To be hungry is one thing.
To go away hungry is another.
Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:5And the glory of the new Jerusalem is described inRevelation 7:15, 16 in the words, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them: They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.”
Blessed are they that hunger. . . . And yet the blessedness of the new Jerusalem is such that its inhabitants shall not hunger any more.
But is it not true even in our natural life that hunger is a good sign? A mother notices something is wrong with her child when that child no longer has any hunger. A healthy child has a strong appetite and seems to be hungry all the time. Hunger is the desire and the awareness of a need for food. Blessed are they that are aware of the need of the righteousness of Christ: for they shall be filled. Sad is the condition of those who know not this need, who know not their misery, their unrighteousness before God, and know not the joyful sound of the gospel. Blessed are they that hunger with desire also for the Word of God, for they shall not go away hungry. There will be hunger in the Holy City in the sense that there will be the awareness of and desire for spiritual food. There will be no hunger in the sense that any in that city shall go away hungry.
We would do well to examine our spiritual appetite both for righteousness and for the Bread of life. We may find that we are not too healthy spiritually and are quite content to go away hungry, that is, go away empty of the blessings of God’s kingdom. We may find that we are too eager for the things of this world, so that we have no time even and room for the spiritual.
At the moment we are with many who are blest with hunger. Indeed, here on the island of Jamaica they also hunger for earthly bread and go away hungry. Although there are signs of some improvement in living conditions of the brethren and sisters of the churches of Revs. Elliott, Frame and Ruddock, the need is still evident and great. Many know what it is to go away hungry for the needs of this life. And this concerns us. We have expressed to each other our compassion for them. They are to be pitied when they go away hungry. But we must not have one smallest part of pity for them in regard to their hunger for the truth. Instead we repeat the words of Jesus, Blessed they are in their hunger for righteousness and for Christ who is their righteousness. They do not go away hungry; and they have again this year confessed that they are richly fed with the truth, which they have learned to call, “The Reformed Faith.”
We left for Jamaica—Mr. and Mrs. Thys Feenstra, my wife and I—June 25 and began our labors with a service at First Hill, Lucea, Wednesday evening, June 26. For the hungry souls assembled the Bread of Life, as it is found in Isaiah 40:1, 2, was broken that night.
They ate that spiritual food and went away satisfied. And we left with a sense of thankfulness that once again we might present the Word to them as they had never heard it before they came in contact with our churches. It is July 15 today, and in a span of less than three weeks we have preached 11 times, met with three groups—from Port Maria and Islington on the eastern end of the island to Lucea on the west to show them some colored slides which we took of them last year, and of American scenes, especially from our home town, Holland, Michigan, according to promise. Two years ago we began to conduct a correspondence course with these brethren and sisters on this island and introduced to them the five points of Calvinism, using the word T U L I P to help them remember the first letter of each point and thus the five points themselves. They were eager to see what a real tulip looked like. And last year we took pictures along to show them, but were unable to rent or use a projector. So this time we took along the excess baggage of our projector and showed them tulips of many kinds and colors and used these pictures to remind them of the truth expressed in these five points. They had not forgotten, and enjoyed seeing the tulips. Electricity is to be found only in the Port Maria and Lucea church. So in Islington we were given the use of a Baptist church; and in Reading, Lacovia, before a Wednesday evening service, we plan to make use of a school. Even then we are experiencing some difficulty because of the power shortage here in Jamaica. The papers furnish a schedule of what hours the power will be shut off; but this schedule is only another matter in Jamaica to disregard. It is not adhered to with any certainty. This was no small source of inconvenience for us at first. For our first two weeks were spent in three cottages that had electric stoves; and we had to get used to candle light by nightfall—which here is 7:15P.M.—and to having our dinner partly cooked or just started only to have to improvise with something cold. But now we are settled under a different arrangement in the same place which we had last year, which was not available before, and we cook with gas. And upon returning home we probably will have a good picture of our breakfast cook, Mr. Feenstra, preparing our pancakes. He really does know how.
Our first Sunday we spent with Rev. Elliott at Mahoe—a two hours drive from Islington. And that was a real mountain drive. We thought last year that we had climbed the steepest; but this one takes all the skill and experience of one accustomed to mountain driving. We did it without incident and are thankful that the concern whose car we rented last year reserved for us this year a brand new Ford Cortina that had only 240 miles on it when we took possession. It is a joy to drive it on these narrow and steep roads. Here again in Mahoe the Word was received by eager and attentive ears. Wednesday evening was spent at Port Maria and Thursday evening at Buff Bay. Mahoe is up the mountains from Buff Bay and required foot power mountain climbing as well as auto power. Sunday, July 7 was set aside for a morning service at Reading, West Lacovia and an evening service up the mountains again on a very rough road to Northhampton Mountain. This was again a very full day. For we left here at 8 A.M. for a two hour drive to Reading, had our morning service, returned to our car for a packed lunch, and then returned for an afternoon meeting at which we first played a tape of meetings of the Mission Committee members, which they had prepared at our last meeting before we left for Jamaica. The people were glad for this personal touch and contact with our people whom they had not yet met. Smiles were also to be seen when the voice of Mr. Meulenberg, whom they did meet face to face some years ago, came to their ears from the recorder. We then sat down with them—rather than to preach to them from the pulpit—and gathered them around us to discuss Psalm 23. To us this gave a new and wonderful feeling of unity with them in the truth but also of thankfulness for the opportunity to discuss God’s Word with them. We used the catechetical approach of questioning them and answering their questions in regard to the text, applying their answers to their life. We did this the three Sundays thus far; and these Jamaican brethren and sisters also seemed to enjoy this form of instruction very much. And they know their Bible! Make no mistake about that. That also is our point of contact with them. Just begin to quote a text in a sermon, and they will quote the rest with you. This is invaluable for instruction. You can forget your outline and explain to them what they themselves are quoting with you.
That they hunger for the truth—not because they do not know their Bible but because they desire the richer presentation of that truth, the Gospel as it is in Christ—is evident from how they follow you. The group at Reading followed us to Northhampton Mt. And to our consternation but also pleasant surprise they were at Lucea this last Sunday, leaving at 5 in the morning and returning back at 9 to be home about 11 P.M. You cannot fill their desire for the truth. They do not walk away as those who have no more appetite. They ask for more.
July 10—O yes let it be pointed out that the service at Buff Bay was on the Fourth of July, an ordinary day here and no holiday, but a different Fourth from what we would have had on that holiday in the States—we were at Johnsontown and Thursday at Waterworks. Sunday we were at Lucea and experienced another of these torrential rains. It delayed our Psalter sing which the Hope Heralds prepared for these brethren and sisters and our discussion of Psalm 23 in Lucea. But it did cool off our day as well as give the fields some much needed moisture.
There is, we believe, a marked improvement in the Psalter singing since the last shipment of Psalters. But many more Psalters are needed; and gradually they do add a new song. Some of the numbers they do sing are 10; 161 with their own tune, 200, 221, 278, 381, 383 and 408. We try in our sermons to refer to the truths in these Psalter numbers, for we feel here too that we have a point of contact, and an opportunity to give further instruction and explanation.
Our schedule for the week ahead calls for preaching at Mt. Lebanon Wednesday evening and Shrewsbury Thursday evening. The rest of the week we expect to be busy with the shipment of clothing that is due to arrive between July 11 and 16. We need not go to Kingston for this and thus our preaching schedule will not be disrupted by these necessary but mundane things. We expect to have it shipped by rail to Montego Bay where we can be present when customs examines it and then distribute it to the three groups of churches. The three ministers can dome to Montego Bay and arrangement for trucks can be made for the local areas.
The time does not drag but has flown by thus far and we expect the last two thirds of our stay to be the same. There is much instruction that can yet be given. The surface has only been scratched. Especially as far as the children are concerned there is a tremendous field here for giving instruction in the truth which we have been blessed to know and enjoy all these years. This is even true of the children in the hills who do not belong to the churches of Revs. Elliott, Frame and Ruddock. And we have been contacted by two ministers of other groups who attended our services about closer affiliation with us. A school established here on the island would be attended not only but be a blessing to these people of another color and race who have the same God and Lord and salvation.