There was a time when the apostle Paul wrote his famous “nevertheless” in II Timothy 2:19. He had had to contend with Hymenaus and Philetus, who had erred concerning the truth and were overthrowing the faith of some. It was at this point that the great apostle, a man tried in fiery afflictions, uttered the well-known words, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
It is not our purpose to write an exposition of this rich and meaningful text at this time. We only wish to write in this news-item concerning the work in Jamaica that it is in good and purposeful hands. It is not at all in the hands of the Mission Committee, nor is it in the hands of undersigned as missionary. It is firmly and securely in the hands of our almighty God and Father in whom we believe.
We have written very realistically concerning the work and the conditions in the island of Jamaica. And we would add that every word of it stands as reflecting certain objective facets of the work. However, it was not meant to be a complete picture of what is going on in the field. Our work there is not for nought. We are always more than conquerors both in those which perish and in those who are saved.
Preaching the Word is not faith in the field in the first instance, but faith in God and in the power of the Gospel, a power of God unto salvation in those who believe. And such there are in the churches of Jamaica, even though there are many difficulties and frustrations. Satan, too, is working very industriously with his prophets of the Pentecostal-Holiness lies. Yet the power of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit working through this means of grace is mightier than all. As many as are ordained to eternal life believe. That is the “nevertheless” of the above quoted passage from II Timothy.
There is also evidence of such power of God in the Gospel on the island.
The first evidence of this power is the fact that the congregations have not all left the Protestant Reformed Churches in Jamaica. There has come a distinction between those who are “for” and who are “against.” Even when we preach, the word is received by those in whose heart God works through the preaching. Not to see this makes any activity of mission work impossible, and it also would be a denial of the sure promise of God “that the Lord knows who are his own,” A preacher of the Gospel lives by faith and not by sight, even though often a preacher has the fainting spells that all seems hopeless. A mighty prophet such as was Elijah would rather die than .live when he sees the seeming victory of the powers of hell exhibited in the adulteress Jezebel. The broken reed must not be broken, and the smoldering flax must not be extinguished. We must not deny the evidence of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The second evidence is that the Lord is preparing young men there for the ministry of the Word. Fact is, that, during the summer months, four students are sent out by our school to supplement the preaching power of the ministers, Revs. Frame and Elliott. Rev. Heys gave some very basic and thorough instruction in Hermeneutics and Homeletics in the classes for a period of five months. Although these students need more practice in sermonizing—which candidate for the ministry doesn’t?—they are now at a point where they are fledglings in sermonizing, and with approved sermons can go out and preach a word of edification. Undersigned was also present at the classes when the sermons were heard and criticized in class and suggestions of improvements in form and content were made. At any rate this, too, is an evidence of the work of the Spirit, we do believe. And even though many have left us, nevertheless there is ground for hope resting solely in the work of God.
The third evidence is that during the past three months we might witness three weddings in the churches, and two more are yet to come in the next two months. No one can live in adultery and concubinage in the churches and be members in good standing. During a past year an elder in one of the churches was put out of office and barred from the Lord’s supper for leaving his wife and living in adultery with another woman. That, too, is fruit of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel on the island. And it is an approximation of the goal set before us to seek to establish the true church which may be recognized by the threefold earmarks: Pure preaching of the Word, proper administration of the Sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline. With this framework we also greet the weddings and Christian marriages as evidence that God’s work is pressing on; the Lord knows who are His own, and let every one who nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. It may be well to point out that these young people who are seeking marriage are those who were under the concentrated teaching of our island Seminary. One of the leading elders called these weddings: pattern-weddings for the churches.
We have passed through a year of crises the past year. What the future holds we do not know. But we do know who holds the future. The Lord knows that that are his! And so we may boldly say that we will not fear, but pray to the Lord of harvests for faithfulness which is required in stewards. More people may still leave us, others may revile us and hate us and corrupt the truth, nevertheless we press on, keeping our eye and hope upon the living God.
Let this “nevertheless” also motivate us in our prayers for the work of God in general and for the work in Jamaica in particular. We must not easily stop praying; we must not allow the despondency of littleness of faith to cause us to cease to acknowledge in prayer that God is for us! Do pray for us and also for Candidate Mark Hoeksema and his help-meet who will accompany us for six months. May the Lord bless these united efforts in the field. Brother Hoeksema will preach and teach. He will teach in our school both English and New Testament History, while the undersigned will teach Old Testament History, Doctrine (Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordt) and Church History.
Hopefully after one more year of instruction the students can be graduated. What the Lord then has in store for our churches in laboring in these indigenous churches we will need to seek to ascertain then. But whatever the Lord has in store, He has it in store. May we ever seek to do His bidding.