Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1953
NUMBER 48, PAGE 1,3b

What Would You Have Done?

Dick Smith, Karlsruhe, Germany

After reading several letters written by me to a friend and brother which were later published in the Gospel Guardian, March 19, I realized that there are many things which I could have said in a more dignified and kindly manner. I have always criticized this failing in others and now see it clearly shown in myself. I regret this and hope to do better in the future. However, as far as the facts concerned and the statements made, I know of nothing in the letters published that needs any changing.

These were written as personal letters and not particularly with intent for publication. I must admit that at the time I wasn't in the best letter writing condition. I had just received a letter from those who had been supporting me, which bluntly requested me to return to the U. S. within thirty days if possible. No reason whatsoever was given. (A week later they gave as their reason my "position" with reference to the work at Frankfurt.") Since this letter arrived five weeks ago I have been unable to eat or sleep normally. "Sick" is hardly a fit term to describe the way I have felt. All during this time not knowing if we'd even still be here, we had to carry on with more than the normal schedule of work. An eight-day meeting accompanied by intensive visiting, sickness, death and funeral of a member here, several additions to the church. At this writing we still don't know for sure whether we'll be able to remain or not.

For a long time I had hoped to keep these differences out of the papers and confined to Germany. I told Brother Gatewood as much a short time ago. I had hoped that some of the cancer might be healed without everyone's attention being drawn to it. Up until this present time the church here in Karlsruhe doesn't know of my firm disapproval of the school or of this difficulty concerning our support. Till now I could see no good in telling them. Brother Gatewood didn't fully know my convictions until he asked me to hold a tent meeting for the Westend church in Frankfurt. Since then I have discussed these matters several times with him, at his request. A week ago, several brethren in Frankfurt, personal friends of mine who work with the school, asked me my convictions about the matter. I spent two hours telling them, at their request.

I have stated to others that I don't claim to be the defender of truth for all Germany. Up until now I have been comparatively silent about these matters, generally giving my position to those who ask. When I declined the tent meeting I had to give my honest convictions. That's how this all came to light. Perhaps I've been too silent for too long about these things. For my comparatively passive disapproval of what brethren 75 miles away from me are doing, I have been asked to leave my work as soon as possible with no view of returning. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE? Would you leave a young church, excellent possibilities for the saving of many other souls, and quietly go home? Three years hard preparation, learning the language and the people. Would you have thrown it all overboard to help cover up what you thought was some one else's digression? Try to put yourself in my place before you pass judgment too quickly.

What about the next person over here who disapproves of the preacher-school and other things at Frankfurt? Will he too be asked to leave his work and go home? Will brethren over here be encouraged to hide their convictions rather than give them a healthy airing? Is anyone "safe" anymore? It's my honest hope and deepest prayer that others will be able to profit by the very unpleasant experience that my wife and I have been and are being subjected to. Likewise I ask our friends who hear of this to patiently bear with us, realizing we are doing what we feel to be right and with the desire to please and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have always appreciated Brother Gatewood for his burning desire to save souls. At the time when I was in favor of it (the project as such) I appreciated the hard work he did in raising money for buildings over here. I told him so. He has been in our home, as has Brother Sherrod. I love both of these brethren and I see things in them I should certainly imitate. I am thankful for the kindnesses both have shown us before and after we came over here. These things are certainly not forgotten even though I now see dangers and trends involved that are bigger than any one of us.

For the generous giving and support on the part of the Grove Avenue brethren we are certainly very grateful. For practically three years they have backed us, supplying most of our support and doing much to tell others about our work. They have sent us gifts and lovely things for our baby as well as having been thoughtful in other ways. These kindnesses express the general attitude they have had during these our first years away from home and loved ones. We may never know the particulars of the sacrifices that have been made to keep us in our work here, but we'll always be grateful. On the other hand we're sorry that our relationship had to end this way and hope that the experience will turn into a blessing and a lesson for all of us. We personally are grateful for the additional truth we have learned and the opportunity to have a clear conscience about the way we are supported. We trust that the Lord will overrule in these matters to bring about the greatest possible good.

We have found many people here whom we find to be very receptive to the Truth. We feel keenly the responsibility for preaching Christ in this city, and our humble desire is to be permitted to continue doing just that.

I hardly think that having me leave Germany merely because I oppose the Frankfurt school (as well as other things which I regard as digressive) will solve anything. Truth and right need never fear honest examination. A healthy opposition will only serve to more firmly establish a basic truth or a method that is right. "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:21)

I have begun nothing new that is causing disturbance. Let it be known that the matters in question are not things which I have to defend. I'm having trouble enough defending my right to question what others are doing.

My fallible opinion is that it would be pleasing to God to do away with the school that seeks to function as a seminary for all Germany and to encourage churches everywhere to take up their own responsibilities in training young men and women. We need to forget about trying to get the job done in such a hurry and instead follow the simple New Testament pattern. We need to forget about trying to do everything so "big" and be satisfied with having the Gospel preached and congregations established. We need to encourage decentralization both here in Germany as well as in the States. Evangelists should endeavor to start as many "schools" as possible — churches of the Lord. These same churches can cooperate in doing the Lord's will yet in such a way as to preserve the sacred identity and autonomy of each one. Let's work toward this end.

...Dick Smith Vorholzstrasse 36 Karlsruhe, Germany