Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 18, 1968
NUMBER 49, PAGE 10b-11a

Set Them Forward On Their Journey

Sewell Hall

Recently a very conscientious elder of one of our fine Alabama churches raised a question as to the wisdom of using the church's money to buy tickets for evangelists to return home from foreign lands. We can all see the problem: Could the church not better use its funds to support a man who is staying than to help bring home another one?

Perhaps the quickest way to get at this question is to imagine ourselves five to ten thousand miles from home, having spent some years in service to the Lord — in a strange land, separated from family, struggling with babes in Christ - — in perils among the heathen and often among false brethren — having no funds accumulated because of having scarcely enough support over the years of service. Would we then be able to justify brethren in helping such an one to return? "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them." But there are other things to think about.

Practical Considerations

If a congregation sends a preacher for a two week "mission meeting" to another state, they understand it is also their responsibility to bring him home. We know of no scripture to indicate that the Lord expects any man to leave his homeland to be a permanent resident of a foreign land. Money spent returning a foreign evangelist is as much support of his preaching as money spent to send him or to sustain him while there.

Of course, there is the problem of men returning prematurely. Doubtless there have been instances of this. But many things can dictate a period of time. In some countries like Nigeria, climate is inhospitable. A third year there is less effective than a second"; and a fourth year is almost wasted. Sometimes unforeseeable personal problems make an early return advisable. Men in government service and business employment seldom even plan to remain overseas more than eighteen months to two years. Ye are scarcely in position to criticize a brother who comes home after a reasonable period of service if we ourselves have never even left in the first place.

There are other good reasons for a periodical return home. The evangelist and his family need personal association and fellowship of strong brethren because they have been dependent entirely on correspondence and periodicals for their information.

Furthermore, the churches need first-hand living reports from the field. They make the work more real. By such reports interest in foreign work is increased, liberal contributions are encouraged, and gospel preachers are stimulated to enter foreign work. Young people are challenged to prepare themselves for such work. All in all, the church profits.

Scriptural Precedent

Paul apparently realized the value of regular visits home. His first journey lasted no more than four years and possibly less. The second ended with three. In Ephesus a door seemed open — interested persons begging him to remain, but his eagerness to return to Jerusalem (A. V.) and Antioch hastened him away. The third journey lasted five years.

Little as you think about it, these journeys were dangerous. Reasons for making them must have seemed indeed compelling. And they were expensive. Who financed them? The brethren along the way must have supplied what Paul did not have for the purpose. If their money was well-spent for such a purpose, so is ours.

Specific Examples

Since planning this article, we have learned of Brother Wayne Sullivan's need for funds to provide passage for himself and his family to return home from South Africa. They need $700 by the end of March. When they leave they will have been gone for four years. They have done a fine work, first in Port Elizabeth and then in Pretoria. Those who have worked with them bear testimony to their faithfulness. They deserve to spend the closing months of their labors free of financial worries. We pray that through the liberality of His people, God will supply their needs. Sullivan's address is 14 Bruarfoss Road, Valhalla, Pretoria, South Africa We understand that Brother Ray Votaw is needing travel funds for his return to the States. Someone will need funds to replace James Gay and possibly Leslie Dieselkamp in Nigeria this summer. Others will be constantly coming and going, here and there.

"Beloved, thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever thou doest toward them that are brethren and strangers withal...whom thou wilt do well to set forward on their journey worthily of God... We therefore ought to welcome such, that we may be fellow-workers for the truth." III John 5,6,8.

109 French Way, Athens, Alabama