The first Mbuma Zending Mission Day was held in 1964; so the latest meeting at Geldermalsen on 30 April 2003 was the fortieth to be held. Over these years our African mission work has been faithfully supported by our Dutch friends, and the fact that around 5000 souls were present at this most recent meeting makes it evident that the passing of the years has not led to any diminishing of their support. It rather seems to have increased. The collection this year amounted to approximately £32 000.
The day’s proceedings began at 10.30 am, when a short introductory address was given by the Chairman, Ds Tj de Jong. He referred to the fact that this was the fortieth meeting and he recalled that the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland representative at the inaugural meeting had been the Rev Donald MacLean, Glasgow. He extended a welcome to me as the representative of the Church on this present occasion. The usual pattern was followed throughout the day with addresses being given by Ds van Woorden and Ds D Monster and towards the end of the day Mr A B den Breejen addressed the children present in what we believe were very suitable terms. After Ds S de Jong had briefly spoken and prayed, the Chairman brought the proceedings to an end. In his closing remarks, he mentioned, at my request, the need of having a doctor at Mbuma Hospital now that Dr Janette Benchop had indicated that she did not wish to resume her duties there. This was done in the hope that someone suitable might be moved to offer their services to the Foreign Missions Committee.
The Psalm singing throughout the day was unaccompanied and hearing so many voices in unison lifted up in the offering of praise to the Almighty was a moving experience. Looking at the sea of faces, one could not but feel a longing to see such spectacles become common throughout the nations of the world and occasioned by an outpouring of the Spirit of God. Tribute has to be paid to Mr H van Vliet, the Secretary of the Mbuma Zending Board, upon whom the responsibility of organising this mission day has fallen for many years, and to him as well as the other members of the Board we are deeply indebted. We are grateful to Mr and Mrs Slabbekoorn for the kindness extended to us in their most hospitable home and also for the same reason to Mr and Mrs van Vliet. Among our praying friends in Holland there are many, we believe, who long, as we do, to see the coming of Christ’s kingdom on earth and we can only hope that the day will soon dawn when He who has regard to the prayer of the destitute will come, as promised, to build up Sion again.
Address: In gathering here today in such large numbers you are making known your continuing goodwill towards the African mission work of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland; your presence here bears testimony to your desire to support it. Your prayerful interest and material help, I assure you, is much appreciated, and I bring with me the greetings of the Foreign Missions Committee and, indeed, of the Church at large, because it is well known throughout our congregations that were it not for the help given by the Mbuma Zending, it would not be possible for us to continue to work in Kenya and Zimbabwe to the extent that we do. I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you all.
But when all is said and done – it is the Lord’s work. And our attitude to it is to be that commended by Himself: “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do”.
Man was created to glorify and serve his Creator. But Adam fell and, as a result, “all mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever”. It matters not then what nation we belong to, or what the colour of our skin is; having sinned in Adam and having fallen with him in his first transgression, we are – each one of us – “by nature the children of wrath even as others”. It is in that state that the gospel finds poor sinners – if it finds them at all! Multitudes are perishing in spiritual darkness, without the gospel, without Christ, “having no hope, and without God in the world”. Everywhere we look, we find the god of this world blinding the minds of perishing sinners “lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. In Africa, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is endeavouring, by Divine grace, and with your help, to bring the gospel to the ears of such as are in that condition – and there are very many of them. We continue to do so in the hope that their eyes will be opened and that they will turn “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith” in Christ.
To that work we are to apply ourselves with all the greater diligence in view of the brevity of the period of our sojourning here in time. Solomon was moved by the Holy Spirit to draw attention to our duty: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecc 9:10).
It is obvious from this portion that we are all travellers – all of us present here – travellers journeying to a certain destination: the grave! Job called it “the house appointed for all living”. Why is this? The answer is given: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Adam, the first man, arrived at this destination. He was told: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” And so it was. But the gospel tells us of “the second man, the Lord from heaven”. It is He who “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death”. In dying the accursed death of the cross, He, on behalf of a number which no man can number of our race, removed the sting from death and obtained the victory over the grave. He was the profitable Servant who finished the work that was given Him to do. We are to do our utmost to spread this abroad and draw attention to Him as “the only Redeemer of God’s elect – the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever”.
Since God has placed all gospel hearers under the obligation of making their calling and their election sure, our duty is to do what He has commanded us to do: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”.
On our way to eternity, there is no more important work we can put our hand to than that of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling – work that is to be done in the knowledge that it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure. We are to seek Him while He may be found; we are to call upon Him while He is near. The gospel is precious because therein He draws near and reveals Himself to poor, perishing sinners! “And I,” He said, “if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me”.
The gospel is the “device” which has been devised by a gracious God in order to deliver sinners from going down into the pit of hell and a lost eternity – where no “device” is available by which they can be brought up again. We are told that in eternity the saved and the lost are separated by “a great gulf, fixed”. It is a matter of urgency – of life and death. Ministers of the gospel are sent to proclaim this, and to draw the attention of all their hearers to the Divine declaration: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”. A saving knowledge of Christ – in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge – is not available beyond the grave!
We have been allotted our own particular spheres of labour. Let us therefore be up and doing; let us seek grace to follow the example of Him who said: “I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work”. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”