Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1951
NUMBER 47, PAGE 10-11a

It Can Be Done Without A "Sponsor"

Luther Blackmon, Rusk, Texas

About three months ago, Mack Kercheville sent to a number of people and churches, whom he thought might be interested, the following report:

"What Is This Change All About?"

This is the question that is being asked by quite a number recently. I would have preferred telling you from the beginning, but was persuaded against it by others until now: But I feel that it is unfair to you to withhold the information longer.

The breaking up of the Mexican mission and the termination of the Montana Street Church's supervision of this work was made at my personal request on the following grounds: (1) After a lot of study and meditation, I reached the conclusion that I could not defend nor justify by the scriptures the type of sponsoring of mission work that was being practiced here. (2) Aside from scriptural considerations, I came to the conclusion that it would be a decided practical advantage to this particular work to wean the Mexican brethren from depending on a lush mission fund and to make them feel more responsible for planning and carrying out their own program.

With these two considerations in mind I went to the elders of the Montana Street Church and asked them to help me solve the problem. Out of consideration, they worked out the change. This is absolutely all there is to the matter. There is no other issue, doctrinal, moral, or personal, involved. This fact is confirmed by correspondence sent out by the elders of the Montana Street Church to contributors to this work.

From now on I will be subject to the counsel of the church where I labor, just as any preacher is, and will, of course, be answerable to any church contributing to my support to prove my worthiness of their fellowship. I desire to go right on giving everything I am and have to preaching the gospel to the Spanish speaking people.

But the Mexican people are not able to support me. Your fellowship with me in this work will be greatly appreciated. You will receive monthly reports giving the name of every contributor, the amount contributed, and how used. Send your contributions to Mack Kercheville, 59 Luna Street, El Paso, Texas.

Brother Gutierrez And El Camino

Brother Gutierrez is the preacher in Juarez. His salary from the mission fund was $150.00 per month. One half of this has been promised, to be sent to him direct. We need some church or churches to promise the other half for 1951. We don't have a better worker in Mexico than brother Gutierrez.

El Camino is a monthly paper which was underwritten to the amount of $50.00 per month from the mission fund, so the subscription would not be so high that those who need it could not afford it. This gospel literature is one of the best instruments we have for carrying the gospel to the whole Spanish speaking world. This $50.00 per month expense would be a worthy project for some church. The need for help on both these matters begins now, THIS MONTH. For more information write me at your earliest convenience."

Change, Not Without Thought

I know that the decision reached by brother Kercheville, which brought about the above mentioned change, was not made rashly nor was it for any personal gain or glory. Neither was it made without consideration for the welfare of others involved and the Mexican work in General. I was in El Paso last August on vacation, and had a long talk with brother Kercheville about the Mexican work. (He and I have been close personal friends for many years.) He expressed deep concern even then as to the scripturalness of the arrangement under which the work was being done, and believed that changes should be made; but was determined to give the matter careful study before making any change at all. He went into the Mexican work at a personal sacrifice, and has continued it at a salary lower than he might have had elsewhere. He knew that when he requested the change there would likely be misunderstandings and more personal sacrifice; but, being a man of conviction, when once the matter was settled in his own mind, he had no alternative.

Some of the churches that had been supporting the Mexican work did drop out. Some dropped out without explanation. It is likely that some of these did not understand exactly what it was all about, and did not make investigation. Others let it be known that they were dropping out because of the change. The Broadway Church in Lubbock, for example, wrote brother Kercheville and asked why the change was being made. When he replied, setting forth his reasons (as in the above statement), they withdrew their support. It seems fairly obvious that they are sold on the idea that "mission" work must have a "sponsor," and are unwilling to send support to anybody who, like Paul in the New Testament, is working without such a "sponsor." Some brethren openly predicted that the Mexican work would fail if it was attempted on any such basis.

Present And Future

It will no doubt come as a shock to such as these to learn that the Mexican work has already gained about as much as it lost; other congregations, willing to work in, the pattern set by Philippi and other New Testament congregations, have become interested and have moved in to take the place of those congregations unwilling to support a work that is not "sponsored." It begins to look as if a new day might be dawning for the Mexican work. At any rate, the Mexican brethren will gain a needed lesson in self reliance. They will be building churches down there, and not establishing missions. Brother Kercheville told me recently that he was considerably encouraged by the great number of preachers and brethren generally who came to him at the Abilene lectureship and expressed enthusiastic approval of his work in getting the change worked out.

There are a lot of good solid brethren all over the country who have not been swept off their feet by the sentimental and sensational appeals that have characterized much of this "sponsoring" business. They are studying it for themselves, and will come up with the right answer. The autonomy of the local church can be safeguarded only by each congregation choosing its own field and sending its support to that field; such autonomy will certainly be destroyed when a dozen churches or a thousand churches begin to select one church to be agent for them in overseeing and directing the work in that field.

The Mexican work has never received the consideration that it merits from the Christians in this country. There are about 17 millions of people there whose souls are as precious in the sight of the Lord as those in any other country in the world. We have some good men in the persons of Mack Kercheville, John Wolfe, and others who are striving to carry the gospel to this benighted people. Why can we not help them in this? If you are interested, and do not know anything about the work, write brother Mack Kercheville, 59 Luna St., El Paso, Texas. He will be glad to give you full information, and put you in touch with some worthy Mexican gospel preacher who needs support. Some of the preachers in Mexico are receiving very, very little remuneration for their labors. They are doing the work at a tremendous sacrifice. Brother Kercheville needs another man to help with the work in El Paso. There are more Mexicans in El Paso than there are whites.

While we are seeking to head off some of the obviously wrong and unscriptural methods some of the brethren are pursuing, let us not forget that there is a RIGHT way to do the work; and we need to do it NOW.