The words of the song were written by an American; put to a Russian tune; played by a German pianist; and sung in English by a quartet of Spaniards. This interesting episode was only one of many that touched hearts with the sense of spiritual unity at the recent North American Missions Convention held at Battle Creek, Michigan. We usually think of a missionary as one who boards a boat and sails for some mysterious, exotic region far distant from our homeland. Yet this convention proved that a unique type of missionary operates within the borders of the North American Division.
For instance, there is Elder Harold Kono, an American of Japanese descent, who has dedicated his life to working for the Japanese who live in the North American Division. On the other hand, we meet R. M. Devins and Erwin Morosoli, born in France but called to North America as missionaries among the French-speaking people of Canada.
The last day of this historic meeting was one of total dedication. Pastor Theodore Carcich, vice-president of the General Conference, led the workers in a surrenderto-Christ experience. God's Spirit was manifested in an unusual manner. Time was forgotten. For more than an hour the entire delegation stood at the altar, giving and listening to testimonies of praise and dedication. Tear-filled eyes emphasized the blessings received. No tape recording, much less a written report, could begin to convey the impact made by the living, vibrant testimonies of dedicated workers.
Wives Deserve Credit
The words of Paul commending Moses for exchanging a kingship for a slaveleader's position are a definite source of comfort to many of these men and women. Take the case of Pastor Peter Samograd, Ukrainian worker from Canada, who began his testimony by exclaiming, "I thank God for my wife!" Then he continued, "When I was facing a decision as to whether I would be a minister among the foreign-speaking people of North America, I looked the situation over. I thought, What is the point? Just a minority group, little pay. Why should I turn down an offer of a $60,000 contract for this insignificant work?" Then he said, "But I thank God today that I am standing among you. My wife repeatedly said, 'It isn't the money or position that counts but rather it is God's program.' Without her encouragement I would undoubtedly have forfeited the honor of working for a special language group in North America."
General Conference Leaders Are Human
Another voice spoke out, "I am a Japanese layman. Something urged me to attend this meeting. What I have seen and heard has given me tremendous courage. I always thought that our General Conference leaders were high above the rest of us. But here we are all standing together, humbly dedicating our lives to God. My heart is touched, and I have greater confidence in this church now than ever before."
A Picture Provokes a Testimony
On the wall behind the pulpit of the Battle Creek Tabernacle hangs a large, impressive picture of Christ and the rich young ruler. One young minister, with deep emotion exclaimed, "When I first came to this meeting the picture of Christ and the rich young ruler made a vivid impact on my soul. During these meetings I have been wondering whether I am in the same category as this young man. In fact, I have doubted my willingness to lay everything on the altar for my Lord." Then he said, "What sacrifice have I really made for Christ? We have such security in the work compared with our pioneers." As this minister climaxed his testimony he remarked, "From this moment on, I am determined by God's grace to go back to my work and place my entire life and possessions on the altar of sacrifice."
Many of these piercing testimonies revealed the struggle that takes place in the hearts of our workers who are striving to reach the millions whose mother tongue is other than English. From a human standpoint many of these men work alone. Their work is usually carried on in large metropolitan areas, which in itself is a formidable challenge. Some of them have consistently turned down calls to work for English-speaking people, which is no small temptation in a country where English eventually swallows up other languages. These facts plus others are used by Satan to tempt these brethren with thoughts that no one cares—their work is insignificant—they are not appreciated.
But this is not the case. God cares and the church cares! This meeting proves our interest. The Ministerial Association calls upon the entire ministry of North America to remember this group of unique missionaries not only in their prayers but in their actions! Visit them. Find out about this work. Be watchful for those of other tongues and turn the names and addresses over to these dedicated brethren. Where we have foreign-speaking groups in areas where there are no workers for them, make special efforts through our literature to reach these dear souls with the gospel of Christ.
Now and in the future the memory of the scenes and sounds of the North American Missions Convention will ever be a source of power to all who attended.
As we look back to that day when our Lord bade good-by to eleven humble men, we hear the immortal words that forever prove that no dedicated, consecrated minister of God is alone: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
J. R. S.