Jack Carroll - Milltown, Washington Convention - 1929

It was my privilege last year to visit my brethren in a great many different fields, and it was a great joy to have my conviction deepened and my spirit refreshed by what I saw of the grace of God in our brethren in many lands.  It would have been a very real disappointment to me if our brethren in those different countries were different in their spirit, manner of life, service, and worship from what we are in this country. Even though I sometimes did not understand what was being said in meetings, I felt in my spirit that the same oneness and fellowship, in spite of being unable to understand what was being said, was the same.  I felt that we were indeed brethren and that the work of God in every land is exactly the same, with the same marks.  There may be a difference with regard to the difficulties the workers have to face in those countries, but the message of Christ produces exactly the same results in every land.  It is possible for every one of us who have been born into God’s family, to visit our brethren in other countries and feel at home and enjoy as sweet a fellowship as we enjoy here.

It was my privilege last year to attend all four conventions in Germany, the last of which was in Berlin, and while I was there, I was impressed with two things.  I was of course, brought into very close touch and fellowship with the workers especially, and as I looked into their faces each day at the meetings and enjoyed their fellowship between the meetings, I was impressed that firstly, the workers at that last convention in Germany in August of last year, had come from quite a few different countries surrounding Germany.  There were some from Holland, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, and France, and then I thought of the different fellow servants coming from adjoining countries to Germany and my heart was filled with gladness, because the same wonderful gospel message which means so much to us was being lived and preached in those countries too.

Secondly, I thought as I looked at them, that there were only a few who had been born and brought up in Germany and those other countries.  Most of them had come from other lands — some from Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, United States, and Canada.  I thought then especially what it means for those workers who had left their own land and later moved them to lift up their eyes to behold the fields white unto harvest. Now they have been willing to go to those European countries to face difficulties that we know very little about. I must say I was tremendously impressed with the cost and the sacrifice, and what it means to our brothers who are laboring in the regions beyond.

One verse in I Corinthians 9 came to my mind especially, when Paul is giving his personal testimony.  He left us with this expression, “And this I do for the gospel’s sake.”

As I looked into the faces of my fellow servants in those meetings, I believe I was more impressed by these words than ever before, and I felt like saying in my heart more than once, “This they have done for the Gospel’s sake.”  Sometimes I feel that many of God’s saints do not value, or appreciate all that it really means and all it has really cost the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord to be in the ministry and have a part in this great harvest field in their homeland and in the regions beyond.  We get so accustomed to seeing the workers, talking with them, having them minister to us and visit in our homes, that we forget that it never gets easier.  It never becomes what we might call natural to live our lives in this world as God’s servants, and that every day of a worker’s life means going against his own nature.  Whether it is when we are out in some lonely hut batching and seeking to preach the gospel night after night, or enjoying the comforts of a saint’s home, the servants of God, both bondservants and handmaidens, are continually reminded by their very circumstances that they are different from other men and women, and are living their lives differently from other men and women, but this they do for the Gospel’s sake.  Just once a year the saints of God in the United States and Canada get a little insight into what it means to live as a worker. 

Four days, once a year, they are invited to come to convention.  They are invited to leave their own homes, their own beds, and their own table and leave that nice, comfortable stove and fireplace, and spend four days away from it all, and listen to, and have fellowship with, the servants of God in their homelessness. It goes hard with some.  Those straw feathers have not been very comfortable.  It has not been nice to sleep in a crowded room, nor has it been very nice or pleasant to sit at a table with that clatter of dishes and plates. Some of you are very homesick, if you would tell us all that is in your heart.  You wish for the last meeting, wish for Monday so you can go back to your nice comfortable home with its nice room and bed, and nicely spread table and enjoy it all again.  We don’t envy you that.  It is right; it is legitimate and quite honorable, but it would not hurt some of you to think a little oftener and show a little more sympathy, or manifest a truer appreciation for all that has come into your life by the Gospel, through the ministry of men and women, who for your sakes have forsaken home and made themselves homeless. They have taken steps which blighted and blasted all their projects in this life in order that they might be mouth pieces of God to men and women dead in trespasses and sins.  It never gets easier.  We never get used to the homelessness of a worker’s life, and if this is true in this land where we share so often in the comforts and hospitality of the saints of God, what must it be like in those other lands where there are fewer saints, less hospitality, and where the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord know more of what it really means to have fellowship with God’s Christ in His loneliness and homelessness for the Gospel’s sake.  Are the saints of God in this meeting, in this convention today, rooted and grounded in the Truth?  How many are there in this meeting this afternoon who are clear in their minds and understand from the Scriptures the conditions that every man and woman must face in order to have a part in this Ministry.

We had with us on Thursday in this meeting two friends, one of them from Japan and another from the Eastern States, and a little interest had been awakened in their minds and hearts in the testimony of some of God’s children.  We had quite an interesting conversation with them.  They wanted to know the difference between us and other people, the difference between the Ministry in God’s way and the ministry that they were associated with and had been encouraged to believe in.  It was a very real joy to put before them the conditions of every man and woman who desires to have a place in this Ministry must fulfill.  They were staggered and could hardly take it in.  They found it difficult to believe that men and women could be found in this day, that would face up to the sayings of Jesus and fulfill literally in their lives the conditions He laid down, and then go forth in His name and Way to proclaim the glorious Gospel of God.  I told them there were twenty or thirty workers on these grounds, both men and women, who had faced these conditions in their lives and Ministry, and bore the same marks as those in the New Testament days for perishing men. 

I told them that the first condition men and women have to fulfill is to be willing to have fellowship with Jesus in His poverty.  In this matter of going forth to preach the Gospel, there is an equality of sacrifice.  No man or woman sacrifices more than another because every man or woman who is accepted and has a part in this Ministry, sacrifices all.  We must sell all that we have, whether it is little or much is of little matter to God or His servants — these conditions must be faced by every man and woman who wants to have a part in ministering the Gospel in God’s appointed Way.  So, willingness to have fellowship with Jesus in His poverty as God’s anointed servants is the very first condition every man and woman must fulfill before they can be recognized as one with us in this Ministry. 

The second condition is that every man and woman must be willing to have fellowship with Jesus in His homelessness. Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath no where to lay His head.”  Jesus said that to a scribe, a man who held office in the Jewish church and had been stirred by what he had seen and heard in the life and ministry of Jesus, and who desired to have a share in it.  Jesus saw what was in his heart and said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests.”  No man or woman can have a part in this Ministry unless they are as willing as Jesus to be strangers and homeless.  I have been preaching this Gospel for a good many years and I have been a welcomed and honored guest in the homes of many of God’s people, but I have never yet gotten used to being a stranger and homeless for Jesus’ sake. This fellowship with Jesus in His homelessness is one of the conditions that He Himself insisted upon had to be faced and fulfilled if men were to have a part with Him in His Ministry.   

I told these visiting friends of the third condition, and that is, the Lord’s servants must be willing to go forth into the world in His name and preach the Gospel without any guaranteed support.  This last condition staggered them, especially when I told them that, if we knew of any man or woman claiming to be one of us in this Ministry who lifted collections or begged for money, we would immediately refuse to have fellowship with them.  I wonder if any of you saints ever pictured yourselves as a Worker.  I don’t know if you have ever dreamed any.  I had a dream one night and pictured myself as a saint and I nearly died!  Did you ever picture yourself as a Worker?  Did you ever picture yourself four thousand miles from home in a strange country, without any income or guaranteed support, without any friends, and with very little in your pocket, perhaps nothing at all, and even hungry, and not know where to sleep?  There are Workers in this meeting this afternoon who have had some of these experiences, and it wouldn’t hurt some of God’s saints if they would try to picture themselves in such a position.  They would understand a little better when sitting in their nicely upholstered chairs, lounges, and rocking chairs, with their feet by the fire what it means to be one of His servants.  It would move them perhaps, to be a little less critical and more sympathetic and have a deeper desire to contribute to that encouragement and refreshment that God expects His saints to minister to those who have forsaken all for the Gospel’s sake.  Sometimes perhaps the question arises in the minds of a few of God’s children — “Do the Workers in these foreign countries go forth exactly on the same terms as the Workers in this country, or is there any difference?”  There could be no difference and we would like you to banish from your mind, once and forever, any thought that the work of God is carried on differently in foreign lands than the way it is carried on in the homeland, or that the workers in foreign countries are supported in a different way than the workers in the main land, because it is not so. 

I told these men the other day that we had no secretary and no treasurer, we had no headquarters and no central fund for anyone to draw upon, and every worker in all these different lands claim the promises of Jesus given in the 12th chapter of Luke, that those who seek first His Kingdom, and keep His interests first at all times and under all circumstances, would have their needs supplied.  He Himself was ministered to by the Fellowship and self-denial and sacrifice of those who claim to be one with Him, living for the furtherance of the Gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom. One of the things that cause so much spiritual poverty in our midst is because there is so little real self-denial and true sacrifice for the Gospel’s sake.  When I think of the testimony of God’s servants being, “This I do for the Gospel’s sake,” I look into my own heart and ask myself, “What have you done for the Gospel’s sake?  Where have I been willing to deny myself or willing to sacrifice for the Gospel’s sake?”  And I feel like turning to others and pressing the question, “What have you done; what have you sacrificed; what have you denied yourself for the Gospel’s sake during the last year?”

I love to think of some of the saints we read about in the New Testament who had a deep, true, self-denying, and self-sacrificing interest in the Gospel.  I love to think of those young converts in Thessalonica from whom sounded out the Word of the Lord, who by their testimonies and lives gave evidence that the Gospel had gripped their hearts, and they had turned from idols to serve the living and true God and wait for His Son from Heaven.  They were just young converts, anxious and desiring that their lives and testimonies might commend the Gospel to those who were dead in trespasses and sins.  Then I love to think of the saints at Philippi who, after ten years, Paul wrote to saying, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now.”  This letter to the Philippians was a great help to me as a young convert.  It was a great help to me as a young worker and it is now a great help to me as an older worker, because the spirit and purpose of the man who wrote this letter is a great inspiration and help to all of us who have spent years in God’s service.  Here he is writing to men who knew the pinch of poverty. One of the poorest places we read of in the New Testament was here, yet he wrote that way from a prison in Rome. He begins by saying, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…”  The 2nd chapter speaks of Epaphroditus.  He was one of those Philippians saints who undertook what was then that long and dangerous journey from Philippi to Rome in order to have fellowship with God’s servant in the furtherance of the Gospel.  He was sick and nigh unto death as a result and furnishes an example of one of God’s saints who was willing to risk health and life, in order that he might play some little part in the furtherance of the Gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom.  I am glad I can speak freely to you about this because up to the time when I went forth to preach the Gospel, I do not remember a day or an hour when I wasn’t willing for everything I possessed to be placed upon God’s altar for the furtherance of the Gospel and the extension of the Kingdom. I feel glad that God put on record what gives us a little look at the life and ministry of this one child of God who, in order that he might do a little for the Gospel, was prepared to risk his health and life. 

Over in the last letter that John wrote, we read of another man.  He was in poor circumstances and not in very good health physically, but his soul was prospering.  He had a home, and probably not much more than a home, but it was a worthy home when other homes were unworthy and when others were disloyal in their spirit and in their words and actions to the servants of God. This man Gaius stands out as a true, noble, loyal fellow helper in the bonds of the Gospel.  There is another man mentioned in this letter called Diotrephes.  He was an elder of a church and as an elder, he was guilty of the worst sin any elder can commit in his relationship with God’s servants and saints.  He was disloyal to the servants of Christ and loved pre-eminence — he wanted to be the whole thing in the church, to run things according to his own ideas, and he would not give place to the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord when they came around that way.  John said, “I will remember him; I will deal with him.”  But he said to Gaius, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” — verses 4-8.  The men and women we value in the way of God, both as saints and those who have a little responsibility in the church, are the men and women who have the marks of Gaius, and who are under all circumstances seeking to truly be fellow helpers and would rather die than be disloyal in thought, spirit, word, or action to the men and women who have forsaken all for Christ’s sake.  They are giving their lives, however imperfect, in service to God and man.  I would encourage you to lift up your eyes to behold the fields white unto harvest, and let the work that is near and dear to the heart of God be near to your own heart, so you may have a little place in the greatest work of spreading the glorious Gospel of God’s grace. May you confirm the testimony of those who are giving their lives for Jesus’ sake by helping those who are scattered over the globe and willing to lay down their lives for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s.  Oh, for loyal Saints!  Oh, for men and women who will have a deep, true love — who are hearty and sympathetic to the Fellowship with the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord and who will honestly, by their prayers and fellowship, do what they can to confirm their testimony by strengthening their hands and refreshing their spirits.  In visiting our brethren in those different countries, I am very glad that in some places at least, I had fellowship with them when not at convention, because the spirit and fellowship at a convention and the regularity of everything there is not the normal experience of God’s bondservants and handmaidens during the year.  Over in India especially, we had very close fellowship with our brothers and sisters as they were working in missions, seeking to reach those on the outside, and I got a better insight into their trials and their reproach that they bear for Jesus’ sake.  I believe it softened and enlarged my heart so that there does not come a single day but what I think of and remember, sometimes every hour of the day, our brothers and sisters in those far-off, lonely, isolated parts of the earth, who are seeking to make known the way of Jesus to the sons and daughters of men. 

I suppose some of you noticed that John has a map hung on an old post in the yard.  I hope you haven’t passed it by unheedingly but have looked at it and been reminded of those who are gone.  I hope you are reminded of some who by their tears, brought you into the way of God and His family, and that you are stirred in your hearts and vow that in the coming year you will think more often and kindly of those who meant much to you in former days.  Perhaps you will spend a little time writing words of comfort and encouragement to them so they will be saved from that awful feeling that sometimes steals into the hearts of brothers and sisters in these countries that, “We are forgotten.”  I have great sympathy for the young workers who suffer in this way because I used to suffer in the same way in my younger days, but as one gets older, one gets used to being forgotten in a measure at least, but over in those different countries, some of our younger brothers and sisters who are neglected and seemingly forgotten, have our sympathy for we know a little how they feel when they go to that secret place and pour out their hearts before God and seek His grace that enables them to continue — even though seemingly forgotten by their brethren.  That map costs thirty-five cents. We are not selling them but you can get one at a drugstore and if not there, you can write to Rand, McNally, and Co. in Chicago and send forty cents.  Put it up in your home where you can see it every day and be moved perhaps by the Christ who came to save you, and pray that God would send forth more laborers into His harvest field.  I believe there are many of God’s saints who are suffering from spiritual poverty because of their lack of interest in the work of God and the extension of His Kingdom.  They know nothing whatever of what it means to inconvenience themselves, to deny themselves, to sacrifice anything for the work of God and the furtherance of the Gospel.  I believe with all my heart this afternoon that our sweetest memories on the other side will be the memories of the things that we sacrifice, the inconveniences for the sake of others and the self-denial we are willing for in Christ and for His sake and the Gospel’s. May God grant that we know more of this and that His Kingdom through us and by us may be extended, and our manner of life through all circumstances may be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ.  We are glad to say there are some who almost go beyond, some we must put the brake on to keep from doing too much like Mary, Philemon, and Gaius.  I thank God for such, but there are some, and there may only be a few perhaps that know nothing yet of that self-denial and sacrifice for others that enriches lives and bring blessing to others today who are without God.  May God grant that we know more of this for His Name’s sake.