"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.XI Pg.15
June 1942

A Letter To Timothy

James T. Amis

Dear Brother__________:

I received your communication of 22nd ult., requesting certain information regarding mission work in Missouri. There are some evangelistic efforts being sponsored by the churches in this state, and much more being carried on by individual efforts and sacrifices of consecrated preachers of the gospel. Yet, it must be admitted that the work is of small moment compared to the need and the opportunities. I fail to get much of a thrill out of your proposed book which is being sponsored by local preachers and others connected with the Abilene College. So far as opportunities for evangelistic work is concerned, everyone knows that there is not a neighborhood in this great country of ours that does not need a great work of Christian evangelism. Every village and hamlet, every country school house, every grove and park, offers an opportunity for a gospel preacher to save souls.

It seems to me that it would be a much more laudable work, and a much better expenditure of effort and money, to be preparing and distributing good gospel leaflets, tracts, pamphlets, etc., in advantageous localities, instead of spending time preparing a book of data that cannot possibly be of benefit to anyone. A description of the needs and efforts in one locality will almost fit any locality to which it might be applied. All any young Timothy needs to do to acquire a workable opportunity to preach is to just return to his own home town or rural vicinity, find a school house or a vacant building, and go to preaching. Or, if he prefers a new field, he can select his location anywhere in the United States, and find the cause crying for laborers. Your book cannot reveal anything new to any observant Christian.

You may be ready to plead that some arrangements for support must first be analyzed before launching out on such a venture. Of course, that is necessary. Paul did not overlook that phase of the work, but took with him a lucrative trade by which "his hands ministered to his necessities, and to them that went with him." He thus left an example that will appeal to every young evangelist who is not afraid to "endure hardships as a good soldier," but is determined to fulfill his mission as a minister of the word. Paul accepted assistance when it was forthcoming, but lack of it did not deter him from carrying on. Your book will be much like some of our government statistics that cost great sums of money and are of no profit to anyone, and read by a very few who have nothing better to do.

Any young preacher can go into a "destitute" place, earn his living for a time at secular work, preach a great deal, and in time he can build up congregations of Christians that, if he properly teaches them, will support him in neighboring fields. I can count approximately a dozen such preachers right here in Springfield who labor at their vocations, preach on Sundays and often at nights in nearby towns, and thus have opportunities built up for meetings during their vacations. I think of one, who is an auto mechanic, who preaches out of town every Sunday and Sunday night, driving home after night, sometimes forty miles, and gets back to his work Monday morning, none the worse for his trip. He held two meetings this summer of some three weeks each, in small towns 17 miles out, and baptized several people at each meeting. He worked ten hours a day every week day during these meetings. He supports a family of four, and does much charitable work, but does not lose sight of his being "debtor" to preach Christ's gospel.

Others do likewise, though none of them have quite equaled that one. It can be done, and is being done; not only here, but in many places. One hundred years ago, all the gospel preachers who were fighting for the old paths and the ancient order of things religious did that way. If they had not, there would have been no boasted "Restoration Movement." I know that Paul said that preachers should live of the gospel, but he showed in his own life to what extent they should permit themselves to be impeded by that order. Half a century ago, when I first knew and observed gospel preachers and was launching out in the work myself, if I mistake not, more than half the preachers of that time went out on their own initiative and gathered what they could in the way of support, and worked out the remainder themselves. Evangelistic work will continue to lag so long as young preachers are afraid to go depending upon the promises of God and their own strong arm.

The brotherhood in general, it seems, will not become enthused over mission work unless they can witness it. They cannot envision conditions outside the range of their immediate knowledge. Some will, of course, get the idea, but they are mostly the ones who are not able to do much financing. When Jesus called attention to "the white harvest fields," he was looking far beyond the Judean hills and the Jordan, beyond the Great Sea, the desert and the mountains of Lebanon, to the whole world; and well He knew that so long as time lasts the field will he white, right at your door. You need not spend time and money telling people where mission work may be found, but tell them to get into the work and "brighten the corner where you are." When the disciples were scattered abroad from Jerusalem, "they went everywhere preaching the word." No previous arrangements for support had been made, but they saw to it that they did not starve.

I am not in the least opposed to previous arrangements for support being made when possible, but I am objecting to the work being 'left undone because of uncertainty in that line. Many young preachers come forth from our Bible colleges with the idea of a soft job with a well-established church, where no hardships will be encountered, and where the pay checks are certain. That idea has done more to blight the spirit of evangelism than any one thing. The colleges may not intend to create such a spirit; in fact, I do not believe they do, but they have unwittingly brought it about. I am not a college fighter, for I sent one of my own boys to a Bible college, but the reaction from such schools has tended to support my statement. Most of those young preachers I have described as doing evangelistic work on their own, never attended a Bible college. They received secular education in secular schools and learned the Bible from the Bible.

I presume this will deprive me of that "honorable mention" in your book, which you mentioned in your letter, but I must forego that honor. I am not so much concerned over the winning of laurels. What I have written is intended as a missive of brotherly love, and I hope it may not be misconstrued as harsh or unjust. I am not inclined to be telling other Christians what they must do, and how they must carry on their part of the Lord's work, but when I am asked for information I feel it my privilege and prerogative to say what I think the occasion demands to be said.