Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 3, 1951

Light From The Dark Continent

Waymon D. Miller. Johannesburg. South Africa

(Editor's Note: The following was received as a personal letter, but it deals with a public matter. Brethren must be careful not to let the premillennialism of some workers in Africa discourage them from supporting the faithful and loyal workers there. In fact, all the more reason is this for strengthening the hands of those who are dependable. Otherwise the premillennialists will gain the ascendancy, and the true church in the dark continent may be retarded for many years.)

Dear Brother Tant:

In response to brother J. C. Reed's letter in the Guardian of January 25, in which he "unclassified" us workers in South Africa as not being premillennialists, allow me to speak a few words. Why am I so long in responding? Well, maybe you've been told, it's a "fur" piece over to these parts, and as up-to-date as your journal is, it takes a month for us to get it, sometimes longer.

We appreciate brother Reed's making clear the fact that his indictment of work and workers on the "Dark Continent" has no relation to us here in the Union of South Africa. And this opens the door to some explanations that perhaps should have been made sooner, and some clarifications that ought to be made.

It has been my experience that any time anyone speaks of Africa, or any work anywhere on this continent, it seems automatic that all works and workers are at once thrown together. But this is not true, and this incorrect impression should be removed from the minds of brethren in America.

I guess there have been rumors of premillennialism coming from Africa for years, and with much justification.

Occasionally we here receive queries about certain workers in the Rhodesias, as though we were associated with them! But this is not so. There is no connection between us and the Rhodesian workers (faithful ones) but brotherly ties, and none whatever between us and the premillennialists there!

For those who have a proneness toward unearthly statistics, we cite the following, (and for those who have a distaste for them, we suggest you skip this paragraph): The African continent is four thousand miles long and nearly as wide, comprises 11,524,825 square miles, which is nearly four times the area of the United States. Hence, it is as unthoughtful to connect all works in Africa as it would be to associate the work in the Panama Canal Zone with that in Canada, or as to lump all the work in North Africa together. For those unthinking souls who do not realize it, Africa is a continent, not a country.

While our geography class is still convened (and awake, I hope!) I would also say that the Union of South Africa, so often shortened to "South Africa" does not refer to the southern section of this continent. South Africa is itself a country, 475,550 square miles in area, or about the size of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico combined.

Recently a good friend of ours confused the establishing of 158 congregations in Nigeria with our work in South Africa. Another apologized for him saying that he, the friend of the first part, thought Nigeria was a part of South Africa! This is some excuse for a Ph.D., isn't it? Nigeria is "just" 2,500 miles from South Africa, as the crow flies (though we have no crows here); and overland it is separated from us by four other countries!

Now, back to South Africa and the works closer here. It is as far from Johannesburg to the Southern Rhodesia border as from Dallas to Kansas City, as far from Johannesburg to Nhowe Mission (the closest one to us) as from Memphis to Miami, and as far from Johannesburg to Namwianga Mission in Northern Rhodesia (the fartherest from us) as from Little Rock to Toronto. So you see, brethren, there's not much proximity of relations in these works even from a physical point of view.

Since the issue has been raised, we readily and gladly want our brethren at home to know where we stand, if such is necessary. The workers in South Africa are Guy V. Caskey, Eldred Echols, John T. Hardin, Don Gardner, Martelle Petty, and the writer. A more loyal assemblage of workers cannot be found either in America or abroad, if. I can say this of these workers without appearing presumptuous while including myself in the list. Not one of these workers is a thirty-second cousin to a premillennialist, or any other brand of "ist!" Not only so, but may I go a step further by listing:

(1) All of us stand in one voice against the damnable doctrine of premillennialism.

(2) All of us stand in one voice against centralized control over "mission" work. We think it eminently unscriptural for one church to dictate and dominate a work of evangelization in any foreign locality. If this is not plain enough we can say more.

We say this because our names have been mentioned by brother Reed, exonerating us of premillennialism and premillennial sympathies which exist in other regions of Africa, and because we feel that brethren at home are entitled to know where we stand on either of these issues.

We also wanted brethren to understand how geography separates us from other sections and other works on this continent. But, brethren we forgive you for your lack of knowledge here, for before coming to Africa we didn't know the difference either!

We read the Guardian with avid interest. Keep whacking away, brethren, at any "ism" and error which would dare encroach upon the New Testament pattern. We're doing that in South Africa.

Fraternally yours, Waymon D. Miller