Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 75, 1896

Remarks Concerning Foreign Mission Work

NP

November 12, [1896?]

Previously unpublished.

There seem to be so many fields right around here that ought to be worked that are not worked, that I do not know about stretching out so far just yet. In the persecution that arose [in apostolic times], the saints, the believers, were scattered around through different places, and they preached the gospel. Well, now, they were not ministers. We have got to begin to handle, as we have not yet done, those who are not ministers, not waiting until they are ordained, but take men that we know fear God and make them feel that it is possible for them to go and take hold of the work in these countries. Many of them could do just as much and just as well as ministers. Whereas the large cities in these countries ought to have more experienced laborers to take hold of the work, [lay workers should] go and labor as laborers (the ministers have got to fill these different places) and use their experience as best they can, and do the best they can. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 1

But from the light that I have had there has not been all that training of men for workers, and bringing them right up close in connection with ministerial labor, and appreciating their talents, and teaching them how to use them so they could go out and go right in to such places as these and work, all over, all around, and let the light shine, as should have been. God does not rest His work on a few ministers. He does not do it. We have let the matter settle in our minds altogether too strongly and too firmly that it is a full-fledged minister that must be prepared to take hold of the work. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 2

Those in the churches should feel the burden of labor and the work, and ministers should encourage those that feel any burden in that direction unless there is something positive in their life and in their character that makes it very objectionable. As soon as they begin to experience a desire to work, our finite minds must not pronounce upon it, and think that they must go through the minister’s ordeal, all the way through, before they can be accepted as laborers. Let them go out. Let them test their power, their ability, and see what they will do, and not go to them and say, “You aren’t a minister.” 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 3

Another thing I want to tell you that I know from the light as given me: it has been a great mistake that men go out, knowing they are children of God, like Brother Tay, [who] went to Pitcairn as a missionary to do work, [but] that man did not feel at liberty to baptize because he had not been ordained. That is not any of God’s arrangements; it is man’s fixing. When men go out with the burden of the work and to bring souls into the truth, those men are ordained of God, [even] if [they] never have a touch of ceremony of ordination. To say [they] shall not baptize when there is nobody else, [is wrong]. If there is a minister in reach, all right, then they should seek for the ordained minister to do the baptizing, but when the Lord works with a man to bring out a soul here and there, and they know not when the opportunity will come that these precious souls can be baptized, why he should not question about the matter, he should baptize these souls. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 4

This is the very work [described in the Scriptures], as I have been writing on the life of Christ in regard to these [believers] being scattered, how because of the persecution they went everywhere preaching the Word of God; they were preaching the gospel everywhere, and as souls were raised up they were baptized. Philip was not an ordained minister, but when the eunuch began to inquire about this matter, Philip opened to him the Word, and then what? He says, “What doth hinder my being baptized?” [Acts 8:36.] Sure enough, what did hinder? It was not considered that anything hindered, and Philip went down and baptized him. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 5

Well, there are these things that need to be considered before men shall ever go into these countries, and if you are going to have the ordained ministers from what we have now, the ordained ministers will be few and far between. There must be men that shall be commissioned or encouraged by our brethren to go out, and if they feel that it is best to have these men ordained—some of them—why, ordain them; but if not, let them go out and let them do to the very best of their ability. They are conscientious men and are accountable to God. We must not put men into straight jackets that are going out to proclaim the gospel of peace among those that are in midnight darkness and idolatry and all these things. And we must lead these men with our prayers, earnest prayers, and our hearts to go with them, and bid them Godspeed, and for the Lord to prosper them. That is what we must do. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 6

And then the work you see here. Are these men being educated all the time? You must sit and call on the church from now until the judgment and tell them that they must all be missionaries, and they must all take hold. What will you do? Make them missionaries. Who is encouraging them to be missionaries, and who is coming right by their side, and taking right hold of them, and lifting them up, and saying, Do the best you can; open the Scriptures wherever you can? Go, and thus encourage them, hold them up, and we must not in any way hinder those that love and serve God. We must not do that work, because there is a world to be warned, and when do you suppose we are going to get around to warning them? When do you think that the warning is going unless we shall stir up the people to do this work and let them go into these countries that have not been visited? 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 7

But at the present time there is more work than can possibly be done, fruit to gather, right at our own door. Here was one point given me in Switzerland where our brethren wanted to go way off to commence work in Germany when they had not worked right around in Basel and in places all around there. Well, they had written to Brother Butler, and he [had] said, Go along. Well, Brother Butler should have kept his voice to himself, because we were right on the ground where we knew all about the matter. But they could not be held; they were going to go. That night a dream came to me, and the dream was: We were berrying, and here were different companies that were to gather these berries. And right around where the wagon was stationed, the supplies were in the wagon, and those that would wander way off to get the berries got nothing, but they were very eager to be sure to get their supplies, and so they would come back to get their supplies. But close by the wagon were bushes loaded with the most beautiful berries, and they had been falling off and off. And they wandered. Why did not they come here before, why did not they come before, why did they leave these fields unworked? Why did they leave these cities unworked? It seemed to me I felt such a solemnity, such a distress, and I kept gathering the berries, and I had some to bring into the wagon, but the rest seemed to be wandering off and leaving the work right at hand. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 8

I believe we need not leave the work at hand, and yet we can encourage men and women to go into these districts. We must have more of a missionary spirit; we must be better missionaries, educated so that we shall acknowledge talent where it is. You say such a man has not had an education. So he has not. How big an education did the fishermen have? The Jews were surprised that they did not have more. They said, “These are unlearned and ignorant men.” [Acts 4:13.] So they did not consider that they had an education, and yet they preached the Word of God with power. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 9

It is not the education that is going to make men laborers. We want to get all the education that we can, but at the same time men who have no education are not to be restricted as though they were not fit to go until they had the education. If they are humble men, if they are God-fearing men, then the Lord can use them to go fishing. He will use men just as He used the fishermen, and if they have vitality and earnestness and devotion, the Lord will give them His power, His grace. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 10

He will work with every one that will work, if they are devoted to Him, and, more than that, He will be to them the greatest Educator the world ever knew. He will take those men that will commit themselves to Him, and He will educate them. He will train them. He will fit them for the work. This is what we want. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 11

We want our ministers to feel that they are under obligation to God to present individuals that shall go out and that shall work in different places to the very best of their ability. While they are under [the ministers’] watchcare, and while [the ministers] can give instruction and can fit them to go out, let them gather [themselves] right by their side, and not feel they are ignorant men. They can do more. They can do a great deal; they can open the Bible where they can, and teach the gospel. They need not stand in the desk. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 12

But here is the very thing that needs prudence and carefulness. You say it will make us a lot of trouble. So it will, because some will go before they have any particular burden, and they will want to go. But is not that the very thing we will have to bear? Certainly it is. We have kept our hands too firmly to keep people back instead of urging them forward. It is some of the urging that is needed. Whether they are learned or can give an eloquent prayer or an eloquent speech, but one thing is essential—that they should be men that love and fear God and walk in humility before Him. And this is the only way we can let our light shine to the world. 11LtMs, Ms 75, 1896, par. 13