The  harvest indeed is  plenteous,  but   the  laborers are  few.   Pray ye  therefore  the  Lord of  harvest  that   he  send   forth laborers into  his  harvest.”   Matt.  9:37,   38.    It was Christ’s passion   for  souls  that   led   Him   to  utter  this statement.   He  saw  the  multitudes, and   “was  moved with   compassion  for   them,   because    they   were   distressed   and   scattered,  as  sheep   not   having  a  shepherd.”   Matt. 9:36.     And   then   it  was,  in   the  spirit o£  deep   compassion,  that   the   Lord  asked   His  disciples   to   do   something  about  the   situation.    And sad   to  say,  the   very   thing  our   Lord  requested  his disciples  to  do -something that   every   child  of  God can   do – is  the  very   thing that   very  few  are  doing. Jesus   said:   “Pray”!    Pray   for   laborers.    Pray    the, Lord   of  harvest  to  send   forth  laborers into  his  har­vest.     But   I’ve   been   hearing  the   prayers  of   many brethren- godly    men,  too- and    seldom  hear    any such   petition as  this.    And   I find  myself   to  be  num­bered   among  the  guilty.   A  sermon  on   this  subject usually   will  stir  brethren to  pray   this  petition a  few times,  while   the  message  is still   fresh   in   their  mem­ories;  but  soon   the  fires  of  enthusiasm die  away,  and we  again walk  in  disobedience along  this  line.

But  as  I looked on  the  field,  and   as  I was  stirred to  renewed knowledge of  the  need   to  pray  for  labor­ers,  I  noted  another  passage   of  scripture  that  said: “Whosoever  shall   call   upon  the   name  of   the   Lord shall   be  saved.     How   then   shall they  call  upon  him in   whom   they   have   not   believed. And   how   shall they   believe    in   him   whom    they   have    not    heard? and   how   shall   they   hear   without  a   preacher? and how  shall   they  preach except   they  be  sent?  even  as  it is  written, How   beautiful  are   the  feet   of  them   that bring  glad   tidings  of  good   things!”Now,   In ever did  think that  feet  were  particularly  beautiful  things   here   God   speaks   of  beautiful feet.     But   they are   beautiful  because   they   take   preachers  to   places where  God   would   have   them   to  go  with   a  beautiful message.      My!   how   we,   the   preachers,   need    those beautiful  feet!     And    we   can   have    them,    whether physically   beautiful or  not,   if  only   there will   be  an awakening on  our  part   in  this  matter of  taking “glad tidings of  good   things” to  those  who  know   not   God. I recently picked   up  a  book  containing a  description of   the   zeal   and   sacrifice   of   those   who   led   in   the movement  that   we   are   now   engaged  in- a   move­ment   that   may  be  starting over  again,   more   or  less. But  I  read   that   preachers  everywhere left   the  places of  ease,  turned  down   the  good   paying pulpits,  and struck  out,   taking  with   them   no  gold,   or  silver,   or brass   in   their   purses;   no   wallet,   neither  two  coats etc.- but   they  proceeded  on   the  basis  of  faith,  and that . “the laborer is worthy   of  his  food.”     And  many of  them  went  hungry.   But  they  had  beautiful feet  – feet  that  led  them  into the  rough country, to  preach  in  school   houses   and   abandoned  buildings  wherever they  could  find  such,  and   thus  the  message  of  Christ an d  simple  New   Testament  Christianity  was  heard far  and  near,  and  rapidly spread.

So,  we need,  as  preachers, to  be stirred to  get  out and   preach   the  glad   tidings.   Two   things   are  espe­cially   noticeable  in   the   passage  in   Romans.    Hear­ing,  by which  faith  comes,    1. depends upon a preach­er,  and   2,  upon the  sending of  the  preachers.    And it  is with   that   conviction filling  my  heart that   I felt led  not  only  to  pray  the  Lord  of harvest  to send  forth laborers; but   I  felt   that  faith   would   prepare to  send them  forth, even   before   the  laborers  were  definitely in  view.    And  on  that   basis,  viewed  by  good  preach­ing   brethren  with    different   reactions,   the   cooper­ative  Home Mission. Fund came  into  existence.  And suffice it  to  say:  Places  to  use  the  money  to good  ad­ vantage on   the  home   mission   field  have  never   been lacking, and  laborers have  been  raised  up!

Perhaps this  thought arises:   “The Gospel   has  al­ready   been   preached  in   Jerusalem – the   home   field has  had  its  opportunity.   We need  not  be  reminded to  stay  in  Jerusalem, or   to  go  back   there;  we  need to  be  asked  to  get  out, and  go  into all  of  the  world. We   need   to  emphasize  foreign  missions,    not   home missions.”     Well,    if   this   principle- “beginning   at .Jerusalem” -is properly  understood  and   applied, it contains  the   solution  to   the   problem  of   preaching the  Gospel   to  the   whole   creation.     If the   principle laid   down by  our   Lord when  He  said:   “And that re­pentance  and   remission. of  sins   should  be   preached in   his   name   unto  all   the   nations,   beginning  from Jerusalem,”    had been strictly   adheredto, the work  of  Gospel  preaching in  the  whole   world would have   benefited.      It  is   the   firm   conviction   of   your speaker  that  the  statement,  “beginning  from  Jerusa­lem,”  contains  a  principle that   even  now,  after  2,ooo years,” is applicable. I  am  confident  that  it  was  this principle   that   the   committee  had    in   mind   when they  assigned  this   topic  to  me.

Indeed,  all   of  you would  be  very  much surprised if I should make a  lit­eral  application of   the   expression, “beginning  from Jerusalem,” and  ask  you   brethren  to  drop  the work that  you are  now  doing, and  move  back  to Jerusalem! That  city   needs    the   gospel,    indeed! – but no   one thinks  of   this   topic  as  suggesting  the   thought  that all   Gospel  preachers  everywhere   leave   their  present assignments, and   go  to  Jerusalem.   But   if  we  accept t he  principle contained  in  the  topic  of  this  discourse, and  make application  thereof, we  will   thereby   con­ tribute  toward the   very  purpose stated  by  our   Lord, namely, “that repentance and  remission of sins  should be preached in  his  name unto all the  nations.”  Luke 24:47·

So  to  those  who make   the  plea  that our   emphasis should be  on  foreign missions,   let  me  suggest   that   if the  home field   were   properly  developed  our   foreign activities would be  increased.  The  fact  of  the  matter is:  We   are  here in  America.   We  are  not   in  Africa, or  Japan, or  China. We  are here!   Maybe   a  few a­mong us will  go  to a foreign field,  but  most  of us have not  felt  led  of  God   to go.    And  since  we  are  here,  in America, we have  a responsibility. To insist  on  more activity on  the  foreign field  is well  and   good;   but   to merely   preach  this   while   inactive  and   unconcerned toward  the   development  of  our   own   field   of  labor is not  right. It is not  enough  to  preach more  or  less professionally, and   then,   to  ease  our   consciences  just a  bit,  preach an   occasional  sermon  on   foreign  mis­sions.     We  may   even   be  influential  enough  to  per­suade  the  brethren with  whom   we labor to  send  $ 10 or  more  per  month to a missionary.   But  if  with   that we  are   content  that   we  have   done  our   duty   in   the matter of mission work,  while   the  home field  remains undeveloped,  we  a.re  sadly   mistaken!

‘We  have   no more   taken  care   of  our   responsibilities  with   such   a procedure than did  Pilate eliminate his  guilt by  wash­ing  his  hands!    The fact  is:  We’re still   here,   in  our “Jerusalem.”    Jesus    says:   “beginning  from    Jerusalem­.”  The  word   “beginning”  carries with   it  an  im­plication  we   need   to   notice.      To  say   “beginning” from   Jerusalem  implies  a   preaching  locally,  to   be sure;   but  it  also  implies that  there  comes  a  time  when we go out  into our  “Judea and  Samaria.”

Let’s  get  down to some  facts- some  practical illustrations. Something like  8 years  ago   I  moved  to Johnson City,   to  labor with   the  Locust St.  church of Christ,  where E.  H.  Hoover had   done  such   a  great work.     Naturally, I have  felt,   and   still   do  feel,  that I have   some  definite obligations  in  connection  with the  Locust Street church.   But   more than  that, I re­gard Johnson  City   and   the   Locust   Street  church  as my   “Jerusalem”- as   simply  a   starting  point,  or   a radiating  point, for   the   proclamation  of  the   Gospel to  the  entire area.    A few  years  ago  a friend of mine, an d  brother in  Christ, wrote me  a letter, in  which   he stated that   he  felt  that   the  work  of  located  minister was  unscriptural.             My  reply   was:  “It  depends upon the   type  of  work   the  located minister  does.”        If the located  minister  is  willing to  draw   his  “salary,” and be   merely   a  “hired  servant” who   can   preach  only within the  four   walls  of  the  church  that   pays  the  sal­ary,  I’m  frank in  saying   that  such  a  ministry at  least borders on  being unscriptural.   But   that   if  the  minister  uses  his  home  congregation – the  one   that   “em­ploys”  him  – as   a  base   from  which    to   preach  the Gospel,  and  from  that  radiating point, goes forth as a leader  to  develop  the  field,   then   that   is  an  entirely different  matter.

So  with    this   latter  viewpoint  in mind,  we  have   constantly  prayed  and  watched  for openings. We    have    entered   into    “open   doors.., Some  have  seemingly amounted  to  but little so far  as definite work  is concerned; but others have  been  more encouraging.

The  troublesome and    discouraging brotherhood issues have  been  ours  to deal  with  in  upper  East  Ten­nessee.    Soon  after  going to  Johnson City,   the  issue had  to  be  me t and  dealt with  locally; and   the  one  0r two  open doors  outside of  Johnson City  were  tightly closed.     But   God   has  told   us  that  “the field  is  the world   and  therefore we  could   not  let  these  discouraging developments provoke us  to give  up.

We soon secured a  weekly radio program- an  important  way of  doing what   God  has  said  do,  namely, “preach the Gospel to  every  creature!”   We  prayed and   watched for   other  openings,  and    soon  we   were   privileged to  conduct  Bible   classes  in   the   Carter-Sell  addition, where   Bro.  Hoover ha d  clone similar  work.     In   that common unity were  a few  members of  the  Locust   Street church;  and   soon,   God   blessed   us  with   the  favor   of the  community as  a  whole,   which   eventually,  by the grace   of   God,   led   to   the   building  of   a   basement church   building, and   the  starting of  another  congre­gation.   But   let   us  bear   in   mind  that   all   this   was du e  to  a  small   congregation’s  unselfish   spirit  of  cooperation in  which  the  loyal preacher had  to  take  the lead!           The  Locust Street  church  was  only   a  small congregation,   undergoing  unmerciful  persecution  by some  opposing  forces.    Could she  afford  to  spare   a­ bout   20   people  (counting children) as  a  nucleus  to start a  new  work,  especially   when it  could   be  argued that   the  people   in   the  Carter-Sell addition  could,  if sufficiently    interested,  drive    into  Johnson  City    to worship?            Humanly   speaking,    the    answer    would likely  have  been,  “no”; and  right there  is where  home mission. work  has  bogged  down!   Selfishness  and  faith­lessness, characteristics of  the  natural man,   take  hold, and   usually  win   the  victory.    And  too  many   times, the   preacher  is  the  leader!    The need   and   opportunity­  of  starting a  new  work  is seen – but   we  do  not want to  diminish  the  original congregation in order to  start a  new  work!  The  spirit of  sacrifice  is  lack­ing,  and  faith is weak.    No  doubt, we  had  some  who felt  like   that;  but   significantly enough,  God   seemed to  immediately show  His   hand of  favor   upon us  in the  new  endeavor:  the  very  first  Sunday that   we met in  the  Carter-Sell addition,  more  people were  present for  Sunday School   at  the  Locust   Street church  than usual,   and   in  addition  to  the  few we  used   as  a  nu­cleus,  we  gained another 20!

But  let  me  get  down   to  the  main point I  have  in mind, namely, that   proper development of  the  home field  intensifies world-wide missions,   rather  than hin­ders.     Notice  that    I   said,   “PROPER  development of  the  home   field.”   Again,   I use  the   local   field  of  labor that  God  has  given  me  as an  example, because I  know   about  this  field  better  than  others;  and   be­ cause   I have   seen   this   truth  demonstrated  in   our midst.   About 8 years  ago  when  I moved   to  John­ ion   City,  so  far  as  I  know,   not   a  dime   was  going  to “foreign”  mission work,   or   to  mission   work   in   any outside  area.     Today,  about  $5o.oo   or   $6o.oo   goes monthly.  The  Locust Street   church has  been   giving to   home   mission    work     (La.   and   Fla.)   for   several years,  and  recently adopted  the  policy  of  giving 10%  of  total   offerings   to  mission   work,   which   includes  a monthly gift  to  Africa    (Vernon  Lawyer).     But   more than that,   the  new  congregation, with   an  unfinished church building, also  gives  10 % of  total   offerings  to mission   work,   the   whole   amount  going    to  Vernon Lawyer   in  Africa.   So  my  point is:  If we  will  begin, each  of us, in  our  own  Jerusalem, and  preach the  gos­pel  right  there,   and   then   on  out   to  outlying area , if the    churches   are    properly   taught    from     the beginning, we  are  increasing the  very  thing that   we have  in  mind: the  work  throughout the  whole. world! Recently I read  of  a  church  that   was  about  to  completely  die.     Someone   suggested  that   this  congrega­tion  take  an  interest in  the  Lord’s work  outside of  its own   four-walls.  The  brethren  accepted the   sugges­tion ,  agreed to  spend 10% of  total offerings on  such work,   and   soon   this   dying church  came   to  life,   and was,  in  the  process  of  personal revival, spreading  the gospel  to other points!

Frankly,  I’m   afraid   we  preachers  are   guilty, per­ haps  unconsciously, of  too  much   professionalism.  We are   satisfied   to  preach  within  the   four-walls  of   the building  in   which    worships   the   congregation   that employs  us,   and    not    properly  concerned  with  our Judea, and   Samaria. If we  can   be  awakened  to  an interest in  our  own  Judea and  Samaria, then   we  will be  well  on   the   road  to  “the  uttermost parts of  the earth.”  But  not  only  do  I fear  that  we lack  proper in­terest   in  developing  the  areas   in   which   we  labor,  I also  fear  that when we do establish new  congregation;; we  are   guilty of  molding the  characters,  and   dispo­sitions  and   attitudes of  said  congregations much   like many   modern parents raise  their   children.    We  spoil and  pamper them along, taking the  position  that   the work   is  new,   few   in   number,  and   weak   financially. Then  having taken   that  position, we agree  with  them that   they  need  all  they  can  raise,  and  more   too,  right at home.     So  these  new  congregations begin   with   the spirit of selfishness, and  then   never  get  over  it!  When they  have  grown and   developed, we  then  proceed  to preach strong sermons on   the  importance of  sending forth workers, and  find   that  our  efforts seem  in  vain. We  discover the  truth of  the  old  saying, “It’s hard to teach  an  old  dog  new  tricks.”  The writer of Proverbs s: .id:  “Train  up   a  child  in   the   way   he   should  go. and  even  when  he  is old  he  will  not  depart from  it.” The same   thing  applies  to  churches:  “Train   up   a church in  the  way  it  should go,  and  even  when i t  is old  it  will  not  depart from it!”

One  complaint I’ve  heard, and  worthy  of consider­ation, is  that   in too  many instances we’ve  regarded mission    points  on   the   home   field   as  mere   experi­mental stations- as  points  to  develop  the   in experi­enced   preachers.   Just  a  moment  of  thought  shows the   fallacy   of  such   a  procedure.  To  be  sure,   inex­perienced workers   can  be  used,  as  helpers and  assist­ ants; but   mission   points most  certainly  ought  to  be under the  direction. of  experienced, Spirit..filled   serv­ants  of  the  Lord.   Such  points usually   consist,  in  the main, of folk  who  are  weak   (although a very  faithful few  may  form   the  nucleus),  and   the  field  is  usually most ,  difficult.     If more  of  our   experienced preachers would give  attention to  the  mission   points,   and   per­sonally take  the  lead,  instead of regarding such  points as  mere   training  points  for   inexperienced   workers, our    mission    points   might   develop  more    rapidly. The older, more  fully  developed congregations would surely  suffer  less with  the  inexperienced workers   than would  the  mission   points.

So,  in  conclusion, let  me  say  again: “The  field  is the  world.”   To emphasize foreign fields  is good  and proper.   But    when    such    becomes    nothing  but    a screen   behind which   to  hide,   our   position is  danger­ous.    And   we  can  make  some  sad  mistakes.   Here  is a  case  in   point:  Recently a  congregation  discontin­ued  a monthly sum  that was going  to a home  mission worker  in  favor   of  another   man   on   a  foreign  field. Certainly,  your   speaker  does   not   object   to  supporting the  worker on  the  foreign field.    The fact  of  the matter is, your  speaker has  been  used  of  God  to  raise between $3o.oo  and   $4o.oo   per   month  for   this   very same  foreign mission   worker!   But   the  point is:  We did   not   cut   out   a  local   mission worker’s support, and   divert  said   support  to   a  foreign worker!

To “rob Peter   to  pay  Paul” is  not  a  very  workable plan. We  simply   decided to  give  additional support  to  the foreign worker.   In   the  case  that   I am  referring   to, a  married man,  working on  a  difficult  mission field, living on   about $10.00   per   month   (and   living  in a  trailer in  order to  make   that   possible), suffered  the loss  of  a  monthly  sum   in   order  that  another  man, already receiving more  than   the   local   worker,   (and sometimes doubling  and   tripling it)  might have  said sum.  The  decision, so  far  as your  speaker  could  de­termine, was  unwise.         Yes,  we  must   support  mission workers on  foreign fields – and   to  that   end  let  us  all work.    But  if we do  not  develop Judea and  Samaria, we are  just  as unscriptural as  those  who  do  that only; and  if we fail  to properly develop Judea and  Samaria, we are  improperly interested in  the  souls  of men,  and we  have   neglected our   most   effective   method of  en­larging our   ability  to  send   forth  the   gospel   to   the uttermost parts  of  the  earth.   Let  those  of  us who  re­main on  the  home field  feel  our   responsibility more keenly  toward developing it.

 

Bro. Robert Boyd was a well-known preacher and speaker in the Premillenial Churches of Christ for many, many years before his homegoing..

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33