In our last article, entitled “De keuze van een zendingsveld,” we purposed to set forth how that we as Protestant Reformed Churches felt it our duty to call the Christian Reformed Churches back to the faith of our fathers, and cause her to retract her heresies and return to the truths of God’s absolute sovereignty and of the total depravity of man, the two cardinal doctrines of the Reformed faith. And further that if she refused to return from her evil way, to call out of her midst all those, who, together with us, desired to be faithful to our Reformed heritage. How to seek contact with all such is the subject of this present article.
During the first ten or twelve years of our existence as Protestant Reformed Churches it was our pokey to seek contact only with those seeking us, and hence only to labor in such localities and communities where there were those who were already interested in our cause and requested us to labor in their midst. It was especially the Rev. H. Hoeksema, who, during these years was sent out into various localities of the Christian Reformed Churches, and rendered invaluable service. He would enlighten and instruct such communities in re the Common Grace controversy, and point out the heresies contained in the “Three Points.” If there were a sufficient number of those that were vitally interested in the Reformed truth, these groups were then organized into Protestant Reformed congregations. During the first years of our existence there were several such communities that were interested in the cause of our churches. Among the first congregations so organized there were Hull, Byron Center, Hudsonville, Roosevelt Park, South Holland, Oak Lawn, Doon, Sioux Center, Pella and Oskaloosa. Later Holland, Creston, Rock Valley, Orange City, Redlands, Bellflower and Grand Haven were added. Due to the fact that the Common Grace controversy, during these first years, was a very live issue also in the Christian Reformed Churches, there was a far greater interest than now. Gradually there is arising a generation that is more or less ignorant of the controversy which was waged during the years 1920-24. This was in no small part due to the fact that the leaders of the Christian Reformed Churches soon learned that the more they sought to defend the theory of Common Grace as expressed in the “Three Points,” the more the people’s eyes were opened to its fallacies, and hence they have avoided the issue as much as possible. Instead of instructing the people as to the issues involved in the Common Grace controversy, as the Synod of 1924 advised, they have used every possible means to casting remarks at our churches. It has time and again been presented as though the Protestant Reformed Churches are a group of people, who a few years ago withdrew from the Christian Reformed Churches, and caused an unnecessary breach under the leadership of a few ministers who could not have their own way. Others have spread the rumor that the doctrine of the Protestant Reformed Churches is extremely dangerous, making God the author of sin, and denying the responsibility of man. We have even met more than one during the past few years, who were under the impression that not the Christian Reformed Churches, but that we had adopted the “Three Points” in 1924. One elderly gentleman even informed me that some years ago during house visitation he had remarked to the visiting pastor, “wat wil die Ds. Hoeksema toch met zijn ‘drie punten’?”, and that his pastor had left him in his ignorance, instead of informing him that not the Rev. Hoeksema, but that the Christian Reformed Churches had accepted the “Three Points.” We have even met members of the Christian Reformed Churches who were entirely ignorant of the fact that there was a Protestant Reformed denomination, and lived under the impression that there was but one “Ds. Hoeksema’s church.” This wide-spread ignorance is largely due to the policy of “dood-zwijgen” which the leaders of the Christian Reformed Churches have adopted, while on the other hand their false accusations have filled the hearts of others with suspicion and prejudice against us.
It was for these reasons that we as Protestant Reformed Churches felt that it was not sufficient to wait until there were those that sought contact with us, but that we should go out and seek contact with Reformed Christians everywhere and combat these evil reports and this wide-spread ignorance, and show that not we, but that the Christian Reformed Churches, in adopting the “Three Points” had departed from the Reformed faith. It ‘was for this purpose that our churches felt the need of a home missionary.
It must, however, be self-evident, that it is far more difficult to seek contact with those that are grossly ignorant of our churches, or deeply prejudiced against them, than with those who first sought contact with us and requested us to labor in their midst. It was comparatively easy to come into a community where there were those who were already vitally interested enough in the cause of our churches to ask us to come, and in some cases even ready to join the fellowship of our churches. The soil, as it were, was all prepared and all that had to be done was to sow the seed. Then it was oftentimes only a matter of a few weeks and there would be sufficient interest to warrant the organizing of a new congregation. It is a far different matter, however, there where as yet no interest has been shown. Then it is very difficult.
So it was in our missionary labors. One can hardly imagine how difficult it is to find contact and gain the confidence of those that are filled with prejudice against our churches, and even if there were a few that were sympathetic to our cause, they would hesitate to reveal their sympathies for “fear of the Jews.” It often took weeks and months to overcome this fear and prejudice, and gain the confidence of a few. In order to gain this confidence it is very important that the missionary live in the community in which he labors. He should continually come in contact with those whom he seeks in their daily walk of life. It is also of great importance to find a centrally located meeting place where he can lecture and speak, and also find the best ways and means of announcing these meetings. It has been our experience that the best way to find contact with Reformed Christians is to bring them the Reformed truth. If one can only succeed in arousing enough interest so that they will come and listen to the expounding of the Reformed doctrines as revealed in the Word of God, then you can soon find an entrance into the hearts and confidence of those that love the Reformed truth. But even as it is in the field of radio, all your efforts are in vain unless you can get them to “tune in.” It is certainly true that only the Lord, by His grace and Spirit, can incline the hearts unto His truth, but it is and remains our duty to use every means at our disposal to seek contact with many of our Reformed brethren who are still ignorant of the truths for which we stand, and for which we were cast out from the fellowship of the Christian Reformed Churches. It is our hope and prayer that we as churches may continue to see this as our duty and that the Lord will soon provide our churches with another home missionary, who will make it his calling to seek contact with these Reformed brethren.