Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 22, 1951
NUMBER 29, PAGE 4-5a

Support For Gospel Preachers


Readers of this journal know that through the past months we have had several things to say relative to certain "trends" or dangers which seemed to us to be developing in the matter of foreign evangelism. We have offered our criticism and suggestions with no thought or desire at all to discourage the spread of the gospel into all the world, but rather with the hope of heading off and preventing disastrous apostasies from the truth. We rejoice, as does every Christian, every time a single soul, be he German, Jew, Eskimo, or Ethiopian, is baptized into Christ.

One feature of the work in foreign countries which we have approved, and for which all of us ought to be grateful, is that those who are going are being much more adequately supported than was the case a score of years ago. The churches are not altogether responsible for this improvement, however; it is partly due to the fact that our government has demanded a certain degree of financial responsibility and security before the issuance of visas and passports. But to that as it may, we are happy for those who are going into these distant fields to receive the support they are getting. It is right that they should receive it. While there have possibly been a few who were "glamour-struck" at the idea of working in a foreign field, the editor does not personally share in the criticism that has been offered on that score. Having a personal acquaintance with many, if not most, of those now laboring in foreign fields, we believe them to be on the whole above the average in consecration and devotion. It is not easy to work in a strange land and among strange people;

no amount of "glamour" can compensate for the loneliness, the deprivation of comforts and conveniences (which most of us over here would list as "necessities"), and the disappointments and discouragements which are bound to come. Adequate financial compensation surely seems the very least that should be done for those who go.

But while the situation in respect to "foreign" work has improved considerably as regards support, we are sorry that the same cannot be said as regards the work in the hard and difficult places of our own nation. There are scores of devout and sacrificing gospel preachers now working in hard and difficult fields of our nation and Canada who are simply living on a shoe-string. The following paragraph from a letter we received from brother Albert Smith of McMinnville, Oregon, will give you an idea of what we mean:

"We are now in our ninth year in the Northwest. The need here is great. (Of the forty-five or forty-six congregations of the entire state (Oregon) only two, perhaps three, have a membership of as many as two hundred; the others range from a dozen to sixty or seventy. The majority of the preachers who have come and gone, and who still remain. have had to supplement their support by working at various jobs. It is my conviction that there is enough wealth in the church to provide abundant support for every man in fields such as this. The one discouraging thing of our three months' visit to Texas and New Mexico the past summer was in the fact that outside of one congregation (Snyder, Texas, which has supported us the past eight years), we were unable to interest anybody in this field. McMinnville is a town of 7,000 people, with a Baptist college having an enrollment of about 500. We have a fairly adequate building, free of debt, and eighteen members. Of our $170.00 a month support they provide $65.00 each month, and will do more as soon as the church catches up on a few past due bills. For a family of four, $170.00 a month is not what most preachers would consider an adequate support in these days."

The letter is typical of many. These men in the difficult places of our own nation, Northeast, Northwest, and Far West specifically, love the cause of Christ. They too, like the workers in foreign fields, have for the most part left homes and loved ones behind to go into these areas. They are working part-time with their hands to provide a living so that they will not have to leave these places.

They are neither ashamed nor unwilling to do these tasks. Many of them have gone into these places like Paul of old with absolutely no support and no promise of any. That is the spirit we rejoice to see—that is the kind of person deserving of help. It is by that kind of spirit that churches have been built up and people baptized into Christ in hundreds of towns and villages throughout our nation. These preachers need support sufficient to enable them to give all their time to the work they are trying to do, rather than having to spend a good portion of it in providing food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their dependents. Paul did not habitually build tents and do his preaching "on the side"; preaching was the primary work of his life, and when he could dispense with the tent-building and give all his time to preaching, he did so.

There are scores (probably thousands) of congregations who could "send once and again" to the support of these hard-working, self-sacrificing, under-paid brethren. Such support would enable them to do far more for the cause than they are able to accomplish now. How many who read these lines would want to try to support four people, pay house rent, operate a car, pay utility bills, buy clothes etc., etc., on $170.00 a month? That would have been a small enough support fifteen years ago; but in 1951, with present inflated prices, it is simply an impossible figure. And brother Smith is not alone or unique in this situation. Think it over.

Let the workers in foreign fields be adequately supported; they should be. But let not those at home he forgotten either.

— F.Y.T.