THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING
?And they said unto me. The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.?
MY LAST TENT SERIES
Gander has a special place in my heart as the place I didn?t want to go, but knew I had to go. I had wanted to have a series of tent meetings in Vancouver, but my brother, Gaius Goff, had committed himself to Gander for the summer season, and he wanted me to go with him. Since some of my family were back there, I came to the conclusion that was where I should go.
So we went back from Vancouver to Corner Brook, and then to Gander. Mr. Goff and I had started in tent work together in 1973 in Gander Bay, and now ten years later in 1983, we were still together, engaged in tent work in Gander. In 1973, we saw much blessing in salvation and a good work had been done.
In 1983, we were able to help some of those dedicated Christians who lived in Gander faithfully having Bible studies in their homes. These believers, along with Bryan Funston and Marvin Derksen, who had worked there, were anxious to have Gospel meetings.
Gaius Goff was very committed to it, and the next positive confirmation was that we had a good crew who was willing to use good methods to reach that area, so we began. We had open-air meetings from a drive-in unit in Gander and also the towns around Gander. We had a gospel display in the two shopping centres. Every house was visited. Some of the men worked with children in all other phases of the work.
Jon Procopio took a young man with him to Fogo for two weeks in the open-air unit, and had a great interest in the drive-in Gospel meetings. Much seed was sown in those open-air meetings in central Newfoundland that summer, and fruit has been seen.
FOLLOW-UP IS A KEY TO BUILDING
A baptism was held late in the summer in Gander Lake. Follow-up meetings were held teaching assembly truth and before the Fall was over, a new assembly was formed. The meeting room was the old courtroom where the magistrate used to preside over local cases. One brother who was saved in that room said, ?I found out I was condemned here in this room, but I was also pardoned here!?
That first Sunday morning, all the brethren taking part and all showing a genuine appreciation of the Lord Jesus characterized the remembrance meeting. Souls being saved, baptized and gathered to the Lord?s Name bring honour to Him.
We should never say we are living in the days of small things. If others are seeing people saved around us, we should be seeing souls saved, too. We should be having our share of worshipers. Otherwise, our method is wrong, our attitude is wrong, our idea of being satisfied with only a few souls saved each year is wrong. Souls should be getting saved regularly. our churches should be growing, prospering spiritually, flourishing in quality and quantity. Excuses such as, ?These are more difficult times? or ?We can?t expect to see much now,? only displays our weakness, lack of zeal and love to the Lord.
We come out Sunday morning and worship the Lord, but can?t be bothered asking anyone out Sunday night to hear how they can be saved. There must be something wrong. This isn?t what I see in the mandate Christ gave when He commissioned His own to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. We don?t like to show our barrenness, but it is only the truth that is going to bring repentance and revival. Assembly principles and assembly growth will die out unless we have more of a fervent gospel outreach.
KEEP THE GOALS CLEARLY BEFORE YOU
My sincere thanks, gratitude and appreciation for all the prayers of the saints. Recently, I had a letter from a friend of mine in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. I came to know him shortly after he was saved. We have often talked together, and sometimes disagreed on certain issues. In his letter he pointed out some things of which I was unaware.
He wrote, ?One thing about our friendship -- we disagreed sometimes on things, but it never made any difference the next day!? Sometimes Christians lose friendship because they don?t see eye to eye on certain issues. A real friend is a person that remains your friend even through disagreements. That is the kind of friends you need. I am thankful for such friends.
I know that not everyone agrees with our approach to evangelism. In Newfoundland, we have experienced many adventures in evangelism over the past years and have tried different methods. The message of the gospel never changes, but the methods may. We have seen God work, and feel these methods are not evil, though they may be different. We are trying to reach another generation that think differently and they need a different approach.
PLOWED GROUND PRODUCES
There are two kinds of ground. There is the fallow ground and also the plowed ground. The fallow ground is content to be inside a fence. It is content with not bearing fruit, just lying dormant. The Lord does encourage us to ?Come ye apart and rest awhile!? He knows we need to be renewed spiritually, so that we can continue to bear more fruit for His glory. The Lord never intended us to remain in a dormant condition indefinitely. The spirit of adventure is dead, and that fenced in ground is not producing. That is like many of us. We like the idea of being fenced in and just being where we are. We don?t want anything to change. We have fenced ourselves in to certain ideas for which we have no basis from scripture and we have fenced God out.
There is the smug, complacent, fallow ground that is not producing much. There is also the plowed up ground that brings forth green shoots producing fruit. There must be the plowed ground before there can be the sowing, the fruit and the reaping.
There are usually three reactions to different ideas in gospel work. One of them is total rejection; it will not work. The second: it has been tried before, so there is no use trying it again. Third: it has not been done this way before, and because it is different, it, too, is rejected. So, you really have to be a pioneer in these things, moving ahead as the believers did in New Testament times. They, too, had opposition but they had God with them.
What are we looking for? Are we looking to see God work in our own individual lives? Are we looking to see God work in our assemblies? Here is a comparison, though not necessarily foolproof. I will draw frp~n my own experience. I am thinking of a village in Labrador. Approximately twenty percent of those people are born-again Christians who have influence on another twenty percent of the population in that particular place. In this village is a large Gospel Hall. A recent letter from one of the elders said that it appears we will have to extend the building because we are getting large numbers of unsaved people out to hear the gospel Sunday nights.
Compare that to Vancouver, remembering that the big cities have more things to attract people, but they have the same God. Twenty percent of 1,000,000 would be 200,000 believers influencing 200,000 unbelievers for God. We need to take God?s command seriously. God has given us a mandate! ?Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
A New Testament church must be a light in the world, showing the way for the people around us. We could use our buildings to show we care about the needs of those in our neighbourhood, in physical as well as spiritual ways. There are unwed mothers, unemployed people and many others who need our help. Let us open our hearts to the people in the community around us so that they may say, ?These people just don?t park their cars there on Sunday and then drive away. They care for us in the neighbourhood, not only when special meetings come or there is a special drive for Sunday School, but they are there to meet our needs!?
The New Testament church, then, must be a light in the world, at a local level. We need a new vision and a new mission. The Holy Spirit must warm our hearts.
4:6; Hebrews 12:1-3.