It was 1933. The merciless choking grip of a worldwide depression had barely begun to relax. The dark clouds of a coming worldwide conflict loomed on the horizon. It was hardly a time to break up new ground and forge forward with the gospel. With the need so great and the days so dark, what could one man do? Yet a lone evangelist with a vision and a burden made his way to a small island to preach the gospel in a rented schoolhouse through that cold winter. Little did he realize that he would be used by God to reach a 21-year-old young man, who in turn would reach so many in North America. He simply did what he could.
What could a 17-year-old immigrant girl do in one of Americas largest cities? How could she advance the gospel? She could write a letter inviting evangelists to come and preach and she could pray. The results of her having “done what she could” are still visible for all to see. Her story is related in the article recounting the history of the Philadelphia area assemblies.
An article by our esteemed brother Ronnie Watterson, of Brazil reminds us that the furtherance of the gospel is not attended by all the outward signs of bigness and prosperity. Human measures of success cannot be used to assess spiritual activity. Souls are saved one by one. They are frequently reached after much labor has been expended, prayer has been uttered, and time has elapsed. The immensity of the need, the sheep without a shepherd, the greatness of the harvest, and the fewness of thelaborers, all could conspire to overwhelm the sensitive worker. “What is my effort in light of the greatness of the need?”
The common denominator for all that is wrought for God in this scene is aptly crystallized by the pen of our brother Smith in his brief yet pointed article. It is commitment. To many, this is an overused and hackneyed word. Yet to the work of God, it is an eternal abiding principle. It is demanded of all who serve the Lord: laborers in foreign lands, humble servants in their own sphere of responsibility and burden, 17-year-old girls in strange surroundings, believers everywhere. Without it, we are playing at Christianity, armchair theologians, content to serve as consultants to God and advisors to His servants, but reluctant to bear the burden ourselves.
Commitment is just as necessary in the more “common” roles God has privileged us to have. Albert Hulls article on spouses and their responsibilities reminds us that we have an opportunity to express that commitment to the Lord in our everyday family life.
On the shores of eternity, at the final assessment of all things, it will be seen that the Kingdom of God did not suffer from our inability to do what we could not do, but from our failure in not doing what we could have done.
The great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, requested that the only inscription upon her cemetery marker be, “She hath done what she could.”