Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1949
NUMBER 12, PAGE 5b,6b

History - As It Might Have Been

L. C. Hampsten

It was about the year A. D. 44. The church at Antioch in Syria had become quite firmly established in the faith and finance, but up to this time had done little missionary work. Then it began to grow intensely missionary minded, and concluded to sponsor a mighty program to convert the world.

The Antioch elders soon worked out a stupendous plan which was to bring into one gigantic endeavor all the churches of Syria, Samaria, Judea, Arabia, Egypt, and Babylonia. The united efforts of all these churches were to be channeled through the church at Antioch. All collections, disbursements, and general supervision of the work to be under the oversight of the elders at Antioch.

First, it was thought practicable to appoint a "field missionary representative" to make a survey of Asia and Europe and report on the feasibility of the plan and make recommendations. A Silician Jew, named Paul was chosen for this job. He spent some years at the task and compiled volumes of data for the elders. A meeting of the church was called and all the ramifications of the plan discussed. A decision was reached to put into the project all the strength that could be mustered. Everything, of course, to be done by faith.

The next step was how to finance such a venture. A publicity committee was appointed who were skilled in sales promotion work. Beautiful brochures were printed hearing the pictures of the elders and Paul with a galaxy of preachers and their wives. Careful attention was given to the listing of the school backgrounds of the various preachers, with special note made of all those who had received their Doctor's degrees. A picture of Paul at the feet of the great Gamaliel (it was regretted that Gamaliel had never seen fit to adopt the faith) was given a prominent place.

Included with this was a schedule of the work program. A break-down of the various undertakings in order as they were to be launched. First, it was deemed proper to set up relief stations in the various cities, since the economic situation was very critical in that whole area. They reasoned that to feed a hungry man, he is more likely to listen to what you may say, and before he suspects the motive, you have him! This naturally was going to take a lot of supervisory work and a lot of donations.

Next on the agenda, was orphan homes. Legions volunteered for this good work and agreed to set up homes in almost every city where the gospel was to be preached, if sufficient money could be raised for all the proposed projects. Personnel was easy to enlist for there were many pious and grave men lacking in ability to preach, who were ideal for this kind of endeavor, and especially so when shown that the ox would not be muzzled.

Perhaps the major undertaking was the plan to found colleges at strategic points along the old Roman highway, at least as far west as Rome, to educate native preachers as they were being converted. In this connection, it was pointed out how great a success had been the world renowned school at Alexandria.

As part of the benevolent work, hospitals were to be built for the sick. Also an organization was to be founded to help women to adapt themselves to their new found freedom from slavery to their husbands.

This was truly a mighty and noble task they had cut out for themselves. From the strain many were sure to grow weary and worn, and finally break under the weight of it. So it was decided to purchase a rest camp or camps as the need arose. Here tired preachers and workers could retreat occasionally for rest and wholesome recreation. One such was purchased near Athens. In that balmy atmosphere later many thousands would gather to frolic, sing songs, preach, bathe, and take excursions to the Acropolis and other points of scenic grandeur and historic interest. Some of the knockers and chronic critics objected to this; but they were the ones who did not believe in missionary work and were priding themselves always on being "keepers of orthodoxy". It was recognized that the church had always been burdened with these shortsighted do-nothing objectors, so their criticisms were discounted from the very start.

Finally, in spite of opposition, the plan got under way; the schools were established; orphan homes were built; hungry people were fed; hospitals were erected; rest camps were opened, and the true preaching of the glorious gospel got under way. Once the work got to going in a good way, other problems arose; but one by one they were solved. Elders were sent out from the Antioch church to supervise the various activities in each mission, Finally, Paul was appointed special field representative over the whole.

This is now a matter of history. Millions were converted under this plan. For further and more detailed information concerning the "glorious success of this noble venture in faith, we suggest that our readers turn to the New Testament, particularly to the book of Acts. There they will find full accounts of the various mission stations, and how the work was carried on in each.