With this contribution to our department we plan to bring this report, filed with the Mission Committee and read at the 1969 Synod, to a close.
In the last installment we were reporting about the shipment of clothing which had been sent to the brethren and sisters in Jamaica and which we were to supervise as to obtaining it from customs and distributing to the churches. The report continues.
Thursday, Rev. Ruddock came with his truck driver for his share of the clothing, but he was late, and we missed him. To make sure we went back in the afternoon to the freight house and found that his little station wagon could not hold all the bundles. There still were two left, no, one was a wooden box of hats and purses. We squeezed the bundle into the back seat of our compact and got the box in the trunk being forced to keep the lid open. Back at the villa we opened the box and spread the hats and purses papers on the floor of the trunk. For we had to go to Porters Mt. that night and could not go that way with the trunk open. The bundle squeezed in the back seat had to stay there; and since Mr. Feenstra was ill, there was still room for the three of us.
We had held a service Wednesday night and Rev. Ruddock explained to us that his truck driver had disappointed him and did not show up because he had a bigger hauling job that day which would pay more.
The service that Wednesday night was at Sunderland, and we enjoyed it even though we were ridiculed and mocked by young men at the bottom of the hill. Our car was parked there in the vicinity of the origin of the mockery and blasphemy that came upward to our ears. We were somewhat fearful of more flat tires, but our covenant God took care of us. Two flat tires there would mean that we would have to stay there all night. We were almost to the end of the road which ran dead up against the mountain. Help could not be obtained until morning. You just do not find a gasoline station around every corner in the Jamaican hills! And Mr. Feenstra was at home very sick and alone with no way at all for us to send him word. We experienced again that “underneath are the Everlasting Arms.”
Thursday night we did deliver the last of the clothing. The Southeast deacons did an excellent job of packing, and the goods arrived in perfect condition. The brethren and sisters expressed their great appreciation for the clothing. The service that Thursday night was on Porters Mt. in a Baptist church building. The whole neighborhood was invited to attend. The Porters, after whom the mountain was named, were also there. There was good attention to the sermon on Rev. 22:12, a text that Rev. Ruddock had requested for this service. And we do here wish to underscore the words of Rev. Frame and Rev. Elliott, “Some will leave, but many will stay and do follow for the spiritual bread.” How else shall we explain that here on Porters Mt., where we have no church, but where Rev. Ruddock lives, his people from Fort William came for the service? They began to walk up the mountain from Ft. William at 4 P.M. and arrived at 7 P.M., a three hour walk up, which meant also a three hour walk down in the dark after the service.
They did not come that night for shillings or material goods. Nor did the people from Hope Hill, who came by truck way across the island for that last Sunday which we spent on the island. We gave them no money for travel, gave no one any money for travel with the exception of the ministers when we sent them on an errand. We gave no money for group travel or for individuals to travel, unless it was to go to the doctor. We gave them the Word. And they came back and traveled great distances for that Word. They desire money greatly for their buildings and for their needs; and they do need better buildings to meet the standards of the government, which is a requirement, if their ministers are to be given the right to perform the marriage ceremony. We explained to them, and told their ministers to explain to them, that we could give nothing for these buildings until their properties were legally secured.
Our last Sunday was memorable. The three of us went to Lucea in the morning and were pleased to see these Hope Hill people there. At night groups from all over the island were present. Rev. Heys took his courage in the morning and preached a simplified version of his lecture on “The Last Hour” preaching on I John 2:18 where this expression appears. We were surprised at the contact that was made and was held throughout the entire sermon. This congregation at Lucea does seem to be able to dig into the truth more deeply than some others. Instead of taking along a packed lunch we went back home for lunch since Mr. Feenstra wanted to be at that farewell sermon at night if at all possible. He really was not fit, but the spirit was willing, even though the flesh was weak; and he did go back with us. We had a very enjoyable hour in our group discussion, this time on the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. At night Rev. Heys preached on those words of Paul, “. . . much more in my absence work out your own salvation . . .”, Philippians 2:12, 13.
The parting was hard. All present one by one filed across the platform to shake our hands and to wish us God’s blessing. We find it hard to believe that these men (and this time it was men) of a different race and color, weeping as they came forward to such an extent that they did not dare to say a word but only gripped your hand firmly and walked on, have not also grasped the Word of God firmly in the truth which we preached. We left, sad at parting but wonderfully encouraged in soul that our labors were not in vain. They sang, “God be with you till we meet again.” And we went down the hill with that ringing in our hearts, wondering whether that would ever be again in this life. We remember Dr. Schilder’s words, “Saying farewell is dying a little.”
Monday a goodly group was at the airport—even from Reading and Islington—to see us off. It was a far bigger group than last year. Safe journeys home were ours; and though the work is behind, our thoughts return to those with whom we worked every day; and we present them in their spiritual need to our churches, but above all to our covenant God Who gave us the privilege to serve in this field.
Considering all the above it will become plain that we had eight action-filled weeks. And if this is not sufficient to show it, then the fact that our little compact had 3,620 miles more on it, when for the last time we parked it at the airport than when we picked it up there, will indicate this fact. Phone service is of no consequence, even though we had one at the villa. So few people have one and so few establishments. You have to ride over to see and meet. Mail service on the island is slow and poor. And with the exception of that trip to Accompong in the cockpit country we took no excursions or sightseeing tours.
In all, then, we attended 32 services and covered the churches on the island as fully as possible. We met with most of the congregations on Sunday for our Bible discussion sessions; and this year stayed with the people as much as possible and became better acquainted with them. We found them to be a simple but sincere people, having the same weaknesses of the flesh that we have, but spiritually eager to hear what we have to say from God’s Word. Wishing you God’s blessing and fruit upon all your difficult and important labors we remain,
The Emissaries of 1968
W.S. John A. Heys
W.S. Thys Feenstra
And so ends the report of the emissaries of 1968. We do like to add a few lines of information. In our own churches we are deeply concerned with the shortage of ministers to serve our congregations. The matter is even more critical in the Protestant Reformed Churches in Jamaica. Rev. Elliott is a man in his sixties, and at the time of the labors of 1968 was serving eleven churches. Making a continuous circuit this means that each congregation can see him only once in eleven weeks! And there are no Seminarians or professors to occupy these other ten pulpits—or for that matter as much as one of them!—but the elders take over. Rev. Frame is only a little younger and has five churches to serve, which means that even if he kept up a circuit, his people would see him no more than once a month. And so often it happens less than this. The same is true with Rev. Ruddock, who has five churches, and is one year younger than Rev. Frame.
Add to this the fact that these ministers do not have cars to drive from church to church and the fact that these churches are so scattered; and you can see that travel between two churches on a Sunday is not the easiest thing, nor very apt to happen.
It becomes plain, then, that young men must be trained for the ministry in these churches. This is a must! It is encouraging to know that there are young men who desire to prepare for this work. But due to the past history of the island there are few who are prepared to receive any training before finishing the equivalent of a high school education. The Jamaican government since their independence six years ago has made tremendously large and rapid strides in building schools and of educating the youth of the land. But it is quite late as far as our needs are concerned for young men with education and ability to serve in the ministry. One redeeming feature, however, is the fact that these Jamaicans have keen and quick minds. They have much to learn of the Reformed faith because they were never taught it before. But they are quick to grasp the truth and to see its beauty. Rev. Elliott expressed it for them all, no doubt, when he told the emissaries of this year that after being taught these five points of Calvinism he can now see what he always believed but could not see so clearly, namely, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Indeed, so it must be! For these five points of Calvinism display the certain perseverance of the saints through all trial and tempest, because they declare a basic truth of the Word of God, namely, God everything; man nothing! They present a totally depraved sinner whose election will have to be and is unconditional, for their depravity, according to Ephesians 2:1, consists in this that they are dead in trespasses and sin. On the other hand, these five points speak of a God Who elects and by this election limits the atonement achieved by Christ, and then irresistibly draws these by His grace. Of man they say that, being dead, he does nothing. Of God they say that ALL of our salvation is of Him, through Him and unto Him. Then we can be sure that dead men are not only made alive but stay alive and persevere to the end. God is everything, also in that perseverance.
We comment these brethren and sisters, whose color and temperament complements ours in the body of Christ, to God’s grace and care, and to you in your prayers on their behalf.