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Mr. Sugg was a member of the Trinity Protestant Reformed congregation.

Synod was informed of the disbanding of Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas.

This terse report was given in the summary of the activities of the PRC Synod 1998 recorded in the July 1998 Standard Bearer. It was a simple epitaph to 25 years of labor in the extension of God’s Word from an outpost more than a thousand miles removed from our churches’ well-established, flourishing congregations, schools, journals, and seminary. At different times during those years, nearly a score of families were a part of this congregation. In the end four families, including the pastor’s and one individual, remained for the final service, Sunday evening, June 7, 1998.

A seed planted by a Protestant Reformed missionary in the early 1960s sprouted a dozen years later, giving rise to a second work of evangelism which would extend for a quarter century. It was clearly God’s will that in that period a church be established and that five different ministers would lead the congregation in a vigorous witness of the Reformed faith, which is simply nothing but the truth, so help us God. It was His purpose, too, that these instituted labors would be brought to an end just now. We know that this was all in God’s foreordained counsel because this is what happened. What we don’t know is all the reasons and purposes which lay within that counsel.

At such a time of failure (failure according to men’s eyes, including our own) we cannot escape considering that the closing was, at least in part, God’s chastisement upon the weakness of our human efforts. Our efforts were weak, but the labors were honest, committed, and constant in prayerful appeal to God for strength and for the fruit of growth, if it be His will. These labors were by no means limited to our tiny congregation. There was the faithful financial support of all our churches, joined by the regular and often extended presence of many individual families from other congregations, whom we regarded as an organic part of our own flock during their time with us. And what a marvelous support was the attendance of over one hundred and fifty Protestant Reformed people at the family conference on evangelism in 1995. Yet, beyond all this, we especially see the necessity for every one of us, in conduct and conversation, to have drawn any and all whom we might contact in the world, to have drawn them to hear with us the pure preaching of the Word of God. We ought to have done this more, and so must each of us do in the way of being used of God in gathering the lost.

Now, for whatever reasons in the purpose of God, the outpost has fallen. For those who of necessity must remain for the present, the reality of that decision has sunk in sharply. We are learning by painful experience that the true character of the Word of God held by our churches is not even principally shared by anyone else that we know of in our area, except in part, and that often marked by flaws which may seem small to some, but which forebode critical error if their extension goes unchallenged. In earnest have we searched for such crucial distinctives of Scripture as:

The covenant of friendship with His people alone, elect out of all nations, tongues, and tribes, in a covenant established and maintained by God alone.

The grace of God’s absolute sovereignty, unfailingly expressed in the tightly interlocking bands of the Five Points of Calvinism.

The witness of a congregation seeking to live an antithetical life over against the threat of an engulfing worldliness from the surrounding culture without and from the abiding old man within.

The stoutly-buttressed but nearly solitary denial of “common grace” and the “well-intended offer,” which are widely preached by the nominally Reformed, but which put forth a gospel which is no gospel.

The Bible’s pure instruction on marriage, standing pristinely upon the Lord’s loving, though sharp commands, given in the face of an outrageously adulterous generation.

These and others were the very truths so resolutely defended and which so few ultimately embraced who were touched in some way by our witness to them. For these basic distinctives our seeking has been thus far nearly fruitless. It is almost as though we have found ourselves in the very foredawn of the day when the faithful child of God will find no place to stand, will be even an outcast to church, state, and society.

Is it because we are oppressively narrow, even vainly proud of doctrines and church, that we dare to say such things? May God forbid, for we are humbly convinced that this is simply the case before us.

Our sadness, and that of many, is deep-felt and unmistakable. But God … two of the most beautiful words that can fall on the ears of an anguished believer … but God has providentially placed that lamentable announcement in the Standard Bearer between the stalwart exhortations of two devoted men of God standing on either side of that stark statement with a sustaining power stanching our wounds with the healing balm of Gilead, the Living and Written Word of God:

“Encouraged to Persevere in the Lord’s Great Building Project”

and

“Mission Enthusiasm—Stimulated by Golden Opportunities”

These titles and the articles developed from them fall upon our ears with the mocking cackle of Satanic irony silenced by the resounding proclamation of Jehovah’s victory —

“I will shake all nations and the desire of all nations shall come: And I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

And with the calmly resolute exhortation from an Israelite in whom there is no guile:

“The work of the gathering of the lost is a wonder of grace, and all of us stand humbly before God when it pleases Him to use us as instruments in His hand to perform this work. This is worth being enthusiastic about. I trust you are enthusiastic with the confidence that God also uses you.”

We in Houston are thankful for these incisive articles and ask that you read them again with us, and with us be heartened by their instruction and exhortation. Let them, too, be our epitaph — God’s call to arms and His certain victory, both shining above, beyond, and beside our fallen outpost.