Rev. Brummel, pastor of Edgerton Protestant Reformed Church, is secretary of the Foreign Mission Committee.
Christ’s calling to His disciples and to the church of all ages is clear and unmistakable: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16). Why such a calling? Christ has seen fit to use the preaching of the Word by ordained ministers as the means through which He gathers His church. What an awesome privilege! The preaching of the Word by the church is the tool by which the elect are called and received into the fellowship of Christ and the reprobate are hardened.
The elect are gathered in no other manner! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard: and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:13-15). The elect will be gathered by the preaching of the Word. Christ, by His Spirit, applies the Word to the hearts of His sheep. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Christ’s sheep must hear His voice! Christ places the urgency of missions upon His disciples and upon His church. Christ lays the urgency of missions upon the Protestant Reformed Churches.
This work of missions begins in the lives of each of the members of the church of Jesus Christ. Believers, knowing the joy of their salvation, cannot be silenced. They know the mercy of God toward them in removing the shame and guilt of their sins. They know God’s overwhelming love as manifest by the sacrifice of His own righteous Son for their sins. The believer talks about the joy and peace which is his by grace. He talks to his family, with his fellow workers, with his neighbors, all with a goal of bringing them under the voice of Christ in the preaching. Some are gathered, some are offended. Some rejoice, others mock. God’s will is accomplished. God is glorified.
The work of missions is the work of the local church as she preaches the Word to those who are brought under the preaching. The local church appoints an evangelism committee to spread the Word beyond their own congregation throughout the area. Contacts are made and groups of faithful believers are located. The work then is passed on to the churches as a whole so that the entire denomination might supervise and become a part of this mission work.
Currently the Protestant Reformed Churches have no foreign mission field. We have no missionaries in foreign fields. By God’s grace this may change in the coming year. God has richly blessed the labors of some individuals and congregations within our denomination.
The Foreign Mission Committee (FMC) sent a delegation to Ghana early this year in order to determine whether or not a missionary ought to be called at this time. Rev. Bill Bruinsma and Elder Don Ver Meer concurred with the former delegations that we should recommend to Synod 1996 that Ghana be declared a mission field and a missionary be called to labor there.
Our grounds for calling a missionary are the following: 1) We have found the field to be white for harvest and believe that God has opened the door for our work. 2) Many pastors and individuals have expressed their desire to be instructed by us. 3) The Ghanians’ lives are not adverse to the covenant. The family is considered even by the pagans there as an important structure of society. There are many families, including many young people, male and female, who are interested in the Reformed faith. The institution of marriage is honored. 4) The government of Ghana is relatively stable, making Ghana a safe place to labor. Although a local language would have to be learned, English is the official language of the land and is taught in all the schools.
We are proposing that the missionary begin an independent labor in the city of Accra. This is in harmony with the work of the apostles, who began their labors in the population centers. We desire to begin our own labor with a few committed believers who will be willing to be instructed by our preaching and teaching in our church structure. Others will be admitted only after they understand and believe what we preach and teach.
We are recommending the obtaining of the labors of a volunteer to accompany the missionary to Ghana. This volunteer would be a man, couple, or family, who would go to the field for a minimum labor of one half year at a time, preferably a year. We are recommending also that the call to the field be made contingent upon the obtaining of such volunteer laborers. Their labor would consist of ministering to the physical and material needs of the missionary and the field. We believe that such volunteers are to be found in the midst of our churches, and that they would welcome the opportunity to serve the Lord in this manner.
All of this work is the result of the faithful labor of a few of our local congregations. God raised up men and women in our denomination who have a burden to witness beyond our congregations to all the world. As a result of this burden, the work in Ghana was started over 15 years ago. An elder from one of our churches was in the hospital recovering from an illness. He asked for some magazines, and in one of them a note caught his eye. A man from Ghana, Africa was asking for instruction in the Reformed faith. The elder decided to answer the request. And what began as personal correspondence soon became a full-scale tape and literature ministry. Later the FMC became involved, corresponding with various individuals, visits were made, and now the FMC is proposing that our churches call a missionary to this land.
The FMC has also been busy with contacts in other parts of the world, especially in the Philippines. The FMC believes that the contacts in the Philippines merit sending a delegation to investigate this potential field for labor.
The work of the FMC in the Philippines is also the fruit of diligent labor on behalf of local congregations. The local evangelism committees of a couple of churches made contact with some individuals in the Philippines. Tapes, books, and pamphlets were sent to them, along with careful explanations of the Reformed faith. The fruit of these efforts is that there are pastors in the Philippines who have grown in the truth of God’s Word and have come to know and love the Reformed faith. The FMC is now planning, the Lord willing, to make a trip to the Philippines in order to evaluate the situation and see how we as churches can be used to gather the church in that island country.
The FMC is grateful for the local congregations and faithful men and women who witness on behalf of our churches. Our experience certainly demonstrates that God is pleased to use that kind of witnessing, by individuals and local evangelism committees, to initiate labor for the denomination through its Foreign Mission Committee.
If you as individuals or evangelism committees have contacts in foreign lands, we encourage you to bring them to our attention so that we can assist you in bringing the Word of Christ to them. We patiently instruct our contacts in the truth of Scripture by answering their questions with careful biblical exposition. We send pamphlets, tapes, and books one at a time, and only after the contacts have grasped and understood what we have sent do we send more material. In this way the individuals are slowly built up in the truth.
The FMC cautions against sending money to foreign contacts. We receive hundreds of requests for money and other personal items. Although there is a valid place for benevolence, our primary calling is to bring the Word of Christ (Acts 3:6). We write these individuals and inform them of this primary responsibility. Good stewardship requires that we not send money and other items to those whom we do not know. Even the deacons of our churches distribute the mercies of Christ with wisdom and discretion only to those whom they know have valid needs. Also, sending money to foreign contacts can hinder the work and make it difficult to determine the sincerity of the contacts. The FMC has experienced the difficulty of trying to determine whether contacts were interested in the Word or simply motivated by a desire for financial gain. Our desire is to establish contacts and organize churches which are indigenous, that is, self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. We do not want to convey a wrong idea concerning our intent and labor with them. The FMC sends a sincere thank you to all who are assisting us in this important work on behalf of the church of Jesus Christ. The FMC also wishes to encourage all of our congregations and all members of the church of Jesus Christ to be diligent in spreading the wondrous truth of the gospel. The work is difficult. The work is discouraging at times. But we do not perform it alone: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20b). The Word will not go forth void, but will accomplish its purpose.
In the power of the risen Christ let us go forth to all the ends of the earth, proclaiming the wondrous truth of God’s sovereignty and the joy of our salvation. May we, as insignificant and small as we are, be used to gather the church. To God be the glory!