(The following commentary was taken from The Pentecostal Testimony, now known as testimony, Volume 27, Number 2, originally published January 15, 1946. These writings are quoted directly of the author, then publication editor C. B. Smith, and reflect the writer’s views in the context of that time.)
This is the subject we have chosen to feature in this issue of the paper. From the beginning of our existence as an organization, we have had a missionary vision. It has not been pumped up but came spontaneously with the Latter Rain outpouring.
In apostolic times, the disciples were to be witnesses in an ever-widening circle – Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jerusalem was their home city. The Jewish high priest was indignant against Peter and John for preaching this Gospel. He said “Did not we (the Sanhedrin) straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” This was a good testimony to the faithfulness of the apostles and other early Christians.
Did you notice that Jesus said, “and all Judaea?” That was all the surrounding country, the whole province. It seems clear that every central church has a responsibility to the towns, villages and communities in which it lies. The great question is are we measuring up to this responsibility? We have no excuse to be self-satisfied because our church is prospering. Our responsibility does not end when we have sent in our missionary offering. God has called us to be witnesses and has told us where we must witness. Through our prayers and our gifts that witness can be upheld in the regions beyond, but what about “all Judaea”, - your neighbouring community?
We owe a great debt to those who sit in heathen darkness. That debt cannot be discharged until we have done everything possible to give them the light. Have you discharged your debt to those in the home constituency? Think it over and pray that God may enable you to clear your conscience for withholding the truth from those nearby, those to who you should have witnessed.
Home bases are necessary if we would continue to expand our testimony in foreign lands. The prospective missionaries will come from the local assembly. The funds to send forth and to sustain on the field these missionaries, must also come from the local assembly. Liberal contributions have been made by the larger assemblies, located in the cities of our Dominion. The work in the distant lands could not have been carried on with this support alone. The many smaller churches made their contributions, and by all working together something worthwhile has been accomplished.
Our work has reached a new era. Applications for missionary appointments to foreign fields are constantly coming to our Executive. If we would send them forth the new fields must be opened in the home land so that they can be supported. Pioneer work in Canada presents a challenge. Opportunity is now knocking at our door. Many places are waiting for the message. “Give ye them to eat.”
Our Great Need in Home Mission Work
What is our greatest need if we are to open new work in a more aggressive way? Immediately someone replies – “Money”. You cannot rent buildings, buy a piano, seats, hymnbooks, fuel and furnishings without money. That may be so, but we still contend that money is not the greatest need!
Our greatest need is vision! When our eyes have been opened to the realization that people all around us are lost and cannot be saved until we give them the Gospel, we are well on the road to victory. God can be trusted to supply the means for carrying out a heaven-sent vision.
Someone has said, “We do so many things ‘goat fashion’ – that is head first.” The proper approach is heart first. We cannot hope to successfully open new fields without first being burdened for them, and earnestly praying that God Himself will direct us into doors which He will open. It would be possible to spend thousands of dollars to put over a place of our own choosing, and yet have very little to show for the labour and money expended. Fields, that have been tried several times without success, have later been opened with ease when God’s time came and they were ripe for the message.
This business of opening new works cannot be approached in a cold matter of fact way. A vision of the need will lead to a deep concern and a burden of prayer for that particular city, town, or community to which God is directing you to hold meetings. Brainerd said, “I care not how or where I live, or what hardships I go through, so that I can but gain a few souls to Christ.” This was the spirit in which he went to the North American Indians and won so many of them to Christ.
In our last issue of the paper, under the title “Beginnings” it is stated that Brainerd was expelled from college because of his extreme enthusiasm for missions. Later a cobbler named Carey read of his work among the North American Indians. Carey caught a vision of the need which led him to India. Oh what results followed his ministry!
It is lovely to minister to great crowds. If that is God’s choice for you, Amen! Everyone does not have that calling. God may be leading you to smaller fields of service, even out of the way places. How are the people to be preached unless consecrated workers volunteer to this service?
Jesus did not say “Pray the Lord of the harvest for funds”, but He did say to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the LABOURERS are few; pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.”