Why I Did Not Go To
The Mission Field
The Word of God enabled me to
see that I am already there!
by James Cox
The following testimony is taken from a personal letter written to a young man and his wife who were considering a departure from this country to "go" to the "mission field" on the basis of Christ's commission to his disciples in Matt. 28:18-20
THIS TESTIMONY begins with my contact with some Christians in Fort Worth, Tex., who are "separate from all man-made religion according to God's command in II Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1. It was in the latter part of the summer of 1950 that I met these Christians. I had already finished four years of college training as a Baptist minister and had also completed my first year at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. I had also worked off an additional 6 hours (a full summer semester) in the first of that summer. At that time I was pastoring a full time Baptist Church at Guthrie, Tex., driving out there every Friday or Saturday from the seminary to stay over the weekend; and, I had been preaching as an ordained Baptist minister for 3 1/2 years. In addition to my preaching, on weekends I was spending time regularly at the "skid row" missions in downtown Fort Worth and using whatever other opportunities I had to witness for my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The night that I heard brother Maurice Johnson speak on the subject of the one true church"... "which is Christ's body" (Eph. 1:22-23) my wife and I had just returned to Fort Worth from a two week "Vacation Bible School" with my "pastorate' in Guthrie. We had arrived at 3:00 A.M. that Monday morning and after getting a few hours sleep we took up the task of getting our affairs arranged in preparation for the corning fall semester at the seminary. At 5:15 that afternoon I had my radio tuned to a news broadcast when I heard Maurice Johnson and Bob Thompson for the first time in my life. The program lasted for 15 minutes. At the end of it, tired as I was, I knew I had to hear them again at the meeting they announced on Jennings Ave. for that night. When I returned home at 11:30 P.M., I knew I had heard some things from the Word of God for which God would hold me accountable, though I can honestly say, that I am not conscious of ever having heard any Bible teaching, prior to that time, about the church which has Christ as its head!! Briefly, here are some of the things that were called to my attention:
1. Christ is building a church. Matthew 16:18.
2. All saved people are added to this church when they are saved. Acts 2:47.
3. The membership of the church is determined by the Lord himself; therefore, there are no hypocrites in it. Acts 2:47, I Corinthians 12:18.
4. The church is entered by a spiritual baptism, not by water baptism. I Cor. 12:13.
5. Members of this church are commanded to "do ALL", both in word and deed in the name of the Lord Jesus. Col. 3:17.6.All man-made churches, with man-determined memberships, are un-authorized additions to God's program with his people today; they yoke believers and unbelievers together in violation of Christ's command in II Cor. 6:1418 and also divide saved people for whom Christ prayed in John 17:20-23 "that they might all be one."
7. Christ is the sufficient and available "head" of this church and all who are saved can do everything that God wants them to do without the "help" of man-made creeds or churches. Ephesians 1:22-23, Philippians 4:13, II Tim. 3:16-17.
The things that I heard that summer night in the open air began to solve many problems of Bible doctrine that I had faced as a young Baptist preacher. Though I never doubted, to that time, that I was doing the right thing as to my membership in the Baptist Church, I did see in by far the majority of Baptists an almost complete oblivion to the import of salvation in Christ. Hypocrisy was the order, not the exception. It seemed that every effort that I made to reach out in a more definite way at the "church field" met
with frustration, except for what I could do on my own, and the help of just a few sincere folk, witnessing and visiting. On that Monday night in the summer of 1950, I saw for the first time that I had been expecting to see a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. And not only that, I had been feverishly "cultivating and fertilizing and pruning" in an effort to make that bad tree bear good fruit. (See Matt. 12:33). Of course, I did not see this clearly at the first, but on that night the rays of light from GOD's TRUTH had begun to dispel the doubts and misgivings for me.
I studied with Brother Johnson, Bob Thompson and others for the next five or six weeks and in the meantime enrolled for my second full year in the seminary. I found that I could not fight the truths that I heard on the subject of the church and separation unto Christ ... but, sad to say, I found that I could count the cost. A part of the cost I counted was the fact that nearly all the Christian friends that I had were Baptists. All of my college and seminary training had been Baptist training. The relatives of both my wife and myself were nearly all Baptists. Two or three times I decided to come out of the Baptist Church and just let the Lord take care of, the results. Each time, the Devil helped me to reconsider and finally inspired me to determine to "stay in (contrary to God's clear command to "come out" II Cor. 6:14-18) and clean up the Baptist sect. My wife and I "prayed” about this. We were sure we were right. After all, we did not yet see the things that these "separated Christians" were teaching on some other Bible subjects . . . We, of course, were n6t aware of the spiritual fact that when Christians determine to go their own way God may allow them to do so as he did the children of Israel in Psalm 106:15.
My final decision on this came rather suddenly. Bob Thompson and I went over to see a couple of my fellow Baptist preachers, one of whom had already finished the seminary and had come to Fort Worth while making final preparations to go to Italy as a missionary under the sponsorship of the "Italian Gospel Association" with headquarters in Chicago. These two men agreed to the truths that Bob Thompson gave concerning God's program for today but they did not believe that it would ‘'work". Neither did I, but I did not let Bob Thompson know of my doubts.
The next day I got with Frank Bounds (one of the men referred to above) and we were discussing his plans concerning the "mission field" in Italy. Frank asked me if I had ever considered going out as a "foreign missionary." I had been "prepared" for that question.Here is how it happened — Two or three weeks before Frank Bounds came to Fort Worth (bound for Italy), the seminary held, its regular "mission day program for the fall semester. Among the men that were on the program for that day was Harry Swinzburg, Southern Baptist missionary in charge, at that time, of their work in Columbia, South America. When Harry Swinzburg got up to speak he leaned over the pulpit and very quietly said "Everywhere I go people call on me to get up and give my testimony as to how God called me to go to the mission field. Sometime, I would like to sit down in the audience and listen to every Christian in the audience tell me how the Lord has called them to 'stay home' away from the mission field. My Bible tells me that the command is "GO YE" and a man does not need a special call to obey that command ... he needs a special call to stay home! I was thunderstruck!!! I had never heard that before! BUT SINCE I DID NOT KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT MISSIONS I HAD TO ADMIT THE CONSISTENCY, AT LEAST, OF WHAT HE SAID. The command was "GO YE". I volunteered that day and signed a card to the effect that I was ready to obey. .. I wasn't even particular as to where I would "go". All I knew was that I wanted to . . .'"obey the lord" . . . (while I still hadn't obeyed His command to "come out” from that unequal Baptist yoke). As I look back on this now, I can more surely and certainly appreciate the cruel, blinding power of our common enemy and adversary, Satan, the "god" of this world. (II Cor. 4:4).
Three days after this talk that I had with Frank Bounds we went to my "church" in Guthrie and I announced my plans to "just trust the Lord" to provide the way for me to go to Italy with Frank. I just knew He would do this because He had commanded me to "go" . . . (I still wouldn't "come out"). Frank and I went from there to Three Hills, Canada, where the "Prairie Bible Institute" is located. We wanted to study their school program and Bible teaching methods with the intention of duplicating their on the "mission field". What a time we had on that trip!!! We witnessed to everyone we met... picked up hitch-hikers and told them about Christ . . . left tracts in restaurants, tourist courts, filling stations, etc. Everybody seemed interested in our mission venture! Prairie Bible Institute met us with open arms and showered their blessings on us for two weeks. One young student, at P.B.I. (a previous acquaintance of Frank Bounds) gave me a 1949 Ford automobile to be sold for the purpose of providing me with expenses to go to Italy.
From P.B.I. we drove the two cars (my own and the '49 Ford) to Helena, Montana and spent the night in the same sleeping quarters (YMCA) with the man who later bought the Ford. He had come to Helena for the purpose of buying a car!! And he was a Christian!! I got $900.00 for it.
From there we went to Chicago and were accepted by the Italian Gospel Association for placement on the "mission field" in Italy. They decided to allow us to work out our own plans about where we would go and what we would do. They would only clear us in our relationship to the governments of both the U.S. and Italy. We would be completely free! The Lord was certainly leading... only HE could perform the miracles that were happening around us!! Little did I realize at the time that these were just a different kind of "quail". (Ps. 78:25-3'2, 106: 14-15).
When we got back to Texas, my wife and I began to sell everything we had. I still did not have permanent support but I did have enough money to get over to Italy and stay awhile. I appealed to my "church" for money support with no results. Then suddenly, everything fell through. Frank Bounds decided that he was going to wait until summer of 1951 and go with a "Youth for Christ" team to Europe and he felt that I should go back to the seminary and finish my education. This, coupled with the fact that I could not get permanent support pledged to me, completely stalemated my efforts to "go" as the Lord had commanded!!! (???) I examined my heart. I prayed. I did everything but "come out"!
My wife and I moved to Guthrie and remained on the "field" there until I resigned in June of '51. Then I moved to Coleman, Texas and in a few weeks I was called to the "Harmony Baptist Church" of the Coleman County Baptist Association. The church was located about 10 miles south of the town of Coleman. I fell into this work with all my energies… organized prayer meetings, Bible study groups, visiting teams, etc. With all of my fleshly fervor, the "leanness of soul" given me by the Lord was beginning to MAKE me stop and examine where I stood. It took one full year at "Harmony" for the Lord to bring me to my knees before commands that I knew I could obey without "money support". They were II Cor. 6:14-18, Col. 3:17 and Ephesians 4:1-4.
Through all this, my wife never complained. But she knew something was wrong. When I decided in June of 1952 to leave the Baptist Church and "come out" to the Lord, she was with me in that decision. We still did not understand what we had heard from Brothers Johnson and Thompson on such subjects as baptism, the Lord's Supper, missions, etc., but we knew that God was holding us responsible for the truths we knew regarding our membership in the Baptist denomination. I did not know the address of a single "separated Christian" in Fort Worth. I wasn't certain that I could find any of them... but I was coming out to the Lord and claiming His certain promise to be "a father” unto me. (II Cor. 6:18)
Well, though it had been a full year and a half since I had seen any of them, I did get into contact with these Christians in Fort Worth and in Dallas who likewise had it in their hearts to . . . endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3). Since that time, four and a half years ago (written, 1957), I have never suffered any inadequacy except in myself, no disappointment, no defeat . . . the Lord has been to me all that he has promised!! With grieved heart I must confess that I have not always been all that I could be to Him. I DO THANK HIM FOR HIS FAITHFULNESS!!!
In October of 1954 I moved with my family to Richmond, Va. No human told me to do so. A good many of God's people have been used as "laborers together" with me in the work of the Lord here. I had no pledge of "permanent support" from man. I had no denominational machinery behind me. The Lord Jesus Christ has proven Himself absolutely sufficient. I have never, since I left the Baptist ministry, passed the collection plate or made any other kind of appeal for money for myself. God has indeed supplied “all my need" according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Since I have resigned from my position as a Baptist minister, the Lord has taught me some very helpful and clarifying things about the much, confused (in sectarianism) subject of missions. Before I give some of these things I would like to add just this word:
Frank Bounds didn't get to the "mission field" in Italy, until about a year and a half later than he planned to go… the summer of 1953... and was returned to the U.S. in 1956.
I returned the money that I received from the sale of the 1949 Ford given me by the student at P.B.I.
I still find it to be a sad fact that most sectarian Christians will zealously talk about preaching the gospel to the "heathen" while refusing to set a foot out of the door to reach a neighbor who is on the way to "everlasting destruction" in the "lake of fire". I am soberly reminded that these are the people who would have supported me had I gone to Italy as a "foreign missionary".
Now, here are some of the things that I have learned from the scriptures that have cleared the mists of sectarian confusion from the subject of missions:
A. There, is no legitimate distinction given anywhere in the scriptures between "home missions" and "foreign missions". Paul, who, is held up by sectarianism as the leading Bible example of a "foreign missionary", was a Roman citizen and we have no Bible record that he ever preached out of the territory of the Roman Empire.
B. All Christians are "ambassadors for Christ" (II Cor. 5:20) and I know of nothing the devil is using to a better advantage in blinding them to this fact than the doctrine of missions as held by sectarianism.
C. Any Christian who feels at home" in, the U.S. and "abroad" when out of the territory in which his flesh happened to be born shows that he is not walking by faith". (II Cor. 5:7) The Word of faith tells us that we are "strangers and pilgrims". (I Peter 2:11-12) Our life is hid with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)
D. The whole "foreign mission" program is based on the false assumption that GOD CANNOT REACH THE LOST FOR WHOM CHRIST HAS DIED. He really wants to save the folks behind the iron and bamboo curtains but cannot because the Baptists, Methodists, etc., cannot get missionaries in there . . . think of that!!! "Is He the God of the U.S.A. only?" (Rom. 3:29) What is God going to do about the millions that died before the modern "mission" program began, only a few decades ago??? What about the millions that died before the commission of Matt. 28:19-20 was given?? Ah, it has ever been true that the eyes of the Lord "…run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." (II Chron. 16:9) That is the reason that He arranged the meetings recorded in Acts 8:26-31, Acts 10:1-33, 16:2531.
E. The same disciples who were told to "go" were also told to "tarry" until they received the Holy Spirit to guide them in the fulfillment of both the commission and other commands of the Lord. The Spirit did not "open" the door to the Gentiles until Acts 10, and in Acts 15 we find that the apostles who received the commission of Matt. 28:19 are still in Jerusalem. We don't find any of them "organizing' mission programs. We do find a good many of the Christians being faithful to their heavenly calling as ambassadors for Christ and for this reason someone had already gotten to Rome with the gospel long before Paul ever did. He wrote to the "church" at Rome some years before he could get there himself. (See Rom. 1:13) The Spirit forbade Paul to "preach the word in Asia" . . . Acts 16:6. Why? Because Christ is the head of the church and He knows what His plans are for people that we know nothing about. (John 1:9) Later, in Acts 19, we do find that all that were in Asia, heard the Word while Paul disputed "in the school of one Tyrannus” at Ephesus.
F. FIND IN THE EPISTLES OF PAUL ANY COMMAND, ANYWHERE, indicating that he believed that all Christians were to "go" away from the obligations and opportunities in such wicked cities as Athens, Corinth and Ephesus to preach to the "heathen".
G. No single person can, (even with radio, television and jet planes) go into all the world and preach the gospel to "every creature". (Mark 16:15) But the lack of these things through the centuries (together with printing presses, ocean going vessels, etc.) has not, frustrated the program of Christ in reaching hungry hearts. (Matt. 5:6) "All power is (really) given unto… " HIM!!! (Mt. 28:18)
H. Whatever Christ wants Christians to do in reaching others with the truth of the gospel CAN BE DONE WITHOUT VIOLATING ANY BIBLE TRUTH … Think of the awful fact that all denominations claim to be zealous to obey the command of Christ in Matt. 28:19 while completely ignoring THE PRAYER OF CHRIST that all Christians be ONE, THAT THE WORLD MIGHT KNOW the truth about Him. John 17:21. If God wants me to go to Italy, or any place outside the continental limits of the U.S. He will enable me to do so and will make it plain to me that He wills for me to do this. AND I WILL NOT HAVE TO DISOBEY ANY BIBLE COMMAND!!!
A missionary-ambassador of Jesus Christ,
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