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NEWS FLASHES ….

The first Protestant Reformed Church in Canada will have been organized, the Lord willing, in Hamilton, Ontario, on the evening of April 19. The entire Mission Committee planned to be present on this notable occasion and we expect a detailed account of the event to be forthcoming.—The Rev. A. Cammenga has returned from a four-week stay of labor in Canada. Rev. Knott, who had supplied the pulpit at Hull, Iowa during their pastor’s absence, has returned to Grand Rapids with his family.—The First Church in Grand Rapids has been very gracious and generous in cooperating with the work in Canada. Following Rev. Cammenga’s return, Rev. De Wolf spent two weeks in Canada and at present Rev. C. Hanko is laboring there for a period of four weeks.—The Rev. J. De Jong, of our Creston Church in Grand Rapids, is looking forward to a trip to the Netherlands. He plans to sail from New York on May 20, the Lord willing, and will return sometime in August. Most of his relatives, whom he greatly desires to see, are still living in the Netherlands. May he experience a prosperous journey with the Lord’s blessing.—We extend our sincere Christian sympathy to the Rev. and Mrs. J. Howerzyl. Mrs. Howerzyl’s father died recently following a lingering illness, It came at an especially difficult time since in order to attend the funeral it was necessary that Rev. Howerzyl be absent from his congregation on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Through cooperation of his own consistory at Oskaloosa and the Rev. M. Gritters of Pella, the necessary arrangements were made that they could attend the funeral in Michigan. May the Lord comfort them with His grace.—The work continues slowly here in the far north-west with regular services twice each Sunday in Sumas and occasional week-day meetings on the special days we celebrate at this time of year. We expect to return to Grand Rapids the latter part of this month to confer with the Mission Committee and attend the sessions of Synod.

Earthquake ….

We have often read and sung the words of Psalm 46 and thought about them. Especially the phrase: “we will not fear tho’ earth be moved. . . . although the mountains quake and earth’s foundations shake”. Now on April 13 we experienced this mighty speech of God, when a comparatively severe shock moved the earth’s foundations and caused the mountains to quake in this area of the Northwest. Although there was no damage in this immediate vicinity, it was distinctly felt while the tremors lasted almost a complete minute. Perhaps, that doesn’t seem like a very long period, but just sit still for one minute and watch the second hand move around the face of the clock while you imagine that everything is shaking and moving and trembling!

The strange thing about an earthquake is, that one seems to sense and know immediately that it is an earthquake. We were just seated for our noon meal and about to ask a blessing when the shaking began. Both my wife and I looked at each other, and said: “Earthquake”!, and then sat speechless for several seconds feeling the movement of all things, hearing the windows and doors rattle and watching the blinds and other articles swing and sway. That it was of some duration, is evidenced by the fact that we were able to get up and walk out of doors and still feel perceptible movement when we had reached the back porch. It is truly a soul-stirring experience when the so-solid seeming earth begins to roll and heave. One begins to realize a bit of the expression of the psalmist’s faith when he proclaims: God is our refuge and strength!

It is striking how quickly man begins to “shout” in answer to a mighty speech of God. About 5 or 10 minutes after it had occurred the radio was already giving a rather detailed account. (It is interesting that a Canadian station was the first to have rather accurate news, almost while the quake was still in progress. It seemed that the American stations in the vicinity, had paused to catch their breath and consequently were 10 and 15 minutes later with reports). But all that afternoon and evening men were busy “shouting” about the work of God. “Expert” opinions were offered and “scientific explanations” were given, “great” men and “’professors” were interviewed to “tell all about it”. But not once did we hear God mentioned. And while the reports of casualties and damage were being broadcast announcers were urging the populace to remain calm and go about as usual, while wild rumors of greater shocks to come, kept disturbing their “peace”. And yet, at the same time, all had to admit that no one could determine or predict when a quake would strike. When God speaks, mere men can only listen!

As always this speech of God too, is soon forgotten and goes unheeded. It remains for the few to proclaim: That Thy name is great Thy wondrous works declare!

Footnotes Of History ….

In the article dealing with Reformed Church life in Canada, by the Rev. P. De Koekoek, upon which we commented last time, we also read the following statement: “Neither our Christian Reformed leaders in Canada, nor our church membership in general, are wrapped up in disputations about the fine shadings of Reformed doctrine.” This, according to the writer, was supposed to account for the fusion of various elements into peaceful congregational harmony in the Christian Reformed Church in Canada. As we read it we wondered whether this is really as virtuous as it may appear. Compromise may bring organizational unity but it will never satisfy the Truth.

It also struck us again, that though in 1924 “fine shadings” (?) were used to depose office-bearers and cause a denominational split, now they are forgotten and happily neglected. For the sake of external growth and prosperity, perhaps? It also served to recall how quickly and conveniently the testimony and lessons of history are forgotten. As we read, our thoughts turned instinctively to the Fathers of Dordt and the great Synod of 1618-19. To establish the exact color of distinctive Reformed Truth these Fathers formulated 59 articles clearly positing the Truth over against “fine shadings” of Arminian error. And that no question might remain as to their precise meaning they added 54 more articles rejecting the many subtle errors of these Remonstrants. A Church which is called Reformed should appreciate, rather than disparage, exactions of the Truth.

Another instance of this same convenient disregard and forgetfulness of one’s own history comes to mind. Leaders in the Christian Reformed Church have often said of us as Churches (and we have also heard that same charge here again) that we do not do mission work; in fact, that we “do not believe” in foreign mission activity. It is not our purpose now to refute these statements and point out their untruth but rather to recall again a bit of history. It is well that we know these things and bring them to the attention of those who so charge us.

The history of the Christian Reformed Church reveals that it was not until almost 25 years after their separate existence as a denomination that any official missionary activity was pursued or that an official and regular Home Mission Committee was appointed. Further, it was not until 6 years later than this, or almost 30 years after their organization, that any regularity was established in this work by the Christian Reformed Church. And during that period that Church was almost twice as large as our present denomination. It is true, that during the intervening years various ministers went out from time to time, much as our own men have done in our early years. Strikingly, these early Christian Reformed ministers also labored among those closest to them in the Reformed Churches, and also among newly arrived immigrants from the Netherlands.

We learn further, that it was not until 1920 that the first foreign field was opened by the Christian Reformed denomination. At that time, by way of comparison, these Churches were already 53 years old and numbered 245 congregations of almost 100,000 souls. Sometimes these little vignettes of history are interesting and instructive. The factual details for the above are from “The Christian Reformed Church”, a history, written by the late Dr. H. Beets.