Late on Thursday night, July 31, the Rev. C. Hanko, Mrs. Hoeksema, and I arrived home to the greetings of a large number of family and friends, after an extended tour in behalf of our churches in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore.
We are glad and thankful to be home again, thankful to the Lord for His safekeeping throughout our long journey, and thankful, too, for the many contacts we might make in behalf of our churches. It was good, too, by the way, to be back home in time to share in the denominational celebration of our Fiftieth Anniversary as churches.
Many have already inquired as to a report of our tour, and not a few have suggested some gatherings at which we may report orally to our people and show some of our many pictures. Such reports will indeed be forthcoming. First, however, we must have time to prepare our detailed report for the synodical Committee for Contact With Other Churches and, eventually, for Synod. We have detailed notes to digest; and our report, I assure you, will be a lengthy one. For we contacted many churches and individuals, and we participated in a total of some 40 meetings (lectures, cottage meetings, and church services) in a span of 38 days. In that time we made 21 separate plane flights, not to mention several trips by train, bus, and private car. You will understand, therefore, that we have much to report. As soon, however, as our report is finished, we will also begin to report in our editorial columns and will try to arrange for some public gatherings in various localities.
Already now, however, there are a few things which need saying.
In the first place, we believe that the Lord has greatly blessed our tour. Contacts were made, and lasting bonds of friendship were established. And these were not only between individuals, but between churches down under and our churches. Moreover, the Lord gave us an open door; and we believe that there is definitely work for our churches to perform in various places. We may not be selfish, but must be prepared to share our heritage as churches with others.
In the second place, we take this opportunity to express our public thanks to all those who had a part in coordinating our tour and in arranging the various meetings, particularly to Mr. W. van Rij, of Christchurch, New Zealand, to the Rev. Charles Rodman, of Launceston, Tasmania, and to the Rev. John Stafford, of Sydney, Australia. Without their help our tour could not have been successful. We also express our thanks to the many, many people who opened their homes to us along the way; these are too numerous to mention by name, for, with few exceptions, we stayed in private homes throughout our tour, often tarrying but a day or two. And though we were total strangers to many of the people, they gladly opened their homes and their hearts to us and showed us truly Christian hospitality. Brother Rodman humorously expressed the hope when he introduced us at a meeting in Tasmania that we would afterwards say, “The barbarians showed us no little kindness in their island.” Well, they did; but they were no barbarians!
In the third place, we were repeatedly struck by the fact that our Protestant Reformed Churches are known in the various localities we visited through our literature—our Standard Bearer, our pamphlets, and our books. These have been instrumental in spreading our witness. But let me add: there is even more in this respect that can be done and that ought to be done.
Finally, we express our gratitude to our people and our churches for the confidence expressed in delegating us to represent our churches and for the many prayers sent to the throne of grace in our behalf during our absence.