Tongues are wagging, ears are tingling and credibility is being tried. The “citizen’s band radio” is so very busy these days that it is becoming more and more difficult to sort out the rumor-news from the true-news. The Mission Committee thought it expedient to tune up the “official band radio” to give you more of the Jamaican mission news — hence this installment that had been promised you. Some of which you heard on the citizen’s band was true, of course, but the deductions and analyses are being stretched to the “I can’t believe it” stage. Were you tuned in when it was deduced that all Jamaicans are “grabbers” and infected with a severe case of the “gimmes”? Attend to the following request found in a letter to Rev. and Mrs. Lubbers: “. . .although I have never gotten a personal gift from any one of you, I am asking you for one now: a photograph of both of you, one that can be framed.” Now that “gimme” came not from a “grabber” but from a good friend who wanted a picture by which to remember them.
The Mission Committee, in its monthly meetings, is deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the brethren and sisters in the faith on the Island of Jamaica, those whose hearts the Lord has touched through the faithful ministration of our missionary, Rev. G. Lubbers. They are a matter of our official and personal prayers. They are the faithful “remnant” with whom the King of His Church is ever concerned. They are among the innumerable throng of redeemed which shall eat and drink at the marriage feast of the Lamb.
Yes, the Mission Committee has decided to suspend the labor of Rev. Lubbers there until Synod meets in June. Yes, he has shipped all his personal belongings back home to Terrace Ave. in Jenison. Yes, his work is finished in Jamaica. But all work is not finished on that island. Just as in a local congregation whose pastor has left them, taking a call from another church,his work is finished in their congregation, but all work is not finished. Their catechism teaching goes on; their elders and deacons are still functioning; their Sunday School is still instructing the little children in the way of sanctification; their men’s society and ladies’ society and young people’s society are in session. No, no, allwork is not finished in a vacant church! So in Jamaica. Two ministers, four students and various elders and deacons are still preaching, teaching and exhorting the membership in a concerted effort to face the world under the banner of the Truth. Yes, the Mission Committee has appointed Revs. Hanko and Heys to visit Jamaica in April to “evaluate” the field; come with propositions to the Committee and then to Synod whether or not to continue laboring there; to suggest the calling of a missionary or missionaries; to assist them in other ways by magazines, pamphlets, personal letter writing, etc. The Mission Committee is leaving that up to the sanctified judgment of the emissaries. Revs. Hanko and Heys. Now come with us on a little flight of imagination. Can we hear Him asking?:
“What went ye out for to see? A people firmly established as Protestant Reformed Churches, fully settled in the faith of the Fathers? Hardly. “But what went ye out for to see? A people who are so advanced on the way of sanctification that they are no longer interested in earthly goods, earthly goals and earthly gold?” Hardly. “But what went ye out for to see?” A people who are like you in that they are poor, miserable lost sinners in need of cleansing and forgiveness of sins; in need of comforting words from the Scriptures; in need of instruction and nourishment derived only from the Word of God; a people who must daily struggle with the onslaughts of the world, the devil and their own sinful flesh; who daily must confess that they have fallen far short of subduing that three-headed enemy; a people who are just like you, sin accepted!
Now of course our missionaries and emissaries did not see only that sort of people as described in our imaginary questioning, no more than our own pastors see only that kind in our congregations. All the citizens of the U.S. do not tit that description; all the citizens of Grand Rapids are not sin-burdened and longing for deliverance; and just possibly not all of those on the membership rolls of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America consciously echo the plaint of Paul as recorded in Romans 7:24. Yes, we still desire earthly good, and pursue earthly goals and save earthly gold. We have not yet arrived at the pearly gates, divested of our earthly house, desiring to be clothed upon with the white robes of the righteousness of Christ.
No, our emissaries do not have their heads in the clouds. They are practical men with years of experience in pastoral work. They are eminently qualified to “evaluate” the field. They will do so taking upon themselves to learn if the door is open, if it is closing, or if it is closed. Next they will try to advise the Committee if men are trying to close the door which the Lord has opened for us, or if the Lord Jesus Himself has closed it. Woe be to us if we cease laboring in a field which the King of His Church has not closed to us!
At this writing the Mission Committee believes that God has His dear children on that island. It does so on many items of interest. This one from the missionary-helper: “But the situation must be kept in perspective. Though most seem to be fools, there are wise men. The students . . . have shown wisdom. There are elders who are wise, and there are people there who have shown wisdom.” He called them the “minority.” Don’t you see the word “remnant” in that word? They are the faithful few that are genuinely interested in the Reformed Faith. The Missionary wrote, “Now it is my earnest prayer to God for these churches that they prosper well. I do not believe that our leaving here will or can shorten the hand of the Lord. I commend these churches, ministers and students unto the hand of the Lord Who is able to keep them and give them a place among all the sanctified.” And lastly, an excerpt from a letter Rev. and Mrs. Lubbers received from a family from one of the churches:
. . .Please let me say that you both will dwell long in our hearts and your memory will never fade from our hearts. God bless you as you prepare for home and loved ones, those you left behind to come to teach us things we did not know before, not knowing what kind of time you would have, and yet you came. The Lord, to Whom you gave your time and talents so willingly, keep His Love and Grace shining in your lives; may He give you abundant joy for all the sorrows and pains you have experienced here, as He gave you strength for the many bumpy roads you traveled so faithfully for three long years to bring us the Word and many gifts. You have left many examples behind. You have made deep impressions upon our hearts. You were so loving to us. You showed no racial pride, not puffed up, two grand people. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for everything you so faithfully and lovingly did for us. Some of our own natives would have long time worn out their welcome because of pride. You came preaching Christ and living Christ. You gave us something to think about constantly. Please believe me that I have learned much more from you than what you preached. . . . The Lord that made white and black give you His choicest blessings; may He pilot you safely home. . . . Your humble children, . . . .
Yes, we are in contact with children who are hungering and thirsting for the Bread and Water of Life. No, our efforts have not all gone “down the drain”; much of it just may have gone up “Jacob’s Ladder” instead. Probably the Lord has other of his children there who have not yet been reached with the preaching of the Word. We do not know.
Brethren and sisters of our constituency, pray for the cause of missions in Jamaica; pray for the faithful ministers and students; pray for the faithful elders and deacons; pray for the wandering sheep; pray for the Revs. Hanko and Heys as they carry the responsibility of “evaluating the field” seeking the Lord’s will for us in our mission work. Only then, walking in the Light of the favor of God, can they see to come to a sanctified judgment of the situation of our mission field.
Sec’y of the Mission Committee