Rev. Donald MacLean, Glasgow
THE Committee of the Mbuma-Zending asked me to attend their annual Mission Day, on 30th April, and to give a short address. They also kindly asked my wife to accompany me.
The meeting was held in a large hall (usually used as a fruit market), in the town of Geldermalsen, about 45 minutes by car from Dordrecht, where we stayed with a young couple who belong to the Old Reformed Congregations one of the Churches which support our Foreign Mission.
We were met at Amsterdam Airport by Mr. van Vliet, the Secretary of the Mbuma-Zending, and his wife. We both felt very much at home in the company of the friends of our Foreign Mission.
Over 5,000 people gathered for the meeting, which was opened by Ds de Jong, the Chairman of the Mbuma-Zending. In his introduction he mentioned that this was the 12th time I had attended such a meeting. I was then asked to give my address, which was translated into Dutch by Mr van Vliet, as I spoke.
The address was as follows:
I AM very pleased to be with you once more on this Mission Day, and I wish to thank your Mission Committee for their kind invitation to my wife and myself.
When Paul called the elders of Ephesus, to say farewell to them, he exhorted them to “take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock”, and “to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). From these words we see that there were those in Ephesus who were called a flock, and this flock is the Church of God. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God declares, “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 34:31). These men belonged to God as His creatures He is their Creator. But as men, they are sheep who have gone astray from God, they have turned every one to his own way of sin and rebellion against God. As a result, they have fallen into the hands of Divine justice, which requires that the soul that sins must die. They could not deliver themselves from the sentence of death passed upon them, on account of their sins, by any attempt of their own to please God.
But God has revealed in His word, that from among the lost sheep of the children of men there are those who are His in another sense. They are His because He loved them with an everlasting and sovereign love. In His love to them He set up from eternity a Shepherd, who would deliver them out of the hands of Divine justice, and bring them to the fold of everlasting glory. This person is revealed to be His beloved Son, the second person of the adorable Trinity. There was but one way, however, in which the flock could be delivered from the hands of Divine justice, and that was by the shedding of blood, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
To be the Shepherd of the sheep, the eternal Son of God became the Son of man, through taking into union with His Divine person a holy, sinless humanity, conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin. He thus stands forth in all His grace, beauty and love, when He declares, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). This He did in His death on the cross of Calvary, when He bore the sins of the sheep in His own body on that tree. It was there that the Father gave the command to the sword of Divine justice, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7). So the Shepherd’s blood was shed for the remission of the sins of the flock, and God’s love was revealed. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Divine justice was now satisfied in the death of the Shepherd, and He who so willingly and lovingly died, rose again from the dead by the power of an endless life, and is now exalted at the right hand of His Father, in His glorified humanity. The sheep had been given to Him as the gift of the Father: “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me” (John 17:6). By the shedding of His blood they now become His by purchase.
In the case of each of the sheep of Christ, they come, in this world, to hear His voice. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28). They hear His voice in the word of God, applied to their souls by the Holy Ghost. It was in this way that the sheep in Thessalonica heard His voice. “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). By the power of the Holy Spirit convincing them of their sins in the light of the word of God, they discover that they are lost sheep, unable to deliver themselves from their sins, or from the claims of the law and justice of God. The Holy Spirit, through the same word, enlightens their minds in the knowledge of the good Shepherd. They come to believe that His blood can cleanse them from all sin. They hear the voice of the good Shepherd calling them to come to Him, that they may be saved.
They feel sweetly drawn to embrace, by faith, the good Shepherd as all their salvation and all their desire, and so come to enjoy the peace that flows from the Shepherd whose blood was shed. They can now say, “His mouth is most sweet: yea He is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16). They are given grace to follow Him in this world, and rejoice in the hope of eternal life. Their language in following Him is, “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: thou has holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:23-24).
When, therefore, we send the gospel to Africa, it is in the hope, and with the prayer, that many souls in that land may hear the voice of the good Shepherd, and be brought to follow Him in this dark and evil day. It is also our desire that the flock may be fed and nourished, with the spiritual food of the word of God, and so grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The schools, clinics and hospitals, though very valuable in themselves, are but helps. The main concern is the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the Sacraments.
Although we live in a day of great spiritual darkness, and consequently a day of small things spiritually, yet we are warned not to despise the day of small things. “For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). We are to remember the exhortation to the flock of Christ not to depend on the might or power of man: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Since the Holy Spirit has been so sadly grieved away at the present time, our earnest cry and prayer should be, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old” (Isaiah 51:9).
On behalf of the Committee and people in Scotland, as well as the staff in Zimbabwe and Kenya, I wish to thank you all most warmly for your practical, financial aid, and especially for your prayerful support for the Lord’s work in these lands. “When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:16-18).
After a break for lunch, sermons were delivered by three ministers who are members of the Committee. An address was also given by a headmaster of a school in Staphorst. During the meeting two collections were taken, in aid of our Mission activities in Africa, the total of which amounted to a very generous £35,000.
The atmosphere of the meeting I felt to be very warm, and the attachment of our Dutch friends to our Mission undiminished. The singing of the psalms was particularly impressive.
The meeting was opened at 10.30 am and closed at 4.30 pm.
I was reminded of the passing of the years, by the fact that none of the members of the Committee at their first meeting in 1964 were now alive. It is a sign of the Lord’s kindness that others have been raised up to take their place, having the same desire for the spiritual prosperity of our Mission in Africa.
My wife and I arrived home safely in the kind providence of the Lord.