Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 26, 1953

Reaching People For Christ

Floyd A. Decker, Shreveport, Louisiana

The word of the Lord is the greatest work in all of the world. To be able to take part and to have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in saving men and women, should be esteemed above all blessings. To preach the gospel and look after the less fortunate of the earth is the work of the Lord. If the church has any other duty other than this, and living in harmony with the will of Jesus Christ, I know nothing of it. The first century church emphasized taking care of the poor, and the Christians then were taught to sacrifice to see that that was done. I am sure that our efforts to win people to Christ would be more successful if we would put more time in on caring for the poor in our own communities rather than attempting to institutionalize such work as now seems to be the trend. By sending people away to some institution for their care we rob the people of the local community, where the church operates of the object lessons which they need. We are also missing the great blessing of our own personal service to such as come to need us. We come to depend on some "expert," paid worker, to do our work while we give a little money and no service — personal service, that is. It is that personal service rendered through love that will win souls for Christ. This is true whether we speak of a child or an adult. Brethren, we are too preoccupied with our own pleasures, as individuals, to render the proper personal loving care to those who need us.

How many of us ever go into homes, even of our own brethren in the Lord, render them a personal service? There are many who can not afford a nurse or a housekeeper when they are sick. There are many who get along fairly well normally, but sickness or other troubles come and they cannot afford even the proper foods. Well, some say, get a check from the church, hire a nurse, a housekeeper and buy food for them and professional services or them. This is all right when it is all right. There are times when professional services are needed and nothing else will do, we know this. But, give a few dollars and it is soon forgotten and at times little is accomplished in the direction we most desire. Who, though, will soon forget when we spend a sleepless night at the bedside of a sick brother or sister or others who need our help? In this we are blessed of God and our willing personal service puts us in a position to talk Christ to those we serve. I know that we are not to try to impress people with our goodness but if we are good in heart and render that service which the will of God demands, people will be properly impressed and glorify God who blesses them through us. Brethren are we talking up and teaching personal service as we should or are we leaving the impression by the lack of emphasis, that giving of money is all it takes and then we hire the rest done!

Reaching people for Christ through personal service was greatly emphasized in the New Testament. There is nothing like a godly example to soften hard hearts and break down prejudice. About the first thing we think of now is that when children and others get in dire need, ship them out of the community, give them ten dollars and get them out of town as quick as we can so they'll not bother us. Do you not believe that real Christianity would want to study the case and help according to the need and would regret them leaving town because then the opportunity for personal service would be denied. The limit of such service would be bounded by the needs (not wants) of the individual case and our love for doing good — yes, our love for God Himself.

With the above taken care of our preaching would become effective not only to those served but others who "behold your good works." It is a wonderful thing to preach the gospel by word of mouth — it becomes more wonderful when it is done in practice — both lip and life — this is God's way. Mass evangelism will never become obsolete. Even if we could train all members to be expert personal evangelists we would still have reason to preach to and teach the masses of the people. Radio is proving to be an excellent means of reaching men and women for Christ. Just how far reaching the effects of gospel preaching by radio we will never know, at least this side of that eternal day. I know of some good gospel preachers who first heard the gospel by radio. The fact that we are using every means at our command to reach people for Christ makes radio a useful tool. There is however, no substitute for personal contact. Radio, the press and other means of preaching are but supplements not substitutes for telling the story "publicly and from house to house."

We should rejoice in all means the brethren are using to proclaim the glad tidings and build people up in the "holy faith." The national programs are very fine as long as the gospel is faithfully proclaimed as it has been up to the present. It is my personal opinion that we make a mistake in sacrificing a locally controlled radio program in order to have a national program — especially so when it is run by transcription anyway.

The Herald of Truth radio program is doing an untold amount of good and reaching many thousands. I hope all of us will get behind that work more and more. Creswell Street church, in Shreveport, where I preach, is helping to support the program and I hope will continue to do so and I believe will continue its support as long as it is run as it is now. I think it deserves our fellowship. We must, however, watch that centralization does not develop into denominationalization. This would destroy the very purpose for which the program was begun. One thing, I think, objectionable on the Herald of Truth program, and many others, is the recorded prayer. I do not see any objection to the transcribed singing provided we look upon it as a demonstration of the fact that we can sing well without mechanical instruments. We cannot worship God through transcribed songs and prayer. Those who recorded the songs and prayer could, and no doubt did worship at the time they recorded — but they cannot after this, thirty minutes or thirty hours later play back the recording and worship thereby. Brethren, this thing requires mature thinking. The Chinese sometimes write their prayers on a paper windmill so that each time the wheel turns it is counted as a prayer. In a good strong wind these people could get a lot of praying taken care of without much trouble. This is like the man we heard about who wrote out his prayer and fastened it to the head of his bed and then all he had to do was lie down at night, point to the written prayer and say, "There she is Lord, read it for yourself." What is the difference between this and a recorded prayer? When the program first started I felt like bowing my head and praying with them but when I found that the praying took place a week ago I wonder if it had not already accomplished its purpose, and so I do not feel so reverent about it any more. Sounds to me like someone saying: "Here is a prayer I prayed a week ago, how do you like it?" The Herald of Truth program is not the only one doing this, if it were I would take it up direct with them for I love them for the good work they are doing. No, brethren, we cannot spiritually live on "canned" worship. Who was it that said: "I would as soon pray by machinery as to praise by machinery" Wesley? Spurgeon? Anyway we used to quote that and thought we had a point that stressed a truth. I still quote it, but when I quote this and insist that it would be as consistent to pray by machinery as to praise by machinery and then after advising others to tune in radio programs and learn the truth — and they come back to me and say, and they do say this very thing, "Well I notice you brethren have gone to praying by machinery, why not include the praise?" And all I can say is, like Amos 'n Andy: "Uh-wa, uh-wa."

Speaking of national programs, I wonder if we could not think of "The Gospel Hour" on XEG (1050 on the dial) as a national broadcast? That station certainly covers the nation. Brother V. E. Howard, evangelist of Greenville, Texas, conducts this program which is on the air each Sunday night at 9:30. I have known Brother Howard quite well for many years. I have always enjoyed hearing him in meetings and now especially do I enjoy him on XEG. He is, in my opinion, better on the radio than otherwise. He is certainly well qualified and I rejoice that his program is reaching at least forty states of the union as well as thousands of English speaking people in Mexico. This program is not a "send me a dollar" program or a "help me celebrate my birthday" program. I understand "The Gospel Hour" broadcast is getting upward of two hundred cards and letters a week. Requests for the sermons, questions concerning the Bible and other communications because of the broadcast. Too, the type of mail received--letters that show intelligence, cards written by people of ability to grasp things and express themselves. This means that many intelligent people are becoming interested in the plain simple Gospel of Christ, that they are tired of the denominationalism forced upon them. Thousands know that what they have is not in harmony with the word of God but do not know what to do about it. Brother Howard is reaching many of them, as is the Herald of Truth, and we are going to see great results if these programs are continued. Brother Howard is spending more in mailing out literature, answering questions by mail, and these general contact expenses than the station time costs him. I am glad those connected with The Herald of Truth want this and other work supported as well as their own (or our own). I could not respect them as I do if they did not have this attitude. So, let me urge all who are not supporting this work to begin now...I don't know how The Herald of Truth is coming along financially but I do know that the Gospel Hour needs more help. Brother Howard has put hundreds of dollars of his own into this work and asks nothing in return for his personal services. Let's support him. XEG is the most powerful radio station on the North American continent and it reaches millions of listeners and many are responding. Let us respond to their response. And again, brethren let us take down our Chinese prayer wheels. A prayer of the past will not suffice for the present.