This is the third, and last, of our special issues for this volume-year. This time the theme of the entire issue is our Protestant Reformed mission outreach; and all of the articles, including our regular church news column, which tempts many readers to start reading with the back page, are devoted to this subject. I take this opportunity to express thanks to all those who have contributed to this missions issue. I will not play favorites and call your attention to this or that article as being of special interest; read all of them, for they are all worthwhile.
Perhaps the question may arise in the minds of some: why does theStandard Bearer present this missions issue?
I must confess that when our staff sub-committee, Prof. Decker and I, planned the issue, we did not stop to give account of our reasons. The plan was rather spontaneous. And, as with other special issues, we have found more than enough material to fill our pages; in fact, the editorial department must be abbreviated in order to provide sufficient room for articles which were written specifically for this issue.
Nevertheless, if I must give account of our reasons, I would say, negatively, that the reason is not that we wish to brag. For if anything has become evident in the course of the history of our Protestant Reformed missions through the years, it is the fact that we have nothing of which to brag. Not only are we small, and not only are our mission efforts proportionately as small as is our denomination, but also on the mission field we have learned the object lesson that all our boasting must be of the Lord our God.
Positively speaking, I could mention more than one reason. One reason is suggested in Prof. Decker’s article: this issue should certainly give the lie to that vicious little lie which our enemies have so often spread abroad concerning us, that “the Protestant Reformed Churches don’t believe in doing mission work.” Another version of that same lie has been that the Protestant Reformed Churches only do mission work among Christian Reformed people. In recent years we have not heard it as frequently as in the past. But I would suggest that an issue such as this one certainly should convincingly bury that slander forever!
A second reason is simply to inform. Sometimes we tend to think that our various mission endeavors are the endeavors of someone else, be it of the “church,” or synod, of this or that committee, or of our missionaries. But the simple fact is that these labors are not those of some impersonal third party, but very really ours. And we not only have a right to know what is going on, but we have a vital spiritual interest in knowing about these labors, or at least we ought to have such an interest. Hence, this is an effort to keep you informed; and it is an effort to stir up your interest at the same time. Personally, I find this issue rather exciting; and I think that our churches are living in some exciting times!
A third reason, closely related to the second, was suggested to me in a recent letter from an elderly friend. I have never met this friend, but know him only through correspondence during the last several years. He is not a member of our churches, cannot be one because he doesn’t live near one of our churches. I may be mistaken, but I think he originally became acquainted with us through our radio program when it was broadcast in southern California. Through the years we have corresponded sporadically, and from time to time he has sent generous gifts, asking me to use them wherever they were needed in our churches. Recently this friend moved to another state, and he missed receiving our annual Acts of Synod and Yearbook. Realizing, I suppose, that I might wonder why he would want to read such a dry-as-dust booklet as our Acts of Synod, he added his reason: “so I can pray more intelligently for your churches.” Well, that is a good reason for this missions issue: so you can pray more intelligently for our missions, but also for our missionaries.
A fourth reason is the fact that the Standard Bearerand the Reformed Free Publishing Association down through the years have always been vitally interested in and played an active part in our Protestant Reformed outreach. If a list could be compiled of all the instances in which the Standard Bearer and R.F.P.A. publications have played a part in getting people acquainted with our Protestant Reformed cause and in which they have even been the initial means or occasion of our mission labors, I assure you such a list would be large! This was the case in our early years, when the Standard Bearer was the chief means of informing and instructing people with respect to the common grace controversy. But also in recent years this has been the case—and probably much more often than many of our people realize. Those of us who are close to our publishing efforts are aware of this and have the opportunity of learning through correspondence or through personal contacts what a mighty means of instruction the pen can be. Often these contacts are made in the most unexpected manner and the most unlikely quarter. This past summer, for example, I met a young man in Singapore who told me he had purchased Behold, He Cometh! in London, England and through it had become convinced of the error of the premillennial position and the right of the amillennial position. And examples can be multiplied of people whose hearts were warmed through the reading of our publications and their Reformed testimony.
I had intended to write a separate editorial about the part of our publications in our missions. But as usual, the editorial department had to be abridged in order to make room for all the material in this issue.
But let us remember: the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, especially when that pen is employed in the service of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!